Jenner Hanni

Tualatin Refuge Squirrel

Oregon - February 2015

I rarely take photos at the wildlife refuge anymore, but this guy was an exception. Most of the animals I encounter are hidden in the treeline at dusk, after the light’s gone, and I never do more than freeze in place and hope they won’t notice or care about me.

The most common animals I’ve seen are hawks, bullfrogs, herons, nutria, shore birds, geese, robins, other fairly common local birds, and the bald eagle pair. I saw a black and white cat once, which I’m sure terrifies the local refuge folks. I saw river otters in the Tualatin; I’ve seen chipmunks and squirrels more rarely than I would expect.

My favorite so far is the owl perched on a branch at dusk; it slowly turned its head,scanning the small animals in low water, and then all I heard was the sound of the branch swaying as it departed, flapping soundlessly away.

Tonight, though, I came around the corner and ran into this brazen squirrel sitting at head height not five feet from my face. We both froze, but he gave in first and went back to carefully chewing while keeping one eye on me. In the end, I left first, and he stopped chewing to watch me go.

And the requisite sunset.