Visit from a Red Squirrel

American Red Squirrel

On May 14, 2017 I received two interesting visitors to my yard. The first was a Nashville Warbler flitting around in the tree outside my computer room – I only got a brief glimpse of the yellow bird with the gray head and white eye-ring before it disappeared, but it was enough to add it to my yard list as bird species no. 66. The second visitor wasn’t a bird, but a mammal; when I saw the small red squirrel poking around the feeder area, I immediately ran for my camera as this was only the second red squirrel I’ve seen in my yard. Although I’m not too far from Stony Swamp where numerous red squirrels make their home, I am just deep enough inside the Emerald Meadows subdivision with its maze of roads and large, open lawns to make travelling a hazard, especially given how open the subdivision is – there are no tree-lined streets and no canopy of interlacing branches for the squirrels to travel along safely above the ground.

American Red Squirrel

American Red Squirrels are remarkably adaptable. They are able to feed on a tremendous variety of foods, which allows them to inhabit a variety of habitats, from their preferred coniferous forests to deciduous woods and even suburban and near-urban areas throughout their range. Given this adaptability it surprises me that they don’t show up in my yard more often. This squirrel quickly discovered the bird feeder and spent some time vacuuming up the fallen seeds beneath it.

It didn’t take long for it to discover there was more food inside the bird feeder hanging from a hook attached to the fence; when I checked later that afternoon it was on top of the feeder.

I only saw the red squirrel in my yard once more a day or two later. A day after that I noticed a road-killed red squirrel about a block and a half away while on the bus on Grassy Plains. As I haven’t seen any red squirrels in my yard since, I can only presume that my visitor had been hit by a car. It was quite distressing to see, which is one of the reasons I don’t name the birds and critters that visit my yard, or try to distinguish them; most urban squirrels and chipmunks have such short lives that it’s better to not become attached them, as I would mourn each and every single one that I lose.

Hopefully the Nashville Warbler that stopped my yard briefly the same day is doing much better, and reached its breeding grounds successfully.


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