An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Check Your Bird Feeder Before Heading To Bed

1-30-17-flying-squirrel-img_0397If you feed birds, you might want to glance at your feeders on your way to bed at night. With luck, you may encounter a Northern or Southern Flying Squirrel, or a swinging feeder indicating the recent departure of one. These nocturnal rodents remain active all year and often take advantage of the ample supply of food that bird feeders provide. Flying squirrels often refurbish abandoned tree cavity nests of birds and squirrels for winter use. During very cold weather they stay in these nests for prolonged periods, often huddling with several other flying squirrels. The relative warmth of this winter means the chances of seeing a “flying” night visitor at your feeder are greatly increased.

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13 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    Years ago, I saw one flying from our feeder. Wish we had more of those,

    January 30, 2017 at 8:25 am

  2. David Govatski

    Flying squirrels do visit feeders and I had a close call with one in early April of 2016. I went out one evening to bring the feeders in and just as I was about to reach the feeder I saw a flying squirrel on the feeder. That would have been a nasty surprise had I grabbed the squirrel. Since then I have gone out with a headlamp to look for the nocturnal flying squirrel and have seen them a few more times. A few days ago we had a bobcat stalking five ruffed grouse feeding on cracked corn under the feeders.

    January 30, 2017 at 8:27 am

  3. In the Berkshires these funny creatures visit my feeder all summer and are remarkably tame. I’ve even opened the slider and captured photos of them only a few feet away! With the flood lights on they put on quite a show winging from tree to tree!

    January 30, 2017 at 9:00 am

  4. Carol C Wagner

    If I saw this squirrel in MY yard, I would think, “Northern Red Squirrel,” because the pelage is very red, and because red squirrels (unlike gray squirrels) are active at night. However, Northern red squirrels seem to be characterized by some black hairs in the tail, which are not present in this photo. I envy you with flying squirrels — they are such fun to watch as they glide down from immense heights….

    January 30, 2017 at 9:44 am

    • Note that the tail is FLAT, Carol. Quite different from a red squirrel’s!

      January 30, 2017 at 10:35 am

  5. Laurie Stokes

    A few years back when MA had an ice storm I met a flying squirrel family up close and personal. They moved into my house! They are beautiful creatures.

    January 30, 2017 at 9:48 am

  6. marianneblake

    Many time at night my light sensitive spotlights come on. I’ve been looking at the ground and rarely see anything that could cause this. I’m going to start looking up at the feeders!! Never thought of that. But I do know I have flying squirrels on my property–I caught one in a have-a-hart trap this summer!!
    Marianne

    January 30, 2017 at 10:45 am

  7. Jane Marshall

    We had put up 3 birdhouses in trees on our back hill. It was May and we decided to clean them. On a ladder against on of the trees my husband was startled as a Flying Squirrel popped out of the birdhouse. James came back to the house to watch her. She sat on a tree limb awhile, then went back to the bird house and picked up a baby squirrel in her mouth, climbed down the tree and dashed up the hill to an old dead tree trunk that had large woodpecker holes. Baby was put into the hole. She repeated the process 3 more times. What an experience. We didn’t see her or the babies again, but occasionally we’d see a flying squirrel at the bird feeder.

    January 30, 2017 at 11:39 am

    • What a great story and wonderful memory! Thanks!

      January 31, 2017 at 12:35 am

  8. My first eye-to-eye encounter happened one summer night when several of us were talking near the second story window of our kitchen. Suddenly there were chirping noises just outside and turning around I spotted an upside down flying squirrel on our sunflower seed tube feeder not 12″ from the window. Hadn’t thought to look for them this winter, thanks.

    January 30, 2017 at 1:00 pm

  9. We’ve had flying squirrels at the feeder after dark for several years. I’ve seen them twice so far this winter.

    January 30, 2017 at 4:04 pm

  10. Craig Barry

    Mary,

    I was introduced to your blog by my sister-in-law and I am now a huge fan. Your 2017 calendar hangs in my laundry room! I have learned so much about the natural world that my husband and I love and explore as hikers in the Greens. Now even in winter I find myself looking around as we snowshoe in the woods, hoping to see hints of the nature story you tell so well.

    This photo of a flying squirrel poised on a bird feeder is just amazing!

    By the way, down here in Western Mass a record number of barred owls have been rescued from highways with slight injuries this winter. Your item on their limited food source was right on point. Happily, our barred owl seems to be doing fine as we hear him (or her) in the woods at about the same time every afternoon.

    Sincerely,

    Amy Barry Shelburne Falls, Ma.

    January 31, 2017 at 9:39 am

  11. I was thrilled last year when I got pictures of them on my critter cam!

    January 31, 2017 at 9:55 am

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