A thin, young fox squirrel has been foraging along the edge of my feeding area this past week. Ever vigilant of the adult squirrels that chase him from the handouts, this juvenile is probably the lone survivor of a late season litter, his siblings having succumbed to disease or fallen prey to hawks, owls, fox or coyotes.
Our mild autumn weather has certainly favored his survival to date but his thin frame portends trouble when the cold and snow arrive. No doubt, he has also been evicted from the nest of his parents, perhaps seeking shelter in dense clumps of junipers during our chilly Colorado nights.
While there is plenty of natural food on the farm, his chance of surviving the winter seems slim. Competing with numerous adult squirrels and other wild residents for sustenance, he must also escape the attention of the many predators that visit our property. In contrast to the happy outcomes so common on nature programming, his short life will likely end before spring; indeed, nature does not pity the young, the infirm or the ill-prepared.