Holes out here Just Off the One-Lane Road will soon be at a premium. This is the shopping season for both four- and two-legged critters, as they roam the forest (and our yard) seeking shelter for their impending brood. Soon most of the holes will have a “No Vacancy” sign out and the 2010 nesting season will be underway.
All kinds of critters have designs on holes here. For example, we have flying squirrels. Of course they are nocturnal, so I had to borrow a photo to show you these “adorable” little “winged” creatures. But, I’ve held them in my hand. Years ago, MM knocked down an old “widow-maker” and out flew six or seven flying squirrels. He brought one to show me before turning it loose again in the vicinity of the old toppled tree. It was love at first sight! They are soooo cute with their big eyes, soft fur and outspread webs between their front and back legs that enable them to soar.
The Southern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys volans, seeks out tempting tree holes for nesting (and also is willing to use--and make a mess of!--any overhead storage space they can find). Some 40 days after mating in late winter, they “whelp” and raise their annual batch of anywhere from two to six young. Often, the holes they choose are located in the tops of old Beech trees, which, as you have seen in my recent posts, usually offer lots of choices. Flying squirrels are such endearing little creatures! They actually do glide through the trees by night--30 to 40 feet at one leap, playing tag through the trees and eating acorns. Of course, they sleep during the day. According to several sources, they make wonderful pets. But please, don’t remove them from their habitat with that in mind! Folks around here have an alternate name: Fairy Diddles.
Others of the squirrel family may nest in a hole, here, too, although leaf nests are generally preferred by Greys and Fox squirrels.
Woodpeckers are the great hole-MAKERS. Rummaging in old snags, prospecting for bugs, they create and enlarge existing holes in their constant search for food. When the Pileated decides to visit us, chips fly! Everybody's archetype of Woody Woodpecker, this large handsome bird is an efficient hunter, with a sideline carpentry business of making homes for others.
The word “hole” has many connotations, if you think about it. Here’s a list: A wide deep spot in a river –a swimming hole; a small, deep bay—as in Wood’s Hole; a dingy, dirty place – such as “it was a real hole;” to hibernate –the bear was holed up; in the hole – meaning to be in debt; a gap or break – a hole in the wall; a tear in fabric – it had a hole; eager to spend money – burning a hole in his pocket; golf – hole in one and other hole references of the game, including locations as in 9th hole; a gap in the flow of logic –there was a hole in his thinking. You'll undoubtedly think of more!
No matter the alternate meanings of the word, though, hole means home during the next few months, for the larger part of the population here JOTOLR!