Pookie: Nesting and Litter Observations on the Burgin Property

[Note: Ordinarily I try not to edit Jenn's comments but this one is a collage of 3-4 messages with some overlapping content.  I tried to remove duplicated material without losing information.  Any choppiness is a result of my meddling.  I would recommend reading  Snowflake's page in conjunction with this one - RRG] 

Pookie is Snowflakes Daughter from her 2nd to last litter: one gray, one white. Snowflake dropped her while trying to relocate to a new nest.  I was watching and retrieved Pookie, brought her to the base of new tree and handed her back to her mother after checking for injury.  Pookie continued to be uncooperative and struggled all the way up; this time both Snowflake and Pookie fell, landing in the leaves.  It was getting near dusk, so I brought Pookie in for night.  Snowflake retired to nest with the other baby. Next morning I brought Pookie out to her mother and she tried again, I left them alone and later that afternoon I drove up and found Pookie curled in a ball at the base of the tree, tired and hungry. So I brought her in, hydrated her and for next week invited Snowflake in two-three times a day to nurse her in the crate she was in.  I eventually gave up on that process because Pookie was having identity crises every time Momma left, acting afraid of me for 15 minutes or so.  I felt it was more stressful than beneficial and took over full time feeding. That was Spring of 2001.  Snowflake had one more litter in the fall, 4 grays before she disappeared.

Pookie had her first litter Feb. 2002 but she stopped nursing abruptly after 2 1/2 - 3 weeks and I presume  a predator got them.  She had another litter late last summer; two males: one white, one gray.  I got to watch her move them to new nest and observe considerable interactions.  She is far less secretive than Snowflake but oddly, will not let me handle her which Snowflake would until the day she disappeared. Pookie had her 3rd litter about 1 1/2 weeks ago, in one of the same nests Snowflake used. Her two babies from 2nd litter are only a few trees away, still in the nest she weaned them in.

 She has taken over a nest in a cavity that Snowflake used for several litters. It is interesting that she and her mother before her, seem to cycle through the same 3-4 nests.  Several have been active for 5+ years, being refurbished each season.  She must defend these nests as no other squirrels have taken up residence in them.  Another group of whites in another part of our property use three cavity sites over and over. Often the mother delivers in one, moves to another when babies are between 4-5 weeks and stays in new nest with offspring.  With this other group I am just assuming it is the mother that returns to the first cavity for next litter; I can't get as close, nor do I know them quite as well as Pookie and (Snowflake before her).   Pookie is coming out of nest briefly to eat, not staying away more than a few minutes. I am providing food and water at base of tree, she will come and eat directly from my hand, but startles if any movement or noise nearby and runs back into nest.

Another white I released had a litter 2 years ago and her nest was raided by something, and I rescued 3 babies from the ground while mother practically charged me to get them back. All were covered in blood, one had to be euthanized, a white, but one white and one gray survived.  Buttercup is the white's name. Buttercup's Momma had two babies last spring, one white and one gray, and I noticed she appears to be lactating now.  She will come to the deck for handouts but will not take from my hand.  She was a spinal cord injured adult who never did like me. Because of observing nesting patterns and interactions of mother and offspring ( and because I don't have a life and watch squirrels much to much) I have been able to track the variations in the head patch and dorsal stripes and confirm that specific patterns are inherited.