For the past several years, we've had a couple of tiny squirrels running about the yard. I think these are part of a group I saw as infants, tiny things that were scared of their own shadows. They've grown up, though they're still quite small compared to most local squirrels.
Last winter I'd see then gathering feed beneath the bird feeder, else combing last fall's maple seeds from the frozen grass. Lately one has been visiting the back porch each evening, picking seeds out of the cracks between slabs on concrete. Usually when they see me they run.
But not last evening.
I walked into the kitchen about 8:15 pm just as the sun was setting and I heard a metronome-like chirp. I thought I was hearing a bird. So I walked to the window and scanned the nearby maple tree for whatever was making such noisy protests.
On the horizontal branch nearest the window sat one of the squirrels, directly above where we have a hummingbird feeder attached. Perhaps the bright red of the feeder attracted her attention. Perhaps she was simply in the mood to complain.
Her chirping - it was not the usual squirrel "bark" - came at about the rate of one per second, an arboreal clock with some notable precision. She seemed not to be able to help herself, as though the sound was some sort of hiccup. I stood at the window, pressed my face close to the glass, moved my arms about, and still she sat running her time piece.
I suspect she was not happy about something. Maybe she was calling to the bright hummingbird feeder, expecting it to answer or fly away? Maybe she was calling her sibling? She stared straight into my eyes as she chirped, her little lungs pulsing with air, her lips jerking.
She didn't budge, even though I gave her plenty of reason to. Eventually I left and went into the living room to watch some TV. I came back 45 minutes later and she had not moved an inch. She had, however, quit making any sound. She sat there still as a rock, staring me down. I thought she might be getting ready to make her bed there.
It's hard to say what goes on in the mind of a squirrel. At 9 pm, as I readied myself for bed, I walked to the window one last time. The sky had darkened and the tiny squirrel was gone, taking the mystery along with her.