Mishi & Chuck 6

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Includes a wrap-up of the National Flying Squirrel Festival,
held in Andulusia, Alabama, Feb. 27-29, 2004


                             Southern Flying Shiz Tzus
  My dogs used to be normal ... at least until the flyers arrived. Now, they scarf up nuts off the floor like hoarding squirrels. They eat unshelled peanuts whole, try hard to crack open fallen pecans and run off with dropped chestnuts. Isn't it enough that the furballs hide nuts in my printer, behind any object and inside my clothing ... while I'm wearing it! Now, the puppies are burying pecans under my pillow and think they're hidden when they can nose one under resting legs.

                                             Smelly Flyers
  Last night I saw one of the puppies with something that needed investigating. It turned out to be an empty softgel capsule that had contained flaxseed oil. My mind now flashed back to the flyers nightly romp. I has seen Mishi hanging on the blind eating at something. I assumed it was a recovered nut of some kind ... they are stored all over my room.
  I have a poor sense of smell, but there was the decided odor of garlic in the room that night and especially on the flyers. It dawned on me that Mishi (the wanna be ground squirrel) must have found a garlic oil softgel during her nightly inspection of the bathroom. I had seen Chuck sharing her find on the blind.
  So now it seems that the little ones may have consumed 1000 mg of flaxseed oil and 3 mg of pure garlic oil or maybe shared the flaxseed with a puppy. Any way, all three are alive and well today and in good stead with Andrew Weil.  No kisses for Chuck and Mishi though. LOL

2-27 to 2-29-04
  I accompanied Chuck and Mishi to the Flyer Festival in Alabama. Leah accompanied Faun and rode with us. The ALA Festival was a spin off of the Fleming Island Flyer Festival held last August. Here is the Festival agenda and reports on the presentations:

         National Flying Squirrel Festival
                                   February 27- 29  2004
                                    Andulusia, Alabama

  Held at the Dixon Forestry Summer School Campus of the Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Science, the National Flying Squirrel Association was formed the first night. Gail & Tom Savage hosted the event in which 35 attended: 21 HOFs, three speakers, two speaker assistants and nine non-HOFs and 14 flyers.

                                         The Agenda

      4 PM         Sign in & pick up name tags/shirts    
      4-6 PM      Get Together to show off our babies     
6 PM          Dinner   (no furball babies)
      7- 8 PM     Formation of  The National Flying Squirrel 
                                **Sat. Feb. 28**

             8:00  Breakfast & Late Sign Ins    

             9:30   Welcoming Remarks

             9:45   Rehabilitation of Southern Flying Squirrels
                                     Leah Solliday, HOF
                 Rehabber with Noah's Ark Wildlife Rescue
                       and Rehabilitation in St. Augustine, FL         
            10:30    Studying Flying Squirrels in their Natural
                           Environment: An Ecologist's Bag of Tricks
                                            Thomas Risch, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology
                                 Department of Biological Sciences
                                          Arkansas State University
                                               Jonesboro, Arkansas 

I'm going to try and summarize Tom's presentation from memory.
   Tom has been doing his research for six years and he has captured and tagged thousands of flyers.  The captured flyers were tagged with those computer chips after being examined, weighed, sexed, etc. His study looks at feeding behaviors. He put out feeding stations baited with unshelled pecans. When a flyer entered the station, its chip was scanned so it was known which flyer fed where. The results I remember include:

1. A flyer densities are as high as three per acre.

2. Males tend to roam the range and females stay closer to "home."
3. In scarce food years, more male pups are produced.
4. In abundant food years, more female pups are produced.
5. The youngest birth mother was FOUR months old!
6. Best height for nest/feeding boxes was 15 feet.
            11:15   Food Hoarding and Group Nesting Behavior
                                      in Southern Flying Squirrels                          
                                           Mike Winterrowd, PhD.
                                             Post Doctoral Fellow

Auburn University

  Mike looked at hoarding behavior and recovery of stashed nuts. He wanted to see if flyers recovered nuts randomly, by smell or from memory.

1. He set up a sand box and the flyers buried nuts. They would dig up a certain percentage.
2. He then moved their buried nuts a few centimeters and they recovered fewer.
3. He made the nuts unsmellable and repeated the above with the same results.
4. He added landmarks to the sandbox i.e. bricks and the recovered rate was the highest.

Conclusion was that flyers use memory in recovery process.

           12 noon      Lunch

           1:00      Tour of the Campus and Walk in the Woods  
                         Tom Savage: History of land and Dixon family 
                         Visit the house and artifacts inside

          3:00     "Ultrasound in Southern Flying Squirrels:
                                What is all the chatter about?"
                                         L. Michelle Gilly, HOF
                                            Graduate Student
                                    Dept. of Biological Sciences
                                            Auburn University
                   (Michelle will be bringing her ultrasound equipment)

Leah's summary:
1. Flying squirrels frequently use ultrasound (20 to approx. 27 kHz)
2. Juveniles seem to take advantage of ultrasonic calls more frequently than adults (Suggests it is being used as communication between siblings and mother squirrel)
3. Adult males use ultrasound (suggests that it is NOT just
communication between mother and offspring). Could be for communication between males and females during breeding season? More work needed at this point, but an interesting & new finding.
4. No evidence of ultrasound being used as form of echolocation (to navigate during glides or searching for food). Much more work will be done with this. Not convinced this early in the process that they aren't using echolocation...stay tuned.
5. Spectrograms of calls are in waves ranging from sonic to ultrasonic (15 to 27 kHz), and generally last for 3 to 6 seconds.

More on number 4 - Echolocation: Michelle explained to us that she did not have any obstacles set up within the test room at this early stage. So, the flyers would not necessarily need to use echolocation for navigational purposes in that room. She will be doing further studies on this aspect wherein various obstacles will be introduced. Flyers have panoramic vision as opposed to binocular vision. With panoramic vision, there is very little depth perception, and that, added to the fact that flyers must navigate in the darkness through trees and are known to employ ultrasonic communication, indicates to her the strong possibility of the use of echolocation.  

          4:00  Flyer swap & Silent Auction                  

          5:00  Social Hour with dips, cheese and crackers,
                                   wine and beer (BYOB)  

          6:00 Dinner: Dramatic reading by Sara Dixon ;-)
          8:00 ish: Camp fire with roasting marshmallows   

                        **Sun. Feb. 29**

    8:00     Breakfast (only meal today)
    9:00     Round Table Discussion of Hobby Flyer Breeding and Finding Good Homes for the Pups

  10:00    Presentation of Certificates    

  11:00    Check out and leave

Cost of the weekend (Fri. dinner through Sun. breakfast) for five meals, two snacks and room for one person for two nights: $112.00. Conference registration fee was $2.00 each.

                                     NFSA Awards Andulusia

Tamest... Joan's Chuck (This year Chuck didn't bite anyone. Last festival he got "Most Independent" because he bit the most people) Go figure ;-)
Youngest... Leah's Faun
Oldest ... Sylvia & Bill's Rocky (3 years 4 months)
Smallest ... Leah's Faun
Biggest ... Sara & Jerry's Betty
Shiniest ... Gail & Tom's Mr. Whiskers
Shyest ... Judy & Lance's Spooky Little Hermit, the Brown Recluse (no one is really sure about this as none of us ever saw him, but someone said they thought they'd seen a nose)
Most Colorful ... Joan's Mishi (she was molting;-)
Traveled the Furthest ... Judy & Lance's Spooky (510.9 miles)      

            Chuck Goes to the 8th Annual Azalea Days

  Chuck decided to accept Benjamin's invitation to visit him and big sister Sophie at Uncle David's and Aunt Mary Jane's house in Palatka. Of course Mommy had to drive and she invited Faun's Leah and Faun brought along his baby sister who is soon to own Patrick. There are lots of wild flyers in Benjamin's backyard and a tour was made to look at the nest boxes Uncle David had installed in almost every tree. There is even a feeding station with vitamin water provided fresh daily. WHAT A PLACE TO LIVE!
   There is a resident Florida cooter turtle who has her own pool on the back porch. She was the size of a quarter when she was found in the drive way 12 years ago. She is a BIG girl now! She loves to swim in the family swimming pool too. She was sunning on the porch on this day with big goldfish swimming around her on her sunning rock. Chuck did not care to take a dip with her.
  The HOFs went out to lunch and Uncle David had the nerve to keep poking Benjamin back down his shirt everytime he came up to take a peek at what was happening. Chuck just wanted to sleep as his Mommy just keeps pulling him out to show people and interrupting his nap time.
  After lunch, the HOFs decided to go to the Ravine Gardens State Park for the arts and crafts show and the hayride through the gardens with azaleas in full bloom. By the way, Benjamin was born in this park and rescued by a ranger who got him to Uncle David who raised him to be the fine young man he is.
  The HOFs kept pulling the poor flyers out and taking pictures or showing them off to people ... whether they wanted to see them or now. LOL One lady started following us around looking at us as if we were very suspicious characters. I think it was because Leah kept whipping out a syringe full of Esbilac and feeding the baby. Once she saw we weren't selling anything funny, she stopped following us.
  Chuck got totally embarrassed when Mommy pulled him out, posed him beside an azalea bush and exposed his manly parts to the world. You will notice in Leah's pictures that his ears are back and flat ... he was not happy. But, by in large ... everyone had fun, even the flyers;-)

                                          Decorating Ideas

  Chuck and Mishi slept while the home decorating team (me) from "While You Sleep" went to work and redid the exterior of their bed room. The bedroom, a parakeet nest box, is mounted on the outside of the cage. I had found a lovely piece of flat wood while walking the puppies in the park. It had a knot hole the size of the nest box opening. Initially, I scrapped the wood with a wire brush to remove debris and hosed it down well to remove whatever was left. It was air dried for a couple of days. A few cracks were closed with non toxic wood putty with a good matching color. I sawed it down to size, drilled a hole for the entrance dowel and slide it into place ... PERFECT FIT!   Now Chuck will leave it alone, but Mishi may chew it up tonight. LOL
    I've gotten tired of straightening pictures on the wall, picking up knocked over small objects and otherwise housekeeping after the flyers have been out for an evening romp. my friend Maggie was visiting from Ohio and told me about museum putty that holds pictures and objects in place. It doesn't hurt walls, paint or surfaces and is removable and nontoxic.
  DAP makes a form ... Fun Tak ... that is available at Lowe's. I bought two packs of this reusable adhesive and tacked down everything in my bedroom. Mishi hates it ... she delights in knocking over everything she can and especially putting every picture frame at an odd angle. She's so mad she has taken up chewing on the frames while I yell "NO" and chase her off walls.
I may have chew up frames, but they sure hang on the walls straight.