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Posts Tagged ‘Tamiasciurus hudsonicus’

littlered

Little Red appreciates the new Blue Jay feeder too. Every afternoon, once the main crush of Blue Jays has moved on, this little red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) arrives to enjoy his share of the treats. He can reach the feeder very conveniently by dropping from a nearby branch and scrambles back home the same way. In the photo above, he (she?) is keeping a wary eye on me as I stand at my kitchen window.

We don’t have the larger grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) that were more than abundant at our former Toronto-area home here, and I don’t miss them one bit. Little Red is a cute little guy though, and it is nice to see him. These smaller squirrels don’t seem to gather together in large numbers in the manner of their outsized kin. Red squirrels prefer coniferous forests, with their abundant supply of cones, but are adaptable and widespread.

conecache

It’s common to hear a red squirrel expressing his annoyance at an intruder with angry chattering. They’re feisty individuals, and will chase away much larger interlopers, but I’ve noticed Little Red avoids the Blue Jay hoards. While grey squirrels stick to nuts and seeds, red squirrels have a more varied diet, and enjoy a range of food items that includes insects, bird eggs and even young rabbits and frogs, and fruits and mushrooms. Probably other small creatures don’t find Little Red as cute as I do! In the fall, red squirrels cache food to help them make it through the winter. In conifer forests, you may find piles of cones assembled by a red squirrel. I found this cache, in the photo above, in a forest with many Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris). Red squirrels don’t hibernate, but during severe weather, they may go into a state of torpor for an extended period.

stuffing

During breeding season, red squirrels build large, grassy nests formed into round balls in the branches of trees. In winter, however, a more secure home is need, and a cavity in a tree offers a snug, dry spot to spend the night. When moving firewood we had purchased recently, I came across a split log with stuffing hanging out. I carefully removed the stuffing and found a cavity of about 3 inches in depth behind the opening. It probably served as the winter home of a red squirrel. The stuffing was soft and clean and grassy. It looked like a comfortable winter hideout. Hopefully, the squirrel had moved on to a summer nest before the tree was cut down for firewood.

cavity

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The birds aren’t the only ones who enjoy a meal at the birdfeeder. Little Red is a regular visitor too. Red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) don’t hibernate. In severe winter weather, they have the good sense to stay snug and warm in their nests, but on mild or sunny days, red squirrels are industriously gathering seeds. To help them make it through the winter, red squirrels store large caches of food over the summer, but this little guy seems happy to take advantage of a free lunch.

He (or she) sticks close to the feeder and I rarely spot a red squirrel out in the open. Rather, the squirrel takes advantage of the foot of snow on the ground to stay out of sight. There is a trail of tunnels that lead to the open area and walkway around the bird feeder and the squirrel can disappear into the snow in the blink of an eye.

Little Red watches me carefully with his bright eyes, seated at the entrance to his tunnel

If I take a step closer, all that can be seen is an empty doorway.

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