We think of Spring as a wonderful time of rejuvenation and regrowth, but until leaves and flowers actually start appearing on plants and grass begins to green up and grow, plant eaters are still faced with barely anything to eat. Having eaten through their stored food and consumed anything that was half way edible over a long winter, animals could be faced with a starvation diet just as lakes are thawing, temperatures are warming, and days are getting longer.
But here’s the solution a little Red Squirrel found today — eating the buds of the buckeye tree outside my porch window. I saw him nipping off buds and tearing into them, peeling back the outer layer and dining on the juicy interior of the little embryonic leaves within. And he saw me watching him…
And then I watched as he nipped off another bud and devoured it as well.
Young buds probably have higher nitrogen and mineral content per unit weight than more mature leaves would, nutrition meant of course for the development of new leaves. So this is a pretty smart choice for a Red Squirrel that might be down to its last acorn in the larder.