Yesterday I chanced upon a red squirrel, chattering angrily in a tree in it’s typical red squirrel way, infuriated by my intrusion upon it’s property. There aren’t a whole lot of reds around here – the forests are mostly deciduous, & they prefer pine & spruce forests to oaks, elms, & maples. But once in a while I see one, hiding in the forests by the river – they are shyer than their gray cousins. And while there is nothing new about seeing a gray squirrel searching for food under bird feeders, recently I have seen a couple of oddly colored ones. There is a resident albino squirrel, snowy white with bright pink eyes. I see her (or him) frequently enough, but a few days ago there was a black one hanging around, checking out the territory. So while it seems at times that the variety of squirrels near in my yard will never differ, the truth is that there are probably enough squirrel colors out there to create an entire rainbow.
Yesterday I saw a red squirrel running up & down a tree. I got pretty close to it, & it didn’t run away. Instead it looked at me & started shaking & chattering so loudly I started looking around to see if there were actually 2 squirrels – I couldn’t believe 1 tiny squirrel could make that much noise! Red squirrels are much tinier than gray squirrels, & less common. They mostly live in northern pine forests, although some live as far south as Iowa. They build their nests in the fork of a large tree, or if it’s available an empty tree cavity. Sometimes they will even occupy abandoned bird nests. Red squirrels do not hibernate, but they are less common in winter since they stay in their nests to conserve body heat.