28 mar 2019
update 12 april 2020
an extended squirrel clan hangs out in our yard, a small animal paradise; quarter acre of plants and trees, most intentionally bearing edible fruit and clean running water. there's an opposum too but she's like a crazy bag lady that lives under a bridge and comes out only to lick sap then run away when anyone sees her. she lives in the grapevine i think.
anyways the squirrels are social so they get give and like and give attention.
last year it was the scrub jays that i got to do tricks for peanuts (impaled on the ends of palm leaves so they had to hover, etc). they would be so pleased they'd come show me the nut when the got it. they all left when i got friendly to the squirrels because they hate the squirrels for some reason. whatever.
i made up a game with the yogurt container they steal nuts from. put a walnut under the container. they're looking 180 degrees for predators, not always paying attention to me directly, they seem to miss "obvious" cues. [april 2020 note: it was fear. Now that they understand me better they are much more relaxed and dog-like, except far superior attention skills.] but when they pay attention they seem to have good detailed (binocular) vision.
first intro failed (intro no go), i think. fairly sure it knew where the nut was, but it came in to get one from me directly. that's not dumb, that's smart -- it usually works, it's the social solution (social animals are smarter and get smarter faster since they share knowledge). it clearly did not know how to get the nut or quite 'where' it was, though certainly they hide and find things themselves, so the fundamental concept of 'inside' or 'under' isn't the problem.
(the trash can was where the yogurt container was; the only container that
can stop them.) the stump is where s/he watches me from, and will wait a
surprisingly long time (umm, longer than my attention span).
the second intro went better. i guess. obvoously they arte not starving and
seem to just like hanging out and getting attention.
what is that funny pose though? probably just what it looks like.
1st real try, where i just set it up and walked inside. no coaching/attention, s/he pushed the container, apparently randomly,
container gets stuck, goes over, nut.
2nd try seemed at first more random pushing, but multiple times
it stops and sniffs the (upward) container bottom. implying some
awareness or exploration of it's structure. eventually, nut.
3rd try... pushing again, but it looks like intent to drive it into
the box (the pause, nose lift, push to it's right), then up against the box,
the right paw pushes the container over. nut.
4th try and all subsequent: tipped over from the top first time every time
next morning too, push over immediately.
these two always come at the same time. i'm fairly sure it's the same two; one is very friendly, jumpy and climbs right up on me; the other is much more reticent. all members of the clan come for nuts, and often chase others away with a loud chatter noise, this pair included. but here they cooperate. [April 2020 note: same same. One is very friendly, climbs on me without hesitation, her sister won't come close, and is very vocal, like a cross between cat and dog. They still bicker.]
i think they think this is funny. when i ignore them (working on car, etc) they climb up on me as i ignore them, when i look they zoom down, dance, or climb back up. nut. the concept of "pocket" was easy to learn; their eyesight must be good because they try to 'open' seams and folds too.
i find them very difficult to tell apart visually, but their personalities are very distinct. sexing is easy, with their novelty-oversizey genitalia.
most mornings this one (or a few) come to the door, "excuse me sir the bird
feeder is empty".
unless i'm vigilant, they come into my lab to find the nuts. they often do google searches or play music.