Greg Duncan


Le Cirque de L’écureuil

Look up. Look way up. Do you see those clusters of leaves and branches perched up high in the trees now that winter has come and branches are bare? What are these mysterious dark clumps reaching for the sky? Don’t see them in spring or summer, only in winter. A clue may be the sudden appearance of peanut and other nut and seed shells around your property, like I have found year after year up on the hill here in Notre-Dame-de-l’Ile-Perrot.

I find these food stashes in flower boxes, under patio chair cushions, and in my shed. Found one in the spring under my lawn mower once, too. Not a safe place for a stash, I think. Another clue may be the comings and goings along what I call the rodent highway. Those handy power and telephone lines running between poles are actually squirrel autoroutes you know, and this year the highways are very busy.

I am privileged to have a front-row seat at the daily performance of Le Cirque de L’écureuil as these critters traverse and forage around our property. We gave up on feeding birds a few years ago having found no feeder that can withstand toothy dismemberment and attacks of persistent and ingenious locksmiths. These grey squirrels gnawed through some carbon steel once. It’s true. Winter light in the Off Island area provides a silvery back-lit perspective and our seasonal views of hidden clusters up in the trees are actually squirrel nests, or dreys. The foraging that occurs throughout the day is apparently due to the forgetfulness, as squirrels simply cannot remember where they stashed the goodies and go out in search for them daily. This activity is kind of like me looking for my wallet.

Our squirrels often get sidetracked by our garden compost heap that serves as a handy canteen for an unending variety of birds. Oh look, there’s the Flying J. Also, who knew that local wildlife prefers beets versus Brussels sprouts and broccoli? I don’t really like either, so composting is a good solution for me.

Next time you are out and about on your daily rounds or go out on the porch to get your morning newspaper, tilt your head back and assume the squirrel-watching stance and look way up in the trees. Do you see them?


  1. Very interesting article. I must confess that I have lived in Dorval for 34 years and have always assumed that these were crows nests.

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