Ever since the movie Up came out, we have used this word a lot. Especially with kids. It's funny to us, because many kid's attention spans are just like that dog from the movie. (Oh, if you haven't watched this movie - it's animated - be prepared. It's not all sunshine and rainbows. I cried a lot watching this one.) Anyway, on to a real squirrel - the Flying Squirrel!
Contrary to popular belief, flying squirrels are quite common. They just happen to be active after it gets dark, so we don't really have a chance to see them. Also, as I'm sure you know, they don't actually fly, they glide using wide skin flaps between their front and back legs to catch air. It's like when a sky diver wears one of those suits with the extra fabric going from arm to leg on each side. The principle is the same.
As you know, we have several bird feeders set up and a couple of them are just under a window. Well, when you feed the birds you also feed other animals and we happen to have some flying squirrels that like to dine at the buffet. Most often these guys come out right at dusk during the winter. A couple of weeks ago however, they were out right in the middle of the day. How fun! The following pictures are taken through the window, so please forgive the poor quality.
The first thing these shy guys do is peek out from behind the shutters. Got to make sure the way is clear! Note their large eyes for seeing in the dark.
Here we go!
Leaping out from the safety of the shutters, he's got his eye on the prize!
I love this one. It totally looks like he's diving. Don't be fooled by these pics. This is all happening really fast. It's peek, jump, grab, jump back to the shutter, and eat the seed. Don't blink too much or you'll miss it.
While this one chooses he seed, you can really get a good look at those big eyes. Also you can see where that important flap of skin is. Right now of course, it's all folded up because he's not using it. In this picture and the next you can get a good look at his very flat tail. He will use it as a rudder to help guide him during his glide.
Flying squirrels are pretty cute, I'll admit and they are chock full of cool adaptations to help them survive. Try a look-see at night sometime, you may be surprised at what you find!