Okay, as much as they love to overtake our feeders, you must agree that squirrels are entertaining. They spend time and energy trying to figure out the best ways to get to the seed. It’s funny to watch them staring at my squirrel proof feeders pondering their next move. I must say I have relented and purchased a ground feeder for these characters. My backyard guests include the Eastern Gray, along with his morph black squirrels, and the Red Squirrel.
The Eastern Gray Squirrel is the most common squirrel we see in Eastern North America. The gray and black are found in Ontario, Quebec, southern New Brunswick, and the northern US. You won’t find any black squirrels in the southern states. They collect nuts from walnut, oak and hickory trees and bury them in holes which they dig and carefully pat down. Will they remember where they have buried these treasures… sometimes but not often. Fortunately, they have a good sense of smell and will often find another cache of nuts buried by other squirrels. Many of the nuts they bury will sprout into saplings the following spring. Gray squirrels are not as territorial as Red Squirrels which is why we see so many of them in our yards and gardens. Some are more dominant than others and will chase others away from feeders, but for the most part they are tolerant of each other. Did you know that gray squirrels can run at a speed of 25 mph? Their foot prints left in the snow will resemble two exclamation marks!!
Red Squirrels are approximately 13 inches long, much smaller than the Gray who measure 18 inches. They are fast movers as well being able to run up to 14 mph. Red squirrels are also much more territorial and vocal than the Gray. They communicate with other squirrels using trills and various calls. Being very territorial, you won’t see red squirrels sharing their ground space or feeders with gray squirrels. The only time you will see red squirrels together is if there is a family being raised near by. Both red and gray squirrels use their tails for balance, protection against cold, heat and rain, and displaying different moods.
So, what can we do to show some love to these critters. As I mentioned, I have added a ground feeder to my back yard. We offer a scoop of seed every morning which serves as a free for all depending on who gets there first, the birds or squirrels. Squngees are also entertaining. This is a bungee cord that accommodates two cobs of dried corn for them to bounce on while they eat. Squirrel swings, tractors and picnic tables are also available for their dining pleasure. Squirrel houses can also be purchased if you would like to watch them raise a family.
Love them or not, squirrels are here to stay so we may as well enjoy watching their anti-gravity manouevres… I bet you’ll even smile.
Author – Jane Paradis