Grabs the Green

Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi)

This Ground Squirrel in the Native Plant Area showed a preference for the youngest, freshest, lowest growing green stuff. As the video shows, this little furry leaf-eater proved far more devastating than any leaf-cutter ant or caterpillar. Whole leaves were gone in three quick bites. Munch, munch, munch and the whole plant was history.

Some plants, like the California Poppy, don’t stand a chance when Ground Squirrels are about. In September 2019, Cal student volunteers organized by the Chavez Park Conservancy planted hundreds of Cal poppy seeds in the southeast corner of the park. They all came up — only to be devoured by the squirrels, who consider the young poppy a special delicacy.

These voracious furry leaf-eaters are the reason why Conservancy volunteers this winter used wire mesh cages, like the one below, to protect new greens growing in the Native Plant Area. This is the beginning of a Native Pollinator Garden, with emphasis on the Monarch butterfly, that is gradually taking shape in the area. Donations to the Conservancy are funding purchase of the plants from local native nurseries, and Conservancy volunteers are watering the new shoots on a regular basis.

Wire mesh cage to protect tender new shoots against Ground Squirrels

P.S. Burrowing Owl Update:

The injured Second Owl was still missing as of 1 pm today; it was last seen Feb. 3. See “Owl Hurt?” Feb. 7 2022.

The First Owl (perched in the rip-rap, hard to see) was present yesterday but could not be found today. There is speculation that due to the warm weather this owl has decided to begin its northward migration. But this is speculation only. Watch this space for updates.

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