Monday, January 2, 2017

Territorial Squirrels

I've noticed that I have two squirrels who regularly come to eat the seeds that the birds drop under the tube feeder.  One squirrel is a bit more red in colour, and has a dark stripe towards the end of its tail. The other one is slightly larger and more brown in colour.  The other day, I took a great shot of them rolling around on the snow in a tussle, and then I realized the memory stick wasn't in the camera. Drat! I have not seen them in a tussle since then. One has to be ready at just the right moment for such pictures.  Today, there was a stand-off on the brush pile.

There was a lot of paw-wringing and general unrest.

This went on for about 20 minutes.  In case you're not familiar with them, squirrels make a noise that is sort of like a bird chirp, but repetitive, and almost electronic sounding at times. These two were mouthing off at each other for a long time, and I kept expecting a fight to ensue, but it didn't happen.

Eventually, there was a chase down the brush pile and a descent into the tunnels.  There are many tunnels under the snow, some made by the squirrels (I think) and others by the shrews and voles.  The squirrels did some chasing along the tunnels for a while.

Eventually, the brownish-coloured one ran off - you can see it up in the left top corner.

This left the other one to have its fill of the discarded seeds.  First, he (or she) looked around for a while, in case any other challengers were present.  These pictures have a blue cast to them - the camera has trouble with the snow - it affects the colour of my pictures.

Then, the usual feasting began!  You can see the darker tail tip on this squirrel, and the more reddish-coloured fur on its back.  This picture has less of the blue cast - it was taken with a stronger zoom setting.

 Searching for seeds.

Squirrels are dainty eaters, carefully removing the sunflower seed from its shell, and eating it bit-by-bit.  This one tends to stay close to the openings of the snow tunnels.  Smart squirrel!

I just love watching them - they really are very entertaining little animals.

I'm happy to have them here in my yard, and I'm glad to have them sharing seeds with the birds.

I'm editing this post to mention that these are American Red Squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), which are the primary species we have here in New Brunswick.  They are also called "pine squirrels" in some areas, and also chickarees, but that is a regional term that isn't used here.  We just call them "red squirrels."  They are related to, but different from, the Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii), which is present on the west coast and is also called a pine squirrel.  It looks very similar but doesn't have the white belly that the eastern species has.  The larger grey and black squirrels are a different genus (Sciurus) and species.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Cute squirrel! Quite different from our Western Gray squirrels; I wonder what kind it is?