A True Mystery Photo
A discovery recently brought to my attention has stumped this naturalist. What you are looking at is a collection of Flying Squirrel tails lying within a 30-square-foot patch of ground adjacent to a stand of Eastern Hemlocks. For several days in succession, additional tails appeared each morning, eventually totaling 20 or more.
Flying Squirrels, both Northern and Southern, are part of many animals’ diet. Among the documented predators are Great Horned Owls, Barred Owls, Screech Owls, Northern Goshawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Martens, River Otters, Weasels, Fishers, Red Foxes and Bobcat. Many of these animals can gain access to the trees where the Flying Squirrels reside. Others take advantage of squirrels foraging on the ground.
The puzzling part of this mystery is the large number of tails. In cold weather (usually in winter, but we’ve had below-freezing nights recently), Flying Squirrels huddle together in tree cavities in an attempt to provide themselves with added warmth. Did a foraging Fisher discover a communal den? How did it manage to capture so many squirrels? Did the survivors remain in the same cavity, only to be captured in subsequent nights? So many questions that this naturalist cannot answer. Perhaps a reader can! (Thanks to John Quimby and Michael O’Donnell, who kindly shared their fascinating discovery with me.)
Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.
This entry was posted on November 2, 2018 by Mary Holland. It was filed under Barred Owl, Flying Squirrels, Great Horned Owl, Marten, Mystery Photo, Northern Flying Squirrel, Northern Goshawk, November, Predator-Prey, Red Foxes, Red-tailed Hawk, River Otter, Rodents, Screech Owl, Southern Flying Squirrel, Uncategorized, Weasel Family .