"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
About Bayou Bill
Recent Rambles
DNR Doings
Wild Recipes



Squirrels, Chicory, Birds and Paw-Paws
Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

A reader of this column, and my website (http://bayoubill.com), has come up with what may be a new development in squirrel behavior. It’s a phenomenon I don’t think will ring true in the final analysis, but still is worthy of consideration.

This reader tells me there is a possible new method which squirrels (presumably fox and gray squirrels) use in relocating nuts, acorns and other morsels after they have been buried in the earth. Heretofore, the scientific people have maintained that squirrels do not have the capacity to recall where these things are buried (very shallow in the humus of wooded areas and elsewhere). Instead, we are told -- and I am inclined to believe -- that it is strictly a matter of squirrels having the facility for smelling these items . . . and digging neat little holes to go directly to them. 

Now, however, I am made aware that my informant has observed evidence that squirrels place twigs (on the surface of the earth) just above morsels of food that have been buried. These, I am told, may help the squirrels locate the site and they dig straight to the buried item. Squirrels do dig straight to the food . . . there are no experimental digs.

My informant is trying to get photographic evidence to prove the theory, and if this is accomplished, this column will try to reproduce it. In the meantime, the theory deserves attention of the habits of squirrels.

CHICORY -- Chicory, subdued now, but still very obvious along country roads not skinned by mowers, continues to flash its worthiness as the state flower in spite of the purists’ notion that the state flower must be a wildflower and a native. The peony, our state wildflower since 1957 (apparently when the legislature had nothing better to do), is neither native, nor wild. Chicory shares those distinctions, but it probably is noticed by more Hoosiers than any wildflower and its powder blue color makes it one of our most spectacular.

Go Chicory!

VISITORS -- In the last couple of weeks migrating birds have presented a show at my house (southern Hamilton County) that has not been rivaled by southward migrants for many years.

First there was a flood of fall warblers picking insets from the bottoms of leaves of maple trees, and on their heels (make it wings) came a big flight of thrushes (mostly gray-cheeked) to do likewise on a magnolia tree just outside my double glass doors.

All the more stunning about the thrush movement was the fact that I have never before observed point-blank such a phenomenal group of thrush.

My little backyard magnolia literally hosted a steady string of thrush for two days and they seemed to come in pairs, although there always seemed to be a number of others flitting about the trees.

ON PAW-PAWS -- Last week’s column dealt heavily on determining when paw-paws are ripe, but now, it seems, one should let the wild fruits do their thing and simply be a harvester when the time is right, or when they are green and solid, and allowed to ripen in a place that is free of raccoons.

In any event, I am convinced that if one finds green (unripe) paw-paws on the bushes (trees), he will do well to shake them down and harvest them . . . to beat the burgeoning raccoon population. (Incidentally, there is some thought that the raccoon population is down some, but still much too plentiful.)

The idea is that paw-paws will ripen indoors, especially when exposed to the light of day. Just peel them, somewhat like potatoes, and scrape the peelings gently to save the pulpy, cream-colored substance that clings to the peelings. That, plus the main body of the fruit, can be used in a number of dishes -- including cookies, cakes and pies -- in much the same ways that one uses persimmon pulp or pumpkin.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

 Return to beginning of document
Return to Bayou Bill's Home Page