Monday, March 13, 2006

Douglas Squirrel - Oregon, 1997


This is my favourite pin-up: a Douglas Squirrel, Tamiasciurus douglasii, aka Pine Squirrel. I've never had anything or anyone pose so beautifully or willingly for me before or since. I took this photo on slide film at Depoe Bay, Oregon in the summer of 1997.

In "The Mountains of California," John Muir describes the Douglas Squirrel:
From the nose to the root of the tail he measures about eight inches; and his tail, which he so effectively uses in interpreting his feelings, is about six inches in length. He wears dark bluish-gray over the back and half-way down the sides, bright buff on the belly, with a stripe of dark gray, nearly black, separating the upper and under colors; this dividing stripe, however, is not very sharply defined. He has long black whiskers, which gives him a rather fierce look when observed closely, strong claws, sharp as fish-hooks, and the brightest of bright eyes, full of telling speculation.
A very active animal, the Douglas Squirrel acts as a guard to other forest creatures by sounding a harsh churring warning when predators, including humans, enter the area. I don't remember if this one churred a warning when we showed up. Since this photo was taken in a parking area at a scenic viewpoint, I suspect it was more likely waiting for a handout.

The Douglas Squirrel eats acorns, nuts, mushrooms, fruits, berries, green vegetation and new shoots of conifers. It also eats seeds from cones by peeling off the scale and removing the seed. The discarded scales pile up to form a midden. Sometimes generations of squirrels use these same eating areas and a midden may be over a meter high and several meters in diameter. Its summer nest is made of mosses and lichens, twigs and bark. In the winter, it nests in tree holes.

The Douglas Squirrel is closely related to the Red Squirrel. They are similar in appearance. However, in summer the Red Squirrel has a white belly, whereas the Douglas Squirrel's belly is somewhat orange.

10 comments:

Rexroth's Daughter said...

We have Douglas Squirrel in our yard quite often. There's one female in particular that just loves hanging around our bird-feeder. We had to put up a barrier so she wouldn't climb the post and eat all the bird food. They are the cutest little squirrels, though, and we love watching them run around the yard.

That's a great photo.

Pam in Tucson said...

RD - I was just enchanted by this little squirrel. Prettier and more personable than any I'd seen before. How lovely for you to have them as frequent visitors.

Endment said...

He is so cute! We have the little Eastern Red Squirrel as well as the gray squirrels.

The photo is delightful

Pam in Tucson said...

endment - I remember plenty of grey squirrels, including the timid little youngster that bit my finger when it was grabbing for a peanut in Lafayette Square (DC). I was 10. One doctor wanted to give me rabies shots, but luckily I ended up with just a tetanus shot. I was more concerned for the frightened little squirrel than for myself. I don't remember the Red Squirrels back east, although they seem very cute from the photos on the Internet.

T. Beth said...

Very cute and perfectly posed! Sharing your older photos is a great idea, especially really darling ones like this. :-)

Pam in Tucson said...

t.beth - Before this week, it was just a cute squirrel. When I decided to post, I needed to identify it. Took some doing - there are many photos on the Internet that are misidentified. Blogging is pushing me to learn much more about the world in areas I never touched before. It's great!

Sonia said...

What an amazing photo, Pam. This little squirrel is very cute! How lovely you have this beautiful creature near your house!

Pam in Tucson said...

hi sonia - This photo was taken in Oregon when we were on holiday in the northwest. Unfortunately, this little squirrel doesn't live near here. There are some red squirrels in mountains not too far from us, but I've never seen them.

Jean said...

In our garden, we have many walnut trees, hazel trees. ... and three squirrels...

Dans notre jardin ,nous avons de nombreux noyers , noisetiers . ...et trois ├ęcureuils ...

Pam in Tucson said...

jean - trois ├ęcureuils? Three squirrels or three types of squirrel? They must love your nut trees.