Juvenile squirrels are the best because they have yet to learn about raiding bird-feeders.
I was entertained to watch a couple of Eastern Gray Squirrel youngsters as they scooted about in the litter-fall foraging for nuts, seeds, herbaceous plants, or fungi. Neither seemed overly concerned about the lady with the camera lurking behind tree trunks and stumps. It was interesting to watch these little guys dig through the soggy leaves and detritus as they scratched for a meal.
A favorite appears to be Douglas Fir cones –
Get ready… Get set… Dig!!!
Enjoy the fruits of the labor…
In the wild, Eastern Gray Squirrels could be scampering about in our Nature Habitat park for anywhere between 12 and 23 years. The only predators that could case premature death are Red-tailed Hawks or a once-in-awhile coyote. The habitat here is pretty stable… which is both fortunate and unfortunate. Fortunate because habitat degradation is one of the leading causes, world-wide, for loss of biodiversity. Unfortunate because the Eastern Gray Squirrel is an introduced species in the Willamette Valley ecoregion. Their success has been at the expense of losing populations of native Western Gray Squirrels.
But, Eastern Gray Squirrels do have a role in this riparian forest ecosystem where they live. They eat a lot of seeds. Their seed-caching activities may help disperse tree seeds.
That is… while they are young, and have not yet learned how to raid bird-feeders!
Science Behind this Post:
Eastern grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis: University of Michigan, “Critter Catalog,” http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Sciurus_carolinensis/