Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ancestral home.

Not long after I started this blog, I wrote about the squirrels of Lulu Island.  The native (cuter) one, the Douglas' Squirrel, is gone from most of its former range and now (usually) is only encountered in the remnants of bog forest (Richmond Nature Park, Northeastern Bog Forest and a few other formerly  boggy bits still dominated by shore pine).  The squirrel most people know is the larger (nowhere near as cute), pesky Eastern Grey Squirrel, an introduced species.  That's the one you expect to see in your backyard, raiding your bird feeder, being a lout.

Thus it was a surprise today when I spied skittering along the fence this little one:
It's  a hatch year Douglas' Squirrel, in the depths of dreadful suburbia, about a Kilometre (and a couple of major roads) away from the nearest meaningful stand of shore pines, much farther than that from prime Dougie habitat.  Our neighbourhood, like much of this city, was for millenia prime Dougie habitat.
How did you get here, little one? Welcome home. Stay safe.  Live long and prosper. Good luck.  Etc.


RPS77 said...

I actually find eastern grey squirrels pretty cute. Then again, they are native here and aren't pushing any other squirrels out.

Eastern grey squirrels are a problem in parts of Europe, too, driving native squirrels out of parts of their range. I've read that one of the advantages that allows them to do this is that they are much better able to adapt to human habitation than most other squirrels.

Hugh said...

RPS, I agree that they are cute to a degree. They were the squirrels of my childhood in Ontario and I liked them fine. (But Dougies are cuter.)

The hypothesis of eastern greys being able to adapt to human habitation makes sense, especially where the humans maintain/don't eradicate oak trees. I think of them as oak tree squirrels, and people/park planners like oak trees.

randomtruth said...

Surprisingly Hugh, the eastern grays seem to be even more adaptable than that. Around here in CA, the native western grays are the species tied to oaks, but the easterns have broken free, and are happily foraging fruits, such as avocados, oranges and figs.

But like Orson Wells, we've overlooked a 3rd squirrel - the fox squirrel. And I gotta say - to my eye - your little cutie looks more fox than Doug's. Do you not have fox squirrels there?

Hugh said...

Ken, That's interesting about the eastern greys in CA. I didn't know they were also introduced there. I'm certain the little guy in the post is a Dougie. I'm familiar with fox squirrels, which were the common neighborhood squirrel when I lived in the East Bay. A fox squirrel of the same age would be almost twice the size of this one. We don't have fox squirrels here on the coast (that I'm aware of) although they have been introduced into the southern interior of the province.

randomtruth said...

Yes, the eastern grays own the suburbs here now. The westerns seems to be holding out in the parks for the most part, though. We have some fox squirrels moving in here and there, too.

I can't tell size from the pic so much, and looking closer, the ears seem wrong for fox, but gosh your Doug's are orange! Makes them look like our fox. The doug's I see on the Yuba river just have a bit of yellow piping. I.e., racing stripes.

Hugh said...

I see what you mean. The Yuba squirrels are a lot whiter underneath. Ours are usually distinctly orange.