I have noticed over the past couple of weeks my two red squirrels are going mad over food and burying food. I have never known them act like this. I have 4 squirrel feeders, two are flip top boxes and 2 are where you fill a jar fitted to box. I fill the boxes every morning and by mid afternoon they are empty. Great piles of monkey nut shells are piled up beneath the feeders. They seem to de-shell at lot and eat the nuts, but also do a lot of dashing about burying a lot.
Months ago I bought a bag of so called squirrel food, which comprised of corn husks, kebbled wheat, sunflower hearts and a few peanuts. I put this out and the squirrels totally ignored it, tried giving it to the birds and they too ignore it. Today I filled a basket with the mix and put it under one of the trees beneath a squirrel feeder. It is almost 1/2 gone. caught the smallest squirrel just sat in the basket eating.
I have sort of formed a couple of theories a)- they have young and need to keep up their body fat. b:) they are expecting a severe winter therefor building up their body fat and burying lots to store for the winter.
I have a dilemma. Do I keep filling up the feeders - costing me a fortune! Or assume that some natural instinct is pushing them to over eat and store so keep filling the feeders?
No they don't eat sunflower hearts, nor hazel nuts. When Nutty first appeared I dashed out and got a very large bag of Hazel Nuts and put bowls of them under the feeders, where they remained till they rotted, the Jays did not take them either. The conclusion was that as there are no Hazel trees around here, they had never seen them and did not know they contained nuts or what to do with them. As for the sunflower hearts, I bought a large bag of squirrel food, again put in bowls. The squirrel food contained kebbled wheat, sunflower hearts,corn a few monkey nuts and peanuts. The birds got the sunflower hearts, the monkey nuts and peanuts were taken and everything else was left. What surprised me was that the wood mice and bank voles did not take them. On and the same goes for acorns bye the way. I got friends in Glasgow to collect loads for me, which were left. The only trees I have around here are beech, birch, larch, ash, rowan, goat willow, tea-leafed willow, sycamore, and sika fir and a few pines I don't know the name of.
I made quite a few experimental purchases that were left to rot, too. Dried corn on the cob I thought would be a favourite... but no, even the squirrels didn't like it. They didn't seem to know what it was, either.
My jays were not impressed with the hazel nuts until I shelled the nuts for them- then they'd take them. Needless to say, I've got better things to do than sit around shelling bags of (pricey) nuts, so it was back to the peanuts for them!