May 20, 2012

Boulder Squirrels: Friend or Foe?


Photo by Cayte Bosler

I am having a hard time deciding if Brian, the squirrel, is my friend or a nuisance, or most likely, both.

At first, I couldn’t tell him apart from the rest. He was just one of the acrobats in my front yard jump-flying from tree to tree.

Squirrels are arguably benefiting more from human settlements than any other species. A lot are fat. Though not too fat to balance on wire—a stunt that is so impressive for a human being that there is a movie—Man on Wire.

Still, fattened from dumpster cupcakes or not, what would Boulder be without the gleeful romantic scurries of squirrels chasing each other up trees; the odd squirrel brave enough to pluck a snack from your hand at the park; or the darling of our story, the squirrel I have named Brian who barks at my balcony window every morning to be let in?

The barking is an improvement. In the beginning, Brian just helped himself in when I naively left open my third story balcony door when going for errands. For weeks, I came home to opened jars and spilt nuts, picked over bread, and the occasional bitten into potato, apple, and orange.

Due to the distractible nature of squirrels, this foray meant that Brian’s feast was wide ranging and not one dish did he totally polish off.  I like to think that he anticipated me at any moment, maybe feeling guilt or at least a teensy weensy hint of instinct that it wasn’t safe for him to be in my den.

Photo by Cayte Bosler

I decided to compromise. I started to leave breakfast scraps out for him on the ledge to enjoy in the sunshine, or to share with a lady friend. The result was that he would finish and then bark for more.

He may not have manners, but I do miss him when he’s gone. Presumably, he’s on the balcony below me and on his more exciting days—out on the town bragging about the variety in his diet. I never was foolish enough to think this was an exclusive thing. A squirrel has got to eat where he’s got to eat. A simple, hard fact.

I am trying to stay present, not to think ahead too much. Where is he going? Will he get sick of piles of rice and almond butter? It’s hard to say if I’ll stay friendly with the species after Brian. I can see a good case for either side.

I mean, excuse me, there is a barking at my door.


Editor: Mel Squarey

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