American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

7 March

Not the really common Gray Squirrel (the one that has taken over in Europe) but a native of the northern boreal forest which has stayed on the continent in which it evolved. Here we are at the southernmost extent of its range but we usually have a family of them around the garden – this fellow appeared outside the window as we were eating lunch today so need to go out in the cold in search of a new species to list … some creatures are really obliging. Cute as anything they zip around at high speed – they have just two speeds motionless and flat out. Quite territorially aggressive too – in our early years in this house there was one that decided he “owned” a giant butternut tree we had in the garden and would spend more energy chasing grays out of “his” tree than actually eating the nuts. Mostly though they eat the seeds of conifers. For some years they got into the roof of the house via a small hole (now found and blocked) and raised their young safely inside. After they had been evicted we found stacks of pine cones (technically a midden) in the loft that they had dragged in as snacks.