When something from above scares your nuts to drop

Articles about our world interest me. It could be scientific, political, anthropomorphic, or any number of topics. This morning, I read an article at Smithsonian. About squirrels.

First, a disclaimer. I have a thing for squirrels. Oh wait. I have a thing for all animals. But, squirrels in particular, are pretty dang cute, and amazing. I think they are incredibly smart about the gathering of nuts, and storing them for later, in hidden spaces, and hidden time. Besides. They are so finely acrobatic.

The article. It said, of course, that when a squirrel hears an “alarm” call, it reacts accordingly. So if the shriek of a red-tailed hawk falls a cross the sky, a squirrel will act with an alerted sense of danger. They assess. They duck and dodge. They hide themselves in the thick of things.

But the next part is curious. A group of researchers at Oberlin College in Ohio found some interesting behavior.

The squirrels stay hidden and concealed, until they hear the normal clatter of the rest of the birds. Once the birds up above start moving around, chirping and singing and such, the squirrels come out and start scampering about on the green, green grass, once again.

They have made the connection. If the Blue Jays say it’s cool to come out, it must be cool to come out. Again, it is one of those things in nature that prove just how wonderfully tight it is all stitched together, one thing overlapping the next. All of it dependent on the all of it.

The thing that may be even more amazing is how the “study” ever came into existence. Don’t you wonder how they came on to the topic? Were the three researches sitting around on a picnic bench, eating Cheddar Cheese Pringles, when one of them said, “I wonder how long it takes for squirrels to come out of hiding, after a hawk flies over?” And the other two, were like, “Oh. Yeah. Hey. When do they know it’s okay to come back out and play? Let’s put on our lab coats and study.”

Who knows. Anyway. There it is. The Gray Squirrels of Oberlin are in the books. All 54 of them that were observed and recorded. Making their Squirrel Mamas proud.

Squirrels basically have a few predators to worry about, and this seems like a go-to solution for them, knowing when the coast is clear.

Humans don’t have it quite so easy. We face dangers in many areas of our lives. Not just physical dangers. Emotional, intellectual, spiritual dangers come in many forms too. Heck, even Political dangers. Sometimes they aren’t very well defined as being our “predators” — but silently ( or not so silently ) they are.

Most of the time, we try to reason our way out of things. Whatever the circumstance might be. But in many cases, that is easier said and done. Perhaps, we should follow the way of the squirrel, and rely on our natural surroundings to give us a nudge. Maybe we should listen for the music that says it’s okay to come back out again.

Just in time to go gather the rest of our nuts, for later.


“When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.”
― Herman Wouk


“Almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.”
― Robert A. Heinlein


“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”
― John F. Kennedy