By Melissa Wynn
Early in September, while visiting Don Sabin in his remote log cabin home, I was treated to a few hours of watching a pair of flying squirrels stuff their cheeks with sunflower seeds from Mr. Sabin’s bird feeder. It was just after dark and we had to take turns holding the flashlight on them to get a good look. I knew that flying squirrels were native to our area but I had never seen one in the wild before and I was instantly smitten. These speedy little seed eaters scampered down the tree trunk and then leaped and glided like tiny kites to the hanging feeder grasping the edge with all four clawed feet. Moving as if on fast forward, the first smaller squirrel used his front feet like hands to stuff the pockets of his furry brown cheeks with seeds before “flying” back to the trunk to deliver the booty to his stash spot in a hollowed out cavity up the tree. The larger of the acrobatic pair crept down the tree at a much more cautious pace giving me a chance to look right into her big enchanting eyes. Unfortunately, looking back into mine gave her a fright and she launched herself over to the next tree and zipped out of sight. It was amazing to see her spread out flat, showing the skirt of skin that attaches the front and back ankle areas, turning the fuzzy white underbelly into a parachute of sorts. They returned for seed over and over but were easily startled away. It was a fascinating experience that reminded me to take a look at my own bird feeder at night as well. I am even considering lighting it up. It was a rare joy to observe a nocturnal creature for a long period of time since so often a glimpse is soon robbed by the darkness. Thank you, Mr. Sabin, for sharing your little piece of paradise and the flying squirrels that dwell there with me.
photo courtesy of photobucket.com