About Me

My photo
Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Spooky cameras and squirrelly neophobia

The spooky camera on the fence post
 with the ominous blinking red eye. 


We visited my daughter's family in northern Virginia over Thanksgiving, and there was so much squirrel traffic on the neighbor's rail fence that I decided to get some video clips.

The fence was a high speed overpass to the neighbor's bird feeders.

Squirrels raced to and fro along the top rail and hurdled the tops of the fence posts.

This definitely had possibilities for camera trapping, so I set a camera against one of the posts and waited a few hours for eye-level videos of on-coming Olympians leaping over the camera.

The squirrels regarded the camera as a scary intruder.

Maybe it was just the camera as a novel object, but I also got the impression that the blinking red eye (the passive infrared status light) made it even more spooky.

I set a second camera to see exactly what was going on, and this little video tells the story.


17 comments:

Anonymous said...

You really know how to have fun, Codger! Charming piece
of work.
JoEllen

Camera Trap Codger said...

Happy New Year, JoEllen.

Martie said...

Funny stuff and great narration!

Anonymous said...

We have both the western grey squirrel and eastern fox squirrel in our yard which leads to some interesting altercations. Mostly there's just a lot of chattering and tail waving, but I have seen some brief physical interactions. Our yard is full of blue oaks and, I guess, acorns so must be more desirable than our neighbors ratty lawns. I know they covet the few persimmons produced by our one spindly tree. So far, the ballsy little eastern fox squirrels seem to be winning- I will miss the greys if they are displaced. Given the number of lead footed squirrels galloping over our roof in the spring, you'd think we would see some nests, but I must not be observant enough- or they are really good at camouflage.
Kathi S

Cindy said...

I'm really curious about the one-paw-on-the-chest gesture. Do you ever see them do that at other times?

biobabbler said...

SO delightful. =) The tripod pose is not one that's familiar to me. Clearly I'm not paying close enough attention to our squirrels (100% greys, and holding).

*sigh*

Thanks for the very fun and brilliantly annotated study of studiers.

Camera Trap Codger said...

The "tripod stance" is a common posture of uncertainty or hesitation in many mammals. It is usually seen in response to strange objects. The classical ethologists called it an "intention movement", as it seems to indicate an arrested intention to take a step forward. Artificial selection of this movement gave rise to the "frozen tripod stance" of pointer dogs.

Cougarmagic said...

Video!! Welcome to the dark side muahahaha. I never knew about the tripod stance. Very interesting!

Chas Clifton said...

Great editing.

Joe said...

Interesting that they wouldn't jump over the cameras.

Camera Trap Codger said...

I might add, that after I removed one of the cameras the squirrels continued to avoid the site, as if the camera was still there. I don't know when they reverted to their old ways, because that was the end of the trip.

Cindy said...

I was wondering if maybe the pattern of either the light flashing or a sound inside the camera reminded them of something and that is why they were so freaked out. Like maybe the heartbeat of a predator or their own heartbeat.

bigcatdetective said...

Brilliant vid,thoroughly enjoyed watching it.Our grey,s over here are very cautious too at times,i wonder if i can employ a camera trap to stop them nicking the bird food put out....

Camera Trap Codger said...

Cindy, I think it was just the blinking light and the cam itself as a foreign object that triggered the caution.

BCD -- glad you brought it up - I was waiting for someone to think of that. It is worth a try, but I'll bet that when it comes to sunflower seeds hunger trumps fear.

Dar said...

I'm new here Codger! I like your sense of humor and have read a few of your entries. Guess I'll hang around a bit. I posted Bob, the Bobcat a few entries ago, if you're interested. Soon I will be posting two of them that have been visiting deer carcass' that I have a trail camera on. Pretty interesting stuff, to me at least.
Love the antics and narration of the scamper rats...lol

BlessYourHeart

BB said...

Great Sir! Thank you for sharing.

Jace Stansbury said...

Codger- this is absoultely hilarious.