Red Squirrel Cache

I am out west for my holiday break now, but this post was written and scheduled on Monday.

By now most of the animals I enjoyed observing in September and October are dead, dormant, or gone south. When I do run into signs that a creature has been out and about, it’s always worth stopping to take a look.

Running vertically from the bottom of this photo to the woodpile at the top is a well-trod squirrel highway, crossed at right-angles by human boot prints. When I looked more closely I found the remains of a meal of pine seeds on top of one of the logs.

I kept walking and spent a while exploring the edge of one of the lakes. On my way back, however, I was lost in thought when a sudden movement nearby startled me out of my reverie – the squirrels had returned to the scene of the crime. The American Red Squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, is a much more frenetic and noisy animal than its fatter, lazier gray cousin. One of them immediately started scolding me from the safety of a tree, but when I sat on the ground and waited it eventually decided to continue about its business, albeit still shooting me suspicious looks. (I’m being very anthropomorphic here, but watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.)

In the video you can see the squirrel disappear under a pile of decaying logs and emerge with a cone. It did this several times while I watched, so I assume I stumbled upon it retrieving food from a cache. I was tempted to lift up one of the logs and see what all was in there, but I decided I didn’t want to disturb it, in case doing so would adversely affect the squirrel’s survival somehow – the animals that do remain active through the winter here need every scrap of calorie they can get.

Tomorrow is the winter solstice. Halfway out of the dark, my friends.

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8 thoughts on “Red Squirrel Cache”

  1. Oh how timely…I was thinking of writing to ask you about a squirrel I saw. It was on the drive back from Jekyll–I swear I saw a black squirrel on the side of the highway somewhere between Brunswick and Savannah. Is such a thing likely? It sure moved like a squirrel, but the only colony of black squirrels I’m familiar with in this country is around Kent State.

    1. There are black squirrels where I live in Wisconsin as well. They’re just a color morph of gray squirrels, so I suppose you could have a few black squirrels anywhere you have gray squirrels, though they’re certainly more common some places than others.

  2. Hi there. Great post regards American Red Squirrels, and I know all about their chatter out in the bush! I live in Toronto, Canada, and earlier this year, my wife, Jean, and I were in Ireland where we came upon the rarely seen Red Squirrel. To us, they actually look somewhat like our American Red squirrels, but boy, do they have long ears! We were shocked to learn that U.K. and Irish Red squirrels are contracting the pox virus from Grey squirrels, and dying. We feel very lucky to have seen two Red squirrels in Ireland, and have posted some of our pictures and videos for anyone interested at: http://frametoframe.ca/photo-essay-red-grey-squirrels-canada-ireland

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