Posted by: atowhee | November 12, 2019

PHYSICS OF PHYSICAL MOTION

A tree squirrel is a marvelous creature.  I’ve been known to rail against their “theft” of  bird food, their devouring of suet, their rapacious consumption of “my” apple crop.  Yet they are always an entertaining set of acrobats.  Right now we have five that regularly come into our garden and eat until their little bellies form small, gray, inflated balloons. The species here in McMinnville I believe to be western gray squirrel (scirus grieseus).

I WAS WRONG ABOUT SQUIRREL SP.  SEE THIS NOTE FROM READER:”I see too much brownish or tan on the face of your squirrel. Western Gray are nearly all gray without tan, brown or ochreous color. I think you have a nasty Eastern Gray SquIrrel! Our poor Western Grays are in big trouble in the northern end of the Willamette Valley.  I took mammalogy because I couldn’t see the difference in squirrels.  yours in all things native,
Shawn Schmelzer”

These squirrels seem to be among those mammals that are inherently and then, with age, exemplary empirical masters of physics.  There are other such creatures: bats, flying squirrels, the arboreal monkeys, sea mammals, otters.  The grave import of gravity,  harmonic motion, calculations of speed and weight and friction and distance for each leap through the air–these all require some sort of internal slide rule, a “calculator” to those born since 1960.  The squirrels I watch daily, often just half-noticing their doings, their darings, their daring-does,  leaps across gaps between foot-holds, races along the top of two-inch wide fence, hanging by two legs while two  more scoop up the goodies.  Allare matter of course, daily.

I recently stopped my navel-gazing and cell phone addiction long enough to enjoy one squirrel’s penchant for a pendulum hammock, a hanging feeder platform that swings in a frantic back and forth each time the critter jumps onto it and begins to feed.  The free-riding, free-loading squirrel not once loses his balance, his nonchalance, his rhythm of seed consumption.

Here you see the set-up.  Launch site is the top of the nearby trellis where squirrel now sits.  He (or she) will leap down onto the platform and get into the swing of the thing:IMG_6778 (2).JPGHere, riding the pendulum, eating on the swing.  The last image captures the instant of right-hand apogee of the platform’s arc. Click on any image to see full-screen version.

Even acrobats must rest:


Responses

  1. Hi Harry, I see too much brownish or tan on the face of your squirrel. Western Gray are nearly all gray without tan, brown or ochreous color. I think you have a nasty Eastern Gray Squrrel! Our poor Western Grays are in big trouble in the northern end of the Willamette Valley.

    I took mammalogy because I couldn’t see the difference in squirrels.

    yours in all things native,
    Shawn Schmelzer


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