How Cute Do I Look Today?
Photograph - Photograph
This little squirrel is fat and furry. I like how she holds her little arms together as if they are in a muffler. She looks like she is one of those Buddha Belly Statues. I think she is pregnant here. I love these little Douglas Squirrels. I call them "Bud. Here is some information on these cute little critters. Here is some information on these cute little critters.
Squirrels are among the most familiar wild mammals that we encounter, both in our backyards and out in the wilderness. Unlike many mammals, squirrels are diurnal and their energetic antics make them highly conspicuous.
The Pacific Northwest is home to numerous ground squirrels and tree squirrels, including a couple non-native species.
The Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) also called a Chickaree is the species you are most likely to see in the forests of western Washington and Oregon. These bold little animals are very vocal and will often bark, growl, or whistle at those they perceive as intruders, including well-intentioned hikers and naturalists. Douglas Squirrels are 11-14 in length (28-36 cm). They have brown fur on their backs and orange or orange-white fur on their bellies. A black line may run along the squirrel sides, dividing the dorsal and ventral fur. The ears are tipped with black tufts and their is a ring of light-colored fur around the eye. Douglas Squirrels live in coniferous forests from British Columbia south to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. You can see a range map here. Old tree cavities excavated by woodpeckers are used as nests by Douglas Squirrels in the winter (they do not hibernate). The squirrels make dreys out of abandoned crow nests and use these in the warmer months. The primary food source for this squirrel is nuts from conifer cones, including those from fir, pine, spruce, and hemlock. Piles of Douglas Fir cone scales at the base of a tree are evidence of Douglas Squirrel feeding. Green cones are clipped from trees by Douglas Squirrels in the autumn. The squirrels then stash the cones in caches called middens. Hollow spaces under logs or rocks are common places for middens. A midden serves as a sort of pantry in winter, when food is otherwise scarce for squirrels. Hundreds of cones might be piled in a midden and these may accessed for several years. Douglas Squirrels also east mushrooms, berries, and seeds. Predators Owls, Northern Goshawks, American Martens, Bobcats, foxes, Coyotes, and domestic cats all eat Douglas Squirrels.Tree squirrels feed mostly on plant material, including seeds, nuts, acorns, tree buds, berries, leaves, and twigs. However, they are opportunists and also eat fungi, insects, and occasionally birds’ eggs and nestlings.
Squirrels store food and recover it as needed. Hollow trees, stumps, and abandoned animal burrows are used as storage sites; flowerpots, exhaust pipes, and abandoned cars are also used. Scientists credit flying squirrels with helping forest health by spreading species of fungi that help trees grow. Tree squirrels construct nursery nests in hollow trees, abandoned woodpecker cavities, and similar hollows. Where these are unavailable, they will build spherical or cup-shaped nests in trees, attics, and nest boxes.
An alternate nest may be constructed in a tree for summer use. In areas with prolonged periods of cold weather, red squirrels may construct a winter nest underground, often in or near a food storage site. In urban areas, squirrels mostly nest in buildings and other structures.
Nests contain leaves, twigs, shredded bark, mosses, insulation, and other soft material. Depending on the species, tree squirrels mate from early winter to late spring. One litter of two to four young is produced from March to June.
All except flying and western gray squirrels may produce second litters in
At about 30 days of age, the young are fully furred and make short trips out of the nest. At about 60 days of age, they begin eating solid foods and venture to the ground. At about three months of age, juvenile squirrels are on their own, sometimes remaining close to the nest until their parent’s next breeding period. The second litter may stay with the mother in the nest through the winter until well after the winter courtship season. In trees, squirrels are relatively safe, except for an occasional owl or goshawk. On the ground, large hawks and owls, domestic cats and dogs, coyotes, and bobcats catch squirrels. Vehicles, disease, and starvation also kill squirrels.
Most squirrels die during their first year; if they survive that, they live three to five years. Tree squirrels have many fascinating behaviors, and—except for nocturnal flying squirrels—they are commonly seen. Tree squirrels don’t hibernate, but will remain in their nests in cold or stormy weather, venturing out to find food they stored nearby. Squirrels are most active at dawn and dusk, but sharp eyes aided by a pair of binoculars can spot them moving among the treetops any hour of the day. On hot days, squirrels are less active and remain motionless on branches to enjoy whatever breeze is available. Home ranges for tree squirrels are ½ acre to 10 acres. For the Eastern gray and Eastern fox squirrels living in city parks and suburban yards, home ranges average half an acre. Flying squirrels can go at least three miles in four hours, soaring from tree to tree. Males are particularly prone to traveling, visiting different females in the spring. As proficient as they are in the air, flying squirrels are awkward on the ground. The large flaps of skin that make gliding possible obstruct walking.
In the fall, when Douglas squirrels and red squirrels are actively harvesting and storing food for winter, look for “cuttings” under oak, maple, walnut, hazelnut, and coniferous trees. Cuttings are made because seeds and nuts grow in clusters at the end of fragile, easily broken twigs, and squirrels have found that the easiest way to harvest them is to nip these twigs off the parent branch. The squirrels then climb to the ground, harvest the meal, or carry it off to a storage site. A large pile of cone scales under a tree, called a “midden,” generally indicates Douglas or red squirrels. In winter, holes in the snow may indicate where squirrels retrieved stored food. Winter is the time to spot the large, spherical nests built in deciduous trees. Nests are located 15 to 50 feet high, and situated close to the trunk or a main branch. Noisy sputtering's and scolding's from the tree canopy call attention to the native Douglas squirrel, also known as the chickaree, or the similar size native red squirrel.
July 31st, 2014
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