Squirrels and Helicopters

We planted a red maple in our back yard about twelve years ago
and every spring it leafs out as expected.
This year, though, it’s covered with those “helicopter” seed pods
and the squirrels are in gastronomic heaven.

This guy was in full view this morning when I came out to the kitchen:

© Tracy Abell 2012

I watched him cram pods in his mouth as if he was on an assembly line.
Chomp, chomp, chomp. Next! Chomp, chomp, chomp. Next!

Another squirrel was higher in the tree, eating with the same focus and determination.

When I go out on the deck the squirrels scold me, probably because they’re used to me chasing them from the suet feeder. I keep telling them it’s cool if they want to eat all the seed pods, except now I’m wondering how this works when the tree is covered with seeds and no leaves. Will it leaf out when the seeds are gone?

Please tell me the squirrels aren’t eating this tree to death.