Presque Isle State Park Appreciates Its Squirrels
FRIDAY, JAN. 21
When was the last time you stopped to appreciate the squirrels around you?
If you haven't had an occasion before, you have an occasion this weekend, as Squirrel Appreciation Day officially falls on Friday, Jan. 21. The holiday was conceptualized by North Carolinian wildlife rehabilitator Christy Hargrove, in an effort to give the little guys a lift when food resources are the scarcest. Sometimes affectionately referred to as "nature's gardeners," squirrels often bury nuts and seeds for later in a behavior called "caching." The locations of these stashes may slip their memory, effectively resulting in a new tree planting — a good thing for the environment (studies show that 3 out of 10 cached nuts are forgotten).
However, snow on the ground and frozen soils can pose additional impediments when snacktime arrives — the kind of hangry-ness that might drive any of us right up a tree. To lend an assist, you might hang a dried ear of corn, peanut butter-coated pine cone, or even invest in a specialized squirrel feeder — although that's no guarantee the mischievous varmints will preserve the sanctity of your designated bird feeder. In fact, if you're somewhat of a gardener yourself, you may maintain an uneasy rivalry with these so-called "nature's gardeners" as the elusive critters pillage and plunder remorselessly from your bounty.
In that case, perhaps it'd be easier to appreciate Northwest PA's four squirrel species (gray, red, fox, and Northern flying) in the wild. Presque Isle State Park will celebrate Squirrel Appreciation Day with a Friday afternoon virtual presentation preceding a Saturday morning trail walk to catch the hirsute hoarders during peak activity. Both events are free, so show up bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to learn without worrying about emptying your cache.
Waterproof boots and ski/snow pants are highly recommended for Saturday's Squirrel Appreciation Walk after the heavy accumulations that fell earlier this week — or even snowshoes. On that note, Asbury Woods will be offering snowshoe (and cross-country ski) clinics throughout the winter to enhance your appreciation of the outdoors year-round. Whereas the average gray squirrel weighs about a pound and can sprint and skim over the top of a snowdrift with ease, we humans are not so light on our feet.
But given the reasons we continue to find for festivities — even amidst scarcity — we prove again and again we are up to our hips in good ideas.
Friday 1 to 2 p.m. and Saturday 9 to 10:30 a.m. // 1 Peninsula Drive // Free // events.dcnr.pa.gov