The winter cold is creeping up and it’s time to start this year’s bird feed. And it immediately makes me think of squirrels …
The record was set on Christmas Eve 2017 when nine squirrels feasted on sunflower seeds. Only eight can be seen in the picture, but the ninth sat in a birch next door and shouted his frustration that the restaurant was full at the moment!
This summer, as I sat in the woods below our cabin, I saw a squirrel digging things out of hiding in the ground that it then ate. It was around to several different places. As I researched the matter, I found shells for sunflower seeds. Squirrels are not only greedy bird food eaters; they also hide food for future needs. Expensive friends, but okay, it’s worth it. They are really entertaining to study.
Our squirrel is the red one, Sciurus vulgaris, also called Eurasian red squirrel. They are members of the squirrel family, Sciuridae, commonly just referred to as “squirrels”. They include over a hundred arboreal species native to all continents except Antarctica and Oceania.
When I was in Geneva, I got to see another type of squirrel that I had never seen before. The Siberian chipmunk, Tamias sibiricus, a species that originally came as pets to parts of Europe in the sixties, but which has subsequently formed viable tribes in forests and parks. (The species is listed as an invasive species of the EU) Squirrels are cute little creatures but like many other species, they pose problems when they settle in areas where they have never been. (The gray squirrel is another example from the UK)