Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gray Squirrel, Gray Squirrel

My two great nieces need some information on squirrels, so here are some photos and related information. The squirrels that populate the Colvin Run Habitat in very large numbers are Eastern Gray Squirrels. These squirrels are active all year and are even seen digging for nuts and seeds through the snow.
In the Habitat, the squirrels eat nuts – acorns and black walnuts. The squirrels can be seen digging in the ground to hide or retrieve these nuts, which are typically buried about ¼ inch below the surface. The squirrels retrieve the nuts by smell, not by memory. In the Habitat, the squirrels always seem to bury their seeds in the front lawn. In addition to the acorns and black walnuts, the squirrels really love to eat the berries on the dogwood trees (see second photo, note red dogwood berries) that are available in September and October. A quick digression, in the third photo, this female squirrel is using her tail to balance herself while sitting up-right eating dogwood berries. How can you tell this is a female? If you look very carefully you can see that this squirrel is still nursing young (the second set of the season as this photo was taken the first week of September).
Of course, the main food source of the squirrels in the Habitat is the sunflower seeds which fall from the bird feeders (last photo). The squirrels would gladly eat the suet at the bird feeders if they were not prevented by the squirrel guards (the black cylinders on the feeder poles). The squirrels are near constant feeders on the ground from sunrise to sunset, even on the hottest of summer days.

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