Squirrels in my oak tree

I have a problem with squirrels in my oak tree once the acorns come out. I don't mind the squirrels at all but they chew off the tips of the branches then come down to the ground to get the acorns off of them. It makes both the tree and the lawn look horrible. I don't want to put the aluminum cone around the tree to stop them from climbing. Does anyone know of any kind of repellant that will keep them from climbing my tree?
Thanks in advance,
Bill
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On 21 Jul 2003 09:28:46 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@haroldbeck.com (Bill Short) wrote:

I have a problem with squirrals in my two oaks. I don't have enough of them!! Acorns are the ultimate squirral food and they need to start stashing food for this winter. If i didn't want them, i would cut down the trees. If they chew your branches, which i have never seen, then they must chew my branches too, and my trees look great, year after year.
Hope you find a solution. If the trees are old, the squirrals have probably been counting on those nuts for a long time. Maybe you could wack the nuts out of the tree FOR them...
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paghat, please give the source for this information about squirrels rarely eating buds. I have never heard tell of this only starting with starvation conditions and would like to learn more. It appears that every squirrel I have ever encountered in my lifetime has harvested buds in the spring, so maybe it is only rare around your location.
BT
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Around here they seem to prefer the hickory nuts, which really ticks me off. Then they move onto the red & white oaks (now I just need a blue oak and I'll have a patriotic forest heh).
If you get rid of the squirrels, then the acorns will ripen and instead of smaller, half-ripe acorns falling on stuff, you will have fully ripened, heavier acorns :) You just can't win.
Dan
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wrote:

In my area (SF bay area) I have Douglas' Squirrels which are tree squirrels. I find short chewed-off branches on the ground under my olives and cedars all the time and attribute it to nest building. The squirrels were here long before I was, and our trees have survived decades of such activity and look great.

Bud-harvesting was common on my property when I first moved here, but the poor squirrels were starving. I began feeding the squirrels and birds and now they leave my tree buds and daffodils alone. I can't keep them out of my azaleas, though, for some reason they find the blossoms delicious. I've even found them carrying off blossoms to line their nests.
BTW, for the original poster, the German word for squirrel (Eichhrnchen) means "oak kitten."
- Figmo
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Douglas squirrels (& further north Red or Chickaree squirrel) prefer pine forests to any other & the first proof of their presence is piles of cone scales at the foot of trees. People who go into the woods to gather pine nuts watch for evidence of Douglas or Red squirrel caches, then rob the squirrels. Late in the year when the cones are ready to harvest, they're nipped from the trees with a little length of stem attached, then they descend to the ground & remove the cones from the branches & bury them. That at least is their behavior if human presence doesn't alter their behavior.
When they live near people (& they're just about the only squirrels besides the much more common grey squirrels that LIKE to live near people & do so very successfully), their behavior has to take advantage of more kinds of trees & is less focused on pine-nuts as primary resources, but I can easily imagine they'd continue to clip small limbs of whatever they were harvesting & descend to bury the extra. This would ordinarily amount to healthful pruning though. The reason so many cultivars need pruning to be in best form is because plants even in the wild are pruned by grazing animals, squirrels, birds, & even by stormy weather.

Not all squirrels are horders like grey, douglas, & red squirrels. Most people live near greys only, & the large squirrels will not harvest buds unless their horded food resources ran out in late winter & there is no choice of food BUT buds so early in the new year. As you found out, if better food resources are provided to them in late winter/early spring, red, douglas, or greys don't want buds. But flying squirrels live in a tighter hunting range, & take advantage of less high-fat food resources than do grey squirrels, & for them tree buds are predictably a normal part of their late winter diet. Hardly anyone ever blames them because people don't even realize they have tree squirrels about. They are in some cities THE most common mammal & far outnumber grey squirrels or racoons or possums or any other mammal that has adapted to city life, but flying squirrels are so profoundly nocturnal & shy, only the city workers who clip tree limbs out of telephone wires know how common they are.
Interesting your Douglas squirrels will eat azalea blossoms. Deciduous azaleas may I ask? It's not a harvesting choice I knew about, but the western deciduous azalea is extremely redolent, its sweetness can be smelled twenty feet away, & I can imagine squirrels taking a liking to them. It strikes me, though, like one of those "regional" learned habits that might not carry through to populations in other areas.

I always translated it "acorn kitty." I used to give English instruction to Japanese folks, who cannot say "squirrel." Another word many Japanese people have trouble saying is "cat" which always comes out "Kato," as there are no words in Japanese that end in T. But squirrel is much more extreme, as ot has three sounds in it that have no parallel enunciation in Japanese -- no Japanese words with the "skw" "irr" OR a concluding "el", so that one little word is like their worst tongue-twister, but since this was on the U.W. campus which is just crawling with semi-tame grey squirrels, it was a word everyone had need one. So one of the lessons focused on a word they would never be able to say even close enough for a hearer to figure it out, & after some few moments of frustration & not even coming close with "squirrel" I'd suggest "acorn kitty" which was easy to say.
(Which reminds me, the only syllable in the name Edgar Allan Poe pronouncable in Japanese is "Poe". Japanese pronounce the name Edo-gawa-rampo, & the classic Japanese author Edogawa Rampo really believed he had taken Poe's name as his own pseudonym for Japanese publication.)
-paghat

--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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...snip...

...snip...
paghat, could you please indicate your source for the above information you have shared with us. Or perhaps explain why grey squirrels that live in a park next to houses with birdfeeding stations filled with sunflower seeds and cracked corn still find the need to eat tree buds every year?
Here is a reference that indicates the squirrels always eat buds..."When the buds of elm, oak, and white and sugar maples are swelling, the squirrel may be seen perched precariously far in the treetops feeding on them and the flowers or catkins. Grasping a stem in its hands, the gray squirrel clips it with sharp teeth, then, revolving the cluster, eats the buds one by one. For three or four weeks each year it lives largely on this delicate fare." , taken from http://www.kellydickey.com/blackpowderclub/facts&fun/animals/graysquirrel/graysq uirrel.htm
And here is another reference..."The Gray Squirrel is omnivorous, eating buds, leaves, fruits, seeds (mostly from deciduous trees), insects, and bird eggs (Cowan and Guiguet 1973; Banfield 1974). Their preference for these food items changes with availability and phenological stage of the vegetation; swelling buds are fed upon during early spring, flowers and samaras in late spring. A variety of fruits (especially nuts) are eaten during summer and fall for forming a thick layer of fat (Banfield 1974; Woods 1980). This squirrel also stockpiles a winter supply of food in underground storage piles called middens. ", taken from http://srmwww.gov.bc.ca/risc/pubs/tebiodiv/pisc/piscml20-07.htm
BT
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seasonal dietary needs? I don't know about you, but if I were a dog, I'd get tired of eating dried kibble everyday. or maybe the squirrels have learned to stay way from humans and birdfeeders ... not worth the hassle.

I always thought that a midden was a dung pile and not stock pile.
-- Salty
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In the term's special usage with red squirrels, the midden is the visible part of a red squirrel's cache or larder hoard (the actual area of the food is called the larder hoard, not the midden that may be the larder hoard's cap). The larder hoard usually consists of cone scales & forest floor rubble pushed over a depression in the ground. This will USUALLY be underneath a midden heap, but not invariably, as some of the squirrel larders are in rotting trees, & the midden heap on the ground outside. For red squirrels the larder hoard is primarily pine cones or spruce cones. Occasionally a midden is just a rubble pile with no cache behind it (in a rotting out tree) nor under it (in the ground), as the squirrel will have a "feeding branch" the next tree over, from which it has a particularly good view of the environment as it eats, & a midden will accumulate under a feeding branch separate from the larder horde.
When speaking short-hand rather than drawing a fuller picture, the distinction between the midden & the larder is not apt to be made, even though they're not invariably together.
But the REALLY incorrect thing about BT's mere paragraph of "knowledge" is that he quotes a website on grey squirrels, WHICH DO NOT BUILD MIDDENS! Greys & reds both hoard food for the winter, but a grey squirrel's hoard is called a "scatter hoard" which will be over a more extensive area of individually "planted" beechnuts or acorns (or whichever local yummies they rely on) rather than a larder in one place. I won't fault BT too much for not knowing the difference, only for pretending to know anything at all; for it was a government website, & one would expect to be able to trust it a bit more than 99% of google hits, most of which contain even more outrageous nonsense.
The page was clearly patched together by a government flunky who did a pretty good job for a government flunky who was not even permitted to sign the work. It was based on serious works, but clearly no one actually knoweldgeable checked the condensation & redaction for errors. Most of the synoptic statements credit sources (the synopsiser seems not read many of the primary sources himself, but copied the citations from some longer overview).
The majority of the page is a pretty good job, but more than the midden error reveals no personal working knowledge on the synopsizer's part. No source at all is offered for the midden statement, because it was not from any of the articles being condensed -- the condenser obviously felt safe tacking on the one thing he thought he actually knew. Any of us might make the same sort of mistake if we'd been given that government flunky's task. When I write a monograph for publication (such as most recently on American victorian author Alice Brown), I have others knowledgeable in my field go over the near-final draft, hoping exactly that sort of goofy error will be spotted; given that the government flunky was out of his depths, he did a damned good job. And of course BT, not knowing anything of the topic personally, is to be forgiven for not recognizing even such a howling error, for goshwow, the government flunky uses big terms like Biogeoclimatic Zone. That might've fooled me too if I hadn't an actual interest in rodents & a working knowledge a bit greater than can be instantly googled.
The food habits section of the page was just generally very poorly done, so a bit unfortunate it was BT's favorite bit. It would indeed cause know-nothings to assume bird eggs & flower buds are a food equal in importance to nuts & berries for grey squirrels. The list even includes leaves. A squirrel on a diet of leaves & buds would literally starve to death because its caloric expenditure would be five or ten times its caloric intake! And squirrels VERY RARELY touch bird eggs. It's "heard of," yes, but only just; for many squirrels will eat vastly more pizza crusts in their lifetimes than will ever raid bird nests, so why weren't pizza crusts on that list? Although the assertion is not incorrect, because it DOES happen, the paragraph on food choices does not give a correct general picture. So, BT found a frankly stupid list, first of all wildly incomplete leaving off primary diet items but including less common ones -- so that closing with the stupidest of all statements, that grey squirrels build middens, just caps the worst part of the government flunky's condensations & redactions.
It's a classic case of why anyone who relies exclusively on google searches for the full sum of their knowledge will rarely acquire a working knowledge of anything.
-paghat the ratgirl

--
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"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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you have

park next

cracked corn

I have an EXTENSIVE personal library of books about all manner of rodents, but the majority of what I've noted could be found even in the most generic field gkuide such as National Audobon Guide to N.A. Mammals which, for instance, does not mention buds as one of the grey squirrel's food items because it is not their standard food item. That doesn't mean they never eat them & I was clear on that, but squirrels' nutrient needs would not be met by a diet of buds so it's a back-up food for emergency conditions -- but as I said, squirrels have such rich personalities & individuality that even unusual behaviors may occur in some populations.

flowers or

or four

http://www.kellydickey.com/blackpowderclub/facts&fun/animals/graysquirrel/graysq
"MAY EAT" is definitely NOT the same as your paraphrase "ALWAYS EAT," & you certainly never caught me saying NEVER eat, in fact I adhered to the facts of it, MAY eat. If what they ALWAYS eat, such as acorns or beechnuts, are horded in sufficient quantities,they don't have to rely on foods better suited for ruminants in winter. But I've in no way implied they won't eat some opening buds -- I say (correctly) it is something they eat only when their caches are empty & they have no other options. The PRIMARY foods (for grey squirrels) acorn, hickery, walnut, beechnut, peacan, maple & tulip tree seeds, & if cultivation fields are accessible, the germ-end of corn kernels. One could add to that french fries & picnickers' potato chips & gardeners' flower buds, sure, but not for squirrels whose primary diet choices are adequate.

forming
stockpiles
You certainly didn't see me saying anything different from that, so I don't know quite why you're flipping out. But if you ever decide to become bookish rather than googlish you'll get a more complete picture, but even as an instant-googler you'll make better observations if you can only stop misreading your scant paragraph of knowledge as "ALWAYS" where no such errors appear.
It should be noted again that the Douglas or Red squirrel has a different set of preferences. Grey & Red squirrel ranges by states overlap a great deal, but they live in different forests. While the Grey would eat PRIMARILY nuts & seeds of oak, beech, hickery, & maple, the red squirrel would be in an old-growth forest & eat primarily pine nuts. But with squirrels there are few absolutes, & studies of squirrel caches show they both will harvest the others' preferred diets, plus some populations have peculiar individualistic likes & dislikes.
Meaning that speaking in generalities is just that, & I've been clear with each of my posts that these are general principles, not the absolutes & alwayses you strangely wish to misread them as.

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"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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(Bill Short) wrote:

I so glad a true expert could chime in on this issue. I had no idea that squirrels eat acorns. You're sure about that right? Amazing. You're probably also right when you say that they don't chew off the tips of the branches. I'll bet it's my kids doing that. I'll have to talk to them about that. And from what you say it sounds like the only purpose for these trees is to produce acorns to feed squirrels since you say you would cut them down if you didn't want squirrels. Who needs shade and fresh air. Those things are overrated anyway.
In conclusion, your insights have been invaluable. If you think of anything else I hope you'll forward it along. In the mean time I'd better get up in that tree and starting whacking the nuts down.
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