Summer 2005 ~ Darling as she is, she does scrambles all through the trees chirping and barking up a storm
for seemingly no reason. She is the queen of the trees. I've named her Ornery.
|Over the days, she's become less afraid of my presence. Her speciality trick is jumping from the tree trunk
to the top of the feeder hook.
|Then she shimmies down the pole and hops onto the feeder. She loves her sunflower seeds!
And, this fellow is Ornery's
offspring. Sadly, Ornery met an
untimely demise late in the
But, she left behind a legacy; as
she raised her young in the church
roof next to the birding area.
And, with little parental instruction
and by his own prowess, he's got
the feeder trick alllll figured out.
|I'm trying to befriend him by luring him with peanuts. And, he loves 'em!
|Staying true to his family heritage, Chip, (yes...I've named him Chip), happily resides in the family church hole.
Description The smallest tree
squirrel in its range. Rust-red to grayish
red above, brightest on sides; white or
grayish white below. In winter, black line
separates reddish back from whitish
Tail similar to back color, but outlined
with broad black band edged with white.
In summer, coat is duller. In winter, has
prominent ear tufts.
Similar Species Douglas’ Squirrel
usually duller red, has grayish to
Diet Acorns, beechnuts, and other
nuts; seeds of hickory, tulip, sycamore,
maple, and elm; berries; birds’ eggs
and young birds; and fungi, including
even the deadly (to humans) amanita
mushrooms, which are often cached in
Red Squirrels also harvest maple sugar
by biting into the trees’ xylem, letting the
sap ooze out, and returning when the
water in the sap (which when fresh is
only 2 percent sugar) has evaporated
and the sugar content is about 55
percent. Red maples apparently suffice
for this where sugar maples are absent.
Breeding The Red Squirrel’s nest,
often constructed of shredded bark from
a grapevine, is made in a hollow or
fallen tree, a hole in the ground, a
hummock, or a tree crotch (as are the
leaf nests of gray squirrels).
The female is in heat for only one day in
late winter, at which time she will allow
males on her territory. Animated nuptial
chases precede mating.
The Red Squirrel’s vocalizations include
a slightly descending, drawn-out, rather
non-musical trill that can be heard for
some distance, and a chatter of various
notes and chucks.
A litter of 3–7 young born March–April;
sometimes a second litter August–
September. Gestation 35 days.
Newborns weigh about 1/4 oz .
Habitat Often abundant in any kind of
forest: natural coniferous forests, pine
plantations, mixed, or hardwood forests;
often around buildings.
Range Throughout much of Alaska
and Canada; in U.S., south through
Rocky Mountain states; in East, south to
Iowa, n Illinois, n Indiana, n Ohio, n
Virginia, and through Alleghenies.
Generally not migratory, The Red
Squirrel is a prodigious and
opportunistic feeder, moving through its
home range and trying many different
items; in this way it keeps abreast of
where and when various foods become
Discussion The Red Squirrel is
active all year, although it may remain
inactive for a few days in inclement
weather. In conifer forests, this squirrel
feeds heavily on pine seeds, leaving
piles of cone remnants everywhere. In
the fall, it cuts green pinecones and
buries them in damp earth.
Like other North American tree
squirrels, this species stores food in
one or more large caches (sometimes
up to a bushel’s worth in each) in the
ground, in a hollow tree, or at the base
of a tree.
|Sadly, the winter of 2005 was the last I saw of the Red Squirrels. But, then in early June 2009, I heard the familiar
barking and chirping and was happily surprised to see this female in the driveway tree.
|Six weeks later, she's now familiarized herself with the area and has the feeders and water bowl all scoped out and
has made herself at home. And, like her predecessors, she's very vocal and bossy and frequently puts the run to
the larger Fox Squirrels. I've named her Ruby.
|A very warm July afternoon finds Ruby lounging over a tree limb, trying to stay cool.