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On an early morning in Cottonwood, Arizona, I decided to take a short walk outside of the town. As I walked along a steep slope, I was startled by a  high pitch sound which cleaved the quiet morning air. It only took a matter of moments for me to discover the source of this strange sound. It was simply a ground squirrel mother. She was letting out a warning shriek. Warning her family about the approaching danger—me.

From the “front porch” of their tunnel, I could count a total of 5 family members. This ground squirrel family was also enjoying the morning, taking sunbaths in the first rays of sunlight.

I was lost in thought as I admired these active and family oriented animals.

We –the “city people”- often over look these small but loud squirrels. And we rarely make the effort to learn about them because we assume that they are a nuisance. They make loud disruptive noises, they destroy our beautiful flower gardens, steal our peaches, figs, apples and other fruits. We also know they can be hosts to smaller pests or diseases, fleas, scabies, and so on.

But most of us don’t pay any attention to the good they do. They make incredibly complex homes. They are inventive and excellent engineers because they build long tunnels with high quality ventilation in each small section. They also look out for one another. They are all about family life where the older family members always supervise the younger generations and babies. They post

watch-squirrels (like the mother I ran into) to supervise their youngsters.; and if their babies try to move too far away from the tunnel openings hole, the adults or older siblings immediately push them back to a safety distance from the tunnel entrance.

They are the creatures, who warn other animals, birds, when danger is present, which can come from the sky (i.e., Eagles or Hawks) or the ground (i.e., Coyotes or Wildcats) and are incredibly important to other “prey” animals being safe!

After that morning walk, I can’t help but wonder about our future. . .  what if “we the people” learned more about the wilderness and tried to live in symbiosis with other creatures, plants and nature around us! We have a lot to learn and many incredible animals to learn from.

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