Many of you out there are either worrying or directly suffering as a result of the ongoing meltdown of the global economy (which, the Powers That Be have finally concluded, is a recession that started last December).  I’m sorry to report that we humans are not the only ones facing straitened circumstances. According to a story a few days ago in the Washington Post, the Eastern Seaboard is experiencing an unprecedented shortage of acorns, which means a whole lot of squirrels are going hungry as they begin their winter season:

[Naturalists have received] calls started coming in about crazy squirrels. Starving, skinny squirrels eating garbage, inhaling bird feed, greedily demolishing pumpkins. Squirrels boldly scampering into the road. And a lot more calls about squirrel roadkill.

But Simmons really got spooked when he was teaching a class on identifying oak and hickory trees late last month. For 2 1/2 miles, Simmons and other naturalists hiked through Northern Virginia oak and hickory forests. They sifted through leaves on the ground, dug in the dirt and peered into the tree canopies. Nothing.

I know a lot of people out there get frustrated by squirrels raiding their bird feeders, pumpkins, and garbage, but this time they’re really starving. Get into the spirit of the season and help the little guys out by tossing them an extra handful of birdseed or peanuts if you happen to think of it. Remember that they’re not only cute but also an important component of the larger food chain; when you feed a squirrel, you also feed a hawk, owl, or fox.