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Birdchick Podcast #18: Hummer Arrival, Curious Squirrel, Crazy Birders

Are ruby-throated hummingbirds in your area yet?

Violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty on Etsy–these earrings have red-shafted flicker feathers.

What the frak? A red starling?

What the heck is this squirrel doing??  Seriously, anyone know anything about squirrel behavior?

Popular Arizona Birding hot spot may have to close due to neighbor complaints of noisy birders, despite special use permit.

Male bird species reported more often than females during Project Feeder Watch.

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10 comments to Birdchick Podcast #18: Hummer Arrival, Curious Squirrel, Crazy Birders

  • Hey Sharon, I sent you a tweet about the squirrel two days ago :) . I suspect a baylisascaris infection (a.k.a. raccoon ringworm). It can affect their balance and central nervous system.

  • Erika

    I reported the legal violation to Etsy, if anyone else out there has an Etsy account I suggest they do the same. Hopefully they will unlist the item and explain the situation to the artist. It looks like she has a second item up with the woodpecker feathers as well (

    It’s probably an honest mistake but the treaty is in place for a reason.

  • Shannon

    I’m not a squirrel expert, but I’ve seen behavior similar to this in chipmunks. As a kid my mom didn’t permit pets in the house, so all my cats were outdoors only (so lots of bird and rodent hunting went on). I once caught one of my cats with a chipmunk that was still alive, and pinned the cat to get her to release the chipmunk. The chipmunk freaked right on out, and began acting a lot like this squirrel – which prompted me and the cat to run away. I saw the same thing again with another chipmunk that I saved from a cat at another time. In both cases, after freaking out for a while the chipmunk seemed to return to its senses and just run away like a normal chipmunk – kind of like how the squirrel seems to be acting normal at the end of this video.

    So maybe the squirrel had just escaped a near death experience? Just a guess. I hope you find a more definitive answer.

  • klia

    I’m not any sort of academic squirrel expert, but I LOVE squirrels, and have been watching both squirrels’ and birds’ behavior for most of my life, and that looks like pretty normal squirrel behavior to me. I think of it as the squirrelly crazies, the way cats sometimes do kitty crazies, and I’ve seen it a LOT. It’s pretty common to see babies act like total goofballs (with each other, their mother, and alone), and adults during mating seasons, like now (which has made me wonder for years if it might be something to do with pheromones?). In fact, I saw one doing squirrelly crazies in my yard yesterday, and it then ran up a tree and started sniffing and trying to groom another squirrel, and they ended up in a mad chase.

    So, FWIW, I don’t think it’s sick, and seeing that kind of behavior wouldn’t trigger any red flags for me.

  • DariaW

    W/O reading the whole thing, I found myself wondering about flickers, as they don’t seem to migrate where I live. They also seem to have a propensity to run into windows and moving cars. It may be that’s how the feathers were acquired.

  • Even if you did not kill the bird and you found it after it hit the window or whatever, it’s still illegal to keep the feathers if you do not have state and federal permits. Native bird species are never to be used for commercial sale and doing so is opening yourself up for fines from US Fish and Wildlife.

  • DariaW

    Well, I brought the subject up at a milliners convention and it turns out we were all ignorant together, but as people who make fishing flies have similar issues, I’m sure I’ll find information if I research. It’s hard to believe that native birds, like ducks, which are hunted can’t be used.

  • I know that DNR and US Fish and Wildlife Agents have special training to id illegal feathers, I could see how it would be hard for someone ordering a bunch of feathers to know whether or not they have illegal ones.

  • DariaW

    People who make baskets also have this issue, it turns out. Perhaps we’ll cultivate our aquaintence w/ local chicken folk. One milliner I know says feathers just show up on her doorstep.