May 5, 2010

Furry Friends: The Squirrel Club

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As the days grow warmer, Ithaca’s most lively inhabitants are out at play, frolicking amongst beautiful spring flora. No, I am not talking about the students — or professors. The most playful creature on East Hill is none other than the Ithaca squirrel.

Maybe you haven’t noticed them out and about — but the Cornell Squirrel Club certainly has. Just ask founder and president, Ben Nachman ’12, who coordinates with the club officers to provide ample squirrel watching events as well as other squirrel centered activities. “Recently we had a really fun movie night where we watched Rocky and Bullwinkle, Over the Hedge and Ice Age. We provided mixed nuts as a snack of course,” Nachman said.

Nachman’s strong interest in squirrels began in high school when he and his brother observed the fascinating existence of squirrels. “I actually wrote my essay for Cornell about how peaceful squirrels are,” Nachman said, “and how, in our busy lives, we lose track of the simple things when our lives get moving so quickly. Observing squirrels reminds me of that.” His enthusiasm for squirrels was contagious, and after connecting with fellow students, the Cornell Squirrel Club became an informal group last spring and an official campus club this fall.

“We are all about enjoying the presence of squirrels and talking about it,” Nachman said. He noted that there is much diversity and variation in squirrel type and behavior. One of the club’s vice presidents, Yoon Ki Kim ’12, mentioned that sometimes the squirrels even interact with club members. “One time we spotted some squirrels making sounds like birds do. It was one of the first times I had witnessed this — they were talking to each other I suppose,” Kim said. The location of the incident was around the A.D. White House, a favorite observation spot of the club members — and apparently the squirrels as well.

While watching from afar is sufficiently satisfying for many, anyone who wants to approach a squirrel for any reason is lucky that Cornell squirrels provide that opportunity. “You can get pretty close — the campus squirrels are really awesome in that regard,” Kim explained.

In a display of their appreciation for the squirrels, and in an attempt to raise awareness of the interesting creatures, the club sells a popular shirt. Members proudly don the slogan, “Squirrels are GORGES.”

So whether you decide to join the Cornell Squirrel Club after reading this or not, at least remember to take time to recognize the beauty and intrigue of Cornell’s little creatures. While spotting squirrels may be, to the untrained eye, like a giant game of Where’s Waldo without the red hat, just when you least expect it, a squirrel will cross your path. Just because you are hurrying to the last day of class, doesn’t mean you can’t take time to appreciate the little, furry Cornell inhabitants this spring.  RLD

Original Author: Alice Cope