Animals and people are creatures of habit. Sometimes their routines coincide and reinforce habitual behaviors, for example, the grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) in my neighborhood of Minneapolis. They regularly check the tree-stump I use as a platform feeder, stopping by periodically to see what’s available. This is habit #1. Usually what’s available is the bird seed that I put out.
It just so happens that squirrels are among my favorite creatures, so I always notice them checking the stump when I happen by my windows. Since I’m delighted to observe them, I find myself at the windows each morning before work to see if they’re around. This is habit #2. While I do so, I sip my morning coffee and eat some toast—habits #3 and 4.
Depending on how well I’ve kept up with the bird seed, there are mornings when there’s nothing for them. This doesn’t stop the squirrels from checking, but then I’m standing at the window with my toast and coffee, watching a disappointed squirrel. In an effort to support both of our habits, I’ve developed a new habit—putting something on the stump first thing in the morning. This is habit #5.
I admit that retrieving, and then pouring or scooping seed is slightly too much effort for me while waking up and getting ready for work. Instead, I run out there with something immediately at hand, like the dregs of my toast. It could also be a left-over snack from the previous evening that’s still sitting on the counter, such as a few popcorn kernels left in a bowl, some cake crumbs, or an almost-empty bag of something crunchy. There is nearly always something out on the counter, so it’s clear that eating snacks while watching TV or using the computer in the evening is a habit—habit #6.
Finally, since I know of this routine, one more habit has developed, which is setting aside the last small portion of my evening snack for the squirrels. It happens automatically, and is habit #7.
To complete the photo challenge, I’ve included some photos of what I see while engaged in my morning habits. The captions reflect my own one-word anthropomorphic interpretations of each squirrel’s mien.
Urban Minneapolis Squirrel Gallery:
Part of wordpress.com’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit