Captured on phone or film, most of our region’s white squirrels tend to look stoic — slightly spooked at worst. They’re usually bunched up casually on someone’s lawn or in a park, or else appear vaguely anxious, as though competing with the picture taker for a choice acorn. But rarely are they caught in the midst of hijinks, as of Pisgah Forest was able to do, winning the 14th annual White Squirrel Photo Contest administered by the Transylvania Community Arts Council.
Philippon embraces a vigorous backyard life with a large open feeder for mammals and smaller feeders for birds, plus a bird bath. In a nearby window, by a maple tree that supports the feeders, he sets up his tripod and camera and “enjoys all the action that occurs there,” he tells Bold Life. “At times, the open feeder is full of gray squirrels and the white squirrels will get pushed out to find a different feeding station … they’ve mastered getting to the hanging feeder for a bite to eat. This was one of those occasions.”
He poised his camera as the white squirrel went for it. “All was going well as it balanced itself on the bird bath, making the long stretch,” he narrates. “My camera was clicking away at about six frames per second [and] captured the moment when the squirrel lost its footing. It was now at the mercy of gravity and it quickly lost the battle, [but] it saved itself from falling all the way to the ground. Recovering and swinging, the squirrel was finally able to maintain itself.”
It even managed to “fish some sunflower seeds from the feeder” before going about its day, providing a lesson in midair resourcefulness.