The new year, 2010, apparently isn't the only thing that has just been born: A small female squirrel is coming to our back door and she is very obviously nursing.
Spring baby season is out of kilter with the calendar, or so it seems. The annual December pairings generally don't produce the year's first crop of neonates until February (late January at the earliest).
So why - if my observations are correct - does the New Year's baby for 2010 promise to sport a bushy tail?
The seasons have begun to blend together. Mid-summer, normally a hiatus of a few weeks between the spring births and the fall arrivals, is now simply a continuation of the population assembly line. Gestation periods - 45 to 48 days - haven't changed, so are squirrels mating more, and more often?
We may never know. We can only hope, at this juncture, that this little mother squirrel, and the many others who are likely out there, are tucking their little ones in safe and warm beneath their fur, safe from an otherwise hostile blanket of snow and ice.