Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Top five: Squirrel-y iReports through the years

Editor's Note: iReport, CNN's citizen journalism initiative, is celebrating its fifth birthday this month. To mark the occasion, we're taking a look at some of iReport's shining moments in a series of top five posts on a variety of topics.

 

 

There's a first time for everything. First car, first electric lightbulb, first president, first time riding a bike. So it goes that there was a first iReport to be used on TV: none other than the above squirrel pancake. From these beastly beginnings emerged all the stories and opinions and breaking news that we've come to know and love.

 

We kicked things off late in the summer of 2006 in the middle of a sweltering heat wave, and posted an assignment asking how people were keeping cool. In the early days of CNN iReport, we were learning about building a community and experimenting to find out what kinds of stories readers wanted to share. Inspiration struck when we saw that James Christie of Kokomo, Indiana, had photographed a squirrel sprawled out on a tree branch in an effort to distribute his furry little body over as much surface area as possible. This adorable scene showed us how a single image could illustrate a story. Many, many iReports would follow it, and the rest is history.

 

In honor of that precipitous moment, we're taking a look at the top five squirrel iReports we've received over the years. We at Team iReport have always had a soft spot in our hearts for the nutty little creatures (and for the film "High Fidelity," which prominently features several top-five lists in its plot). Enjoy.

 

 

Cat and squirrel are friends: The lion and the lamb, or more precisely the cat and squirrel, can totally get along. This iReport from Dorwin Berrier of Sun City Center, Florida, proves it. While vacationing with family in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, he captured photos of a cat that played mother to a lost squirrel. Readers were enthralled at these images, and it turned out to be one of our most adorable and beloved iReports ever.

 

 

Bottle-fed squirrel: Bryan Wells of Old Town, Maine, captured video of his wife Pamela caring for squirrels that a friend found living inside their wall. So precious!

 

 

Squirrel O'Lantern: iReporter Jim Mathews of Arlington, Virginia, shot a photo of a squirrel chilling and eating in a pumpkin in 2008. Not a bad spot to hide.

 

 

Easter egg thief: Readers got a kick out of the squirrel who stole the eggs at an easter egg hunt in Fort Collins, Colorado, submitted by Kathy Stoltz.

 

 

Industrious and joyful squirrels: These creatures have many emotions, and Patricia Fitzgerald of Chesterfield, Missouri, showed us both their industrious, leaf-gathering side and their joyful side in 2009.

 

What do you think about this list? Got any thoughts or other favorites? Did you submit a squirrel photo of your own? (Does this post make you want to sing about squirrels?) Share your comments below, or visit CNN iReport to share your story

72 Comments
August 3, 2011
Click to view SW2008's profile

I wish I had the video for the time I observed a squirrel confront and attack a miniature Yorkshire terrier. The Squirrel jumped on the back and rode the little fellow for a couple of feet until the horrified owner scared the squirrel away. It took ten minutes for the laughter pains to die down afterwards. Poor Yorkie. Bold squirrel.

August 3, 2011
Click to view ovipconsult's profile

I used to like squirrels and bamboo until I moved into my new house.

August 3, 2011
Click to view JohnBorg's profile

Americans have a thing for squirrels.

August 3, 2011
Click to view Cogitor's profile

At the time of this posting, the headline on the main page said, "Ever wonder what the first iReport was?".

 

No. 

 

iReports were OK when it was just for cutesy, human interest stuff...like squirrels.  But there are way too many totally unqualified people who take themselves for journalists now without knowing anything about what journalism is, and CNN has given them a forum.  It cheapens CNN, and cheapens the craft.  Worse, they've now given an excuse to local outlets to air any piece of crap someone puts together for a Facebook page and call it journalism.

August 3, 2011
Click to view MDKennedy's profile

What happened to the cat and her baby squirrels???

August 3, 2011
Click to view conoclast's profile

Squirrels are cute --- but they're filthy little beasts!

Totally incontinent, if you entice one to take a peanut out of your hand be prepared to get pee'd on!  ...but they ARE cute!  I've had two generations of them come visit my balcony --- to beg for peanuts and pee all over everything of course.

August 3, 2011
Click to view nsaidi's profile

Enjoying the conversation taking place here. Thanks for reading, all.

 

@Cogitor -- Totally understand what you're saying, but things don't work quite that way around here. We're all about collaborative storytelling and working together with our community. If someone sends something to us via CNN iReport, we talk to the person and we work to verify the submission. So the end product is a collaborative effort. Journalists have traditionally relied heavily on communities and institutions to gather information, and this is a new way of doing that. Anyway, thanks for your comment!

August 3, 2011
Click to view TheBonster's profile

Squirrels are "God's little farmers" and as such bless us with reforestation (and corn planted in our flower beds).

August 3, 2011
Click to view Sherbien's profile

Cute

August 3, 2011
Click to view HabTheory's profile

I'll take a squirrel report anytime over the stupidity in Wash DC. Congress makes these little squirrels look like Einstein - and at least when a squireel pees on you, you know it. Can't say the same for Congress when they do it. Impeach Congress! Elect a squirrel!

August 3, 2011
Click to view alisonv's profile

SQUIRREL!!!!  Sorry, couldn't resist.

--Dug

August 3, 2011
Click to view komjj's profile

Squirrels seem like adorable little creatures but they are also some of the most destructive.  I used to love them and would feed them until I became a homeowner and they started destroying my property .... they're wreckless ... they chew through screens, wood and scale houses to try and get in.  They are no longer "cute little creatures" ... I've had to go to battle with these little minions!

August 3, 2011
Click to view hesaidwhat2's profile

Cogitor,

    If anyone reading an iReport is expecting a journalistic gem then they do not understand the concept at all. There certainly are some very well written reports and there are some real clunkers but most fall somewhere in between. The point is that here is a bit of localized news(rangin from serious to silly to cute) that would have otherwise never been seen by anyone else or it would have been buried on page 6 of a local newspaper.

August 3, 2011
Click to view tbaggerssuck's profile

Probably the cutest of all the animals when they are young and fun to watch when older. But they grow up to be a headache. Those tree rats are almost impossible to keep out of the bird feeders. But the biggest problem I have with squirrels are the idiots who trepass and destroy our property to hunt them. It seems as soon as a hunter grabs a gun they become illiterate and color blind. No matter how many signs I put up or how much purple paint I use they still cut the fences to blast these rodents (and anything else that moves in the forest).

August 3, 2011
Click to view ChazMan's profile

Cogitor is right. Anyone with a smart phone thinks they're a network news reporter and often don't know what they are talking about. I can understand CNN wanting to be interactive with the reader but the stories aren't cleaned up enough. It's bad enough I've seen copy errors in CNN stories, what makes them think I'd give any credence to an iReport?

August 3, 2011
Click to view SpenserA's profile

I once spent an hilarious half -hour watching a squirrel annoy the heck out of a neighborhood cat.  The squirrel was high on a telephone pole, the cat on the ground.  The squirrel would run half-way around the pole and stop; the cat would make a semi-circle on the ground.  The squirrel would run up the pole; the cat would back up to get a better look.  The squirrel would run down the pole; the cat would come closer.  Round and round and up and down they went, first the squirrel then the cat.  And I swear the whole time I could hear the squirrel laughing.

August 3, 2011
Click to view GS02111's profile

Rats with fluffy tails...

August 3, 2011
Click to view aquak's profile

They are cute, but don't be tempted to take one as a pet. If you find a baby, don't try to feed it; call a wildlife rehabilitator who will know how to help orphaned wildlife survive and that they make terrible pets because they turn feral as adults and get nasty. They bite and otherwise make poor pets.

August 3, 2011
Click to view Shagy's profile

This cat is lookes like my Tom cat but i love all amimals

very nice to see animals just beein good friends

August 3, 2011
Click to view GRS62's profile

After reading the mostly critical comments (and posting my own) of the anniversary of iReport, this piece proves what everyone was complaining about. How are photo's of squirrels journalism? If CNN wants to keep their version of Youtube going, then rename it iTakevideosofridiculouscrapsoicangetonCNN. Just don't try to pass it off as journalism.

August 3, 2011
Click to view Colorista's profile

@conoclast and @komjj - you both whine about squirrels but you both made a major error in engaging with and feeding the squirrels on your property.  They are wild animals - as such, the "problems" you both encountered were of your own doing.  Squirrels aren't stupid. If you behave like a food market, they will treat you like one.   As for peeing on you - that is the way a squirrel marks its territory. You were a food source he wanted to claim as his own and keep others away. As a wildlife behavior, it is actually pretty smart.   Leave the squirrels alone and they will find natural food sources.

August 3, 2011
Click to view Snow56240's profile

yea we raised one through this last winter big mistake on our part. As spring got closer he got more nasty and mean to the point we could not open the large cage door to feed him. Husband went to feed him his ear corn by sticking hand in cage to drop the corn ear. Well he latched onto Husbands hand by the time he was able to get his and out he had a 4 inch gash that needed many stiches. And that little nasty thing went that day lesson well learned don't try to care for a wild animal.

August 3, 2011
Click to view stupedasso's profile

come on folks, it's an I-report,"CNN's citizen journalism initiative". It's not Walter Cronkite. Take it for what it is. And besides, if someone wants to play reporter, great. They aren't forcing you to read it.

Personally, this light-hearted stuff is what I-report should be about, and I love it. My life is full enough stress and serious stuff. LONG LIVE THE SQUIRREL REPORTS!!!!!

August 3, 2011
Click to view donkyboy2231's profile

NO... I don't ever wonder what the first iReport is because I don't now and never did give a F%#&$ about iReports.  If I wanted to get my news from idiots with cell phone cameras, I'd rely on blogs for my news.  Do your job CNN.  Do some investigative journalism.  If there's nothing interesting to report--then DON'T REPORT IT.  The 24 hour news cycle YOU created with Fox is the primary reason things are so screwed up in this country.  We the people hold YOU accountable.

August 3, 2011
Click to view mbrowne's profile

SQUIRRELS ARE NOTHING BUT A RAT WITH A PRETTY TAIL..........THEY ARE A PROBLEM NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE....CUTE IS NOT ALWAYS CUDDLY....BEWARE THEY ARE NASTY, MEAN, AND NOT WANTED IN MOST PLACES, THEY SMELL HORRIBLE ALSO WHEN THEY CRAP ON WALLS...THE HECK WITH PETA MINDED PEOPLE....THEY ARE GOOD EATING THOUGH....HEH....HEH...

August 3, 2011
Click to view ggssking's profile

I can remember when I was around 10 years old my most excellent and smart not to mention wise Grandpa going back to Iowa to visit about 30 years ago and coming back with a bunch of squirrel.

 

The squirrel  was a cross between rabbit and chicken but also a flavor all its own, and Juicy. Thanks be to my late But Beloved Grandpa!

 

August 3, 2011
Click to view ShopForLife's profile

A few months ago, I was going to throw some trash into the dumpster.  I opened the lid and startled a squirrel who jumped out in a panic, seemed like it was flying through the air and was an inch or two from my face.  I can still picture the squirrel's stomach very clearly.  I thought "OMG, I hope it doesn't grab on to my face, but somehow he went over my head, though there was nothing to land on behind me!!  I was just amazed.

August 3, 2011
Click to view tonyk726's profile

I'm glad to see that Congress is teaching us something.  Now it appears EVERYONE is capable of making a silly and unwinnable argument out of anything at all.  It's human interest stories and squirrels people! Go get a cold beer and calm down!

August 3, 2011
Click to view ralk's profile

Great photos...just don't be fooled by them...squirrels do bite and you could be sick by that. Other than that the shots were cute.

August 3, 2011
Click to view CindyPaws's profile

Love the squirrel report & photos!  We have tons around our home here in TN, but we live in the country so they don't bother the house as there is plenty of food & shelter available.  The only trouble I ever had with squirrels was when we lived in the city in Florida & they seemed to love to gnaw the insulation off the phone line.  Every couple of years, I would have to call the phone company to make a repair.  And I wish I had taken a video of the squirrels who every day for years would sit on the electric wires out back & chatter at my Westie when he was let out.  It drove him crazy & since he couldn't reach them, he would bark, then bite & pull on the plants & bushes, I guess hoping it would shake them off the wires!  Silly dog!

August 3, 2011
Click to view moonster's profile

Squirrels rock!

August 3, 2011
Click to view Miraflores's profile

We have squirrels in our area, and enjoy their nonsense, but they have ruined two planters with flowers this summer, first ever, but it's been 104 degrees and more for most of our summer, and they like to cool off in the mulch and chew on the plastic hangers while they lay there.  Our little maltese jumps at them sometimes and they just run.  I feed them every morning, so I take the bad with the good.

August 3, 2011
Click to view abbydelabbey's profile

When we lived in Missouri I use to feed the squirrels and watch them play.  My husband (old farm boy that he once was) reminded me squirrels are rodents -- but even today he loves their antics!  We can watch them all day -- chasing each other, etc.

August 3, 2011
Click to view NJHEATHEN's profile

Mmmmmmm squirrels taste good.  Squirrel...the Other  other white meat

August 3, 2011
Click to view blessedinlv's profile

What about the photo of the couple where the squirrel popped up and looked into the camera?

August 3, 2011
Click to view TKtree's profile

Squirrels bite...in more ways than one.  They are useless, disease carrying, intrusive pests and must be eradicated whenever and wherever possible.  They are worth 5 points if you hit them with your car, 2 points if you get them with a pellet gun, and only 1 point if you use explosives.

 

August 3, 2011
Click to view SSBlurpe's profile

Cute pictures. They don't bother my house because I live in a warm climate, they prefer the trees. TBaggrssuck, wow, you are a nice person. If someone came on my property with a gun and fired it, they would be leaving in a body bag.

August 3, 2011
Click to view WildBill1111's profile

GET ENOUGH OF THEM AND MAKE A PIE!

August 3, 2011
Click to view maddog1022's profile

All this talk about squirrels takes me back to some of my fondest youthful memories. Getting up at 5 am to go squirrel hunting with my Granddaddy. For an 8 year old boy it was pure magic. Stealthily stalking the illusive gray and red (fox) squirrels in the back woods of Kentucky. Looking for signs that they were near (little pieces of hickory nut shells piled up under a tree) Bagging 5 or 6 of the tasy little buggers to take home, skin, gut and clean for dear old grandmommy to fry up in bacon grease. My kids are horrified when told these stories. To them, squirrels are the cute little guys hanging around our backyard in the northwest begging for handouts. Back in Kentucky those suckers were twice as big and very good eating.

August 3, 2011
Click to view inyourhead00's profile

I like this iReport. These squirrels are so adorable, especially the joyous one on the bottom! We have so many in our neighborhood. I've seen them do some pretty cute and funny things. Now I wish I recorded them or took pics!

August 3, 2011
Click to view fredishere's profile

I had a local squirrel that would come whenever I called it making a certain sound and I gave it peanuts when he showed up. I kept the peanuts in a 5-gallon bucket that had a lid and placed it inside my screened in porch. One day I came home to find a whole eaten thru my screen, the lid of the bucket eaten off and about 300 peanuts gone. All eaten in one day. They have some appetite

August 3, 2011
Click to view JonnyBones's profile

I love shooting squirrels with my pellet gun

August 3, 2011

Let my people go!!!

August 3, 2011
Click to view alisonv's profile

For all you critics... iReport has never been exclusively about journalism nor has it ever been limited to silly fluff.  I have enjoyed and learned from many iReports in the past. Others have made me laugh. There are several outstanding photographers, photojournalists and videographers on iReport. Some are rank amateurs. iReport supplements the news and has some pretty fun projects.  It isn't meant to take the place of professional journalism.  I appreciated seeing reports from the Iran uprising--even if they were taken by a shaky cell phone.  There were places professionals couldn't go. So if you don't care for iReport, no one is forcing you to participate or even comment.  But to dismiss it out of hand because iReporters don't do journalism for a living is very small-minded and limiting.

August 3, 2011
Click to view tbaggerssuck's profile

Never try to make a sqirrel (or any wild animal) a pet. They are cute when they are young, but as they get older their attitudes change (just like teenagers). By the time mating season rolls around you may a a full-fledged monster on your hands. It takes generations to domesticate a species. Either leave them be or contact a rescue center for aid.

August 3, 2011
Click to view LiberalNewz2's profile

Squirrels are evil!

August 3, 2011
Click to view Cogitor's profile

@insaidi - Glad you guys are doing a better job than the locals where I live.  It's a shame when it's not done right.  I've even seen a few cases where they're tip-toeing on the edge of libel.  Not working over your raw content from the public before airing it is really, really stupid, and a good way to get yourself in some hot water.

 

@hesaidwhat2 - I'm not looking for journalistic gems in community-supplied content, but I am cringing when non-journalists with no knowledge of the rules of the game turn out stuff that's either barely worthy of the Enquirer or Star, or is just plain borderline libelous, and call it journalism.  I'm not saying any CNN iReport ever went that far, but the concept and practice, especially among less sophisticated local operations, has opened the door.  That's all.

 

Hey, I like squirrels as much as the next guy - except when they're trying to get into my attic.

August 3, 2011
Click to view holycow1234's profile

SQUIRRELS ARE NOT EVIL. ONLY PEOPLE ARE EVIL!!

ALL ANIMALS ARE WONDERFUL. THEY WERE HERE BEFORE

WE HUMANS WERE ON THE PLANET.

August 3, 2011
Click to view macjones's profile

Squirrels are neither cute or dirty or any of the above. They are our neighbors and should be treated with respect, and even wonderment, as they are truly fascinating creatures. I'm a big fan of squirrels : )

August 3, 2011
Click to view leevaley's profile

I always thought it was mouse and squirrel

 

or mousse?

August 3, 2011
Click to view shasha369's profile

In the big city Parks it is day time if the squirrels are playing in the trash cans and night time if the rats are.

August 3, 2011
Click to view Ardipethecus's profile

Right wing squirrels they seem to be...

August 3, 2011
Click to view Walnutties's profile

I like squirrels

August 3, 2011
Click to view kindbud's profile

i always wanted a squirrel mostly because they stand upright when they eat

August 3, 2011
Click to view Doomed4ever's profile

I've killed over a hundred of those pesky little varments this past year in my yard.  They're the most discructive rodent next to roof rats and carry all kinds of diseases. They'll chew threw electricl wiring, destroy an attic in no time if they get in and can make a person with allergies very sick. 

 

BUT:   I will however avoid them when I'm driving.  I do love squirrels but only when they're not in my yard.

 

August 3, 2011
Click to view libproud's profile

My squirrel anecdote: Around here the squirrels use the lower power lines for high wire access between trees and across the roads.  They've gotten very proficient at walking the wires. 

 

I was walking my dog one morning and there was a very fat pigeon roosting on the wire that a squirrel was scurrying on.   Pigeons are lazy birds and reluctant to move.  In a flurry of feathers and warbly outrage, bird finally yielded to squirrel. 

 

@Fredishere   I tried feeding the squirrels one winter with peanuts because news reports said that the nut crop had been low that summer.   They do indeed eat prodigiously.   It became too expensive to keep it up.

August 3, 2011
Click to view tambot1's profile

I have a twe legged squirrel that was paralized from a fall when she was 3 weeks old. She is now 3 years old as of Monday and her name is Nutter Butter Adams..check her out on Facebook. She is also on Youtube. She has captured my heart and shows just how strong these precious little creatures are. You will be amazed when you see her videos of her playing.

August 3, 2011
Click to view nsaidi's profile

Really enjoying all these squirrel comments! Thanks, everybody.

August 3, 2011
Click to view McNuttington's profile

Heh, my people can be quite industrious when a food supply is made available. If you don't like having them dig into yer roof, try setting up some form of decoy supply somewhere on the far edge of your property instead, and over time move it further from your home in stages, until you just don't see em anymore.

 

As far as you humans eating my comrades, well, it happens, someone doesn't like the idea? its nature, ya'll humans eat cows and don't think twice bout it, but get squicked out by the idea of eating a chickenleg with legs, yeah? You humans are wierd.

 

Aaanyway. On behalf of my species, thanks for the nuts!

August 3, 2011
Click to view SandraLEVin's profile

Adorable photos and cute squirrel anecdotes. Why so many negative comments? It's a simple forum for any/everyone to join. Lighten up!

August 3, 2011
Click to view beetraveler's profile

So cute, and such a neat idea for a report compilation!! Thanks for putting a big smile on my face this afternoon! I especially like the one with the squirrel being mothered by the cat. It reminds me of a book I saw at the store last week, about some fairly unbelievable animal pair-ups (like a monkey and a tiger who befriended one another at the zoo).

August 3, 2011
Click to view atglover0818's profile

They may be cute, but they'll tear up your home pretty fast.  I like squirrels, mostly in a stew or the like.

August 3, 2011
Click to view zaphod2000's profile

Why is it that animals are more interesting than people?

August 3, 2011
Click to view awesome3in1's profile

Yes, i have a squirrel i named "Junior" who comes to the house almost everyday for a peanut butter sandwhich... geese often come for corn ...one day i didn't get the sandwich to Junior in time so she (i didn't realize her gender when i originally named her) and so she went after the corn..which a Canada Goose was trying to eat..Junior ran with all her force and body-slammed the goose... she has done this several times since and the geese are afraid of her.... otherwise she is very sweet...

August 3, 2011
Click to view princessakka's profile

Cute!

August 3, 2011
Click to view princessakka's profile

PS - For another cute squirrel photo, do a Google search for "Tom Dorsey squirrel." Click the first story entitled, "Salina Journal News: View Tom Dorsey's flat-out good picture." Courtesy of my local newspaper. :) It has always made me smile!

August 3, 2011
Click to view Stosh2010's profile

Great squirrels stories. I live in Costa Rica and the Variegated tri-color tree squirrels are gorgeous. One lives with me.

August 3, 2011
Click to view scritley's profile

I'm beginning to think CNN stands for "Commercials - not news..."

 

It's to the point where I set the tivo to record CNN in the morning so I can skip the incessant ad's....

August 3, 2011
Click to view hilesc's profile

They wouldn't have the ireport service available to the general public if they didn't want stories from everybody to include those that are not in the business.  There are no requirements that the stories contain only fluff.  From my point of view, it is designed to get a different point of view from the common citizen.  An unpolished story also reveals more to us about the nation than the story itself, which I find to be interesting.  I find the content of the story more important than the craftsmanship of the story.  It will also give people a little taste of what it's like to be a reporter.  Perhaps they will change their majors and actually become professional reporters and we will have a better field of professionals in the future.  iReporters, I would imagine would not have the same agenda as some of your more seasoned professionals and aren't constrained a network and their requirements.  But then again I do not work in the craft of journalism and it's yet another opinion of a person from the outside.If you want fluff; I have a cat that likes to bite me when he doesn't get enough attention, so I should wrap this up.  Ow.   

August 3, 2011
Click to view M1948's profile

Who cares about any I-report?

August 4, 2011
Click to view sunethra's profile

I love all the squirrel photos, especially the one in the pumpkin, great shots

August 4, 2011
Click to view KeithReavis's profile

I have always liked squirrels. I feed several of them every day. They are also one of my favorite subjects to photograph.

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