“Grandfather” Squirrel probably died. I don’t know for sure but this is another year in a row in which he has not returned to the trees he enjoyed for so many years.
The fox squirrel got his name from his predicatable annual appearances: seeing his black and gray colors progressively become grayer and whiter, seeing the squirrels that accompanied him, clearly younger, who seemed his progeny, even his grandchildren. Of course, the squirrel might just as well be “Grandmother.”
Unlike other fox squirrels in yellow or the many smaller gray squirrels (not to be confused with the color, just the name), Grandfather was notable for his loud and intemperate chucking sounds when any creature neared his trees or the seeds in “his” bird feeder. He was the first squirrel (among successors) to foil the “squirrel-proof” feeders. And the first to not only appear regularly for food, but to even come up to the house and sit on the window sill looking in and demanding seeds when they were forgotten or overlooked by a distracted human occupant of the house. Despite his irrascible temper, however, he was the first to eat seeds from a proffered hand.
“Grandfather” had never been driven from his territory by rivals, but one year he did move quietly from his usual haunt to a clump of trees some yards away when another large squirrel (perhaps his progeny) muscled in. That was the first sign that he was growing old. After that season, Grandfather never reappeared.
Given a squirrel’s short lifespan and predictable foraging behavior, it is likely that Grandfather Squirrel will never come back. He will be missed.