We saw something we'd never seen before this morning - a squirrel with a largish youngster held on the scruff of its neck scampering through the foliage above us. We were on the back road in the Garden, near the nature trail through the oak-hickory forest (the Heusel Nature Trail) when we spotted her.
We had our binoculars, so had a good look as she leaped from tree to tree carrying her 'cargo.' There was lots of chattering going on nearby, perhaps fussing at the disturbance.
A web search found (LOTS of) interesting information about Eastern Gray Squirrels: mama squirrels are VERY protective of their offspring and, if feeling threatened, will move their babies to another drey. Apparently, gray squirrels have (usually) at least three dreys, and maybe a cavity or bird box, in addition.
Eastern Gray Squirrels breed twice a year, in mid-winter and in early summer. We probably saw a youngster borne in September, but one that will overwinter with Mom until spring. It takes a long time for squirrels to be weaned (10-12 weeks), and almost nine months until they're full-grown.
Of course, we just had binoculars, and no camera, this morning. But the photos of nest-building last weekend in an earlier post (on Natural Gardening) are fun, too.
(Note: this is a duplicate post: here and first to Natural Gardening, my own wildlife observation and gardening blog).