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.
November 2, 2018 | Categories: 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 | 44 Comments
If 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.
January 30, 2017 | Categories: Flying Squirrels, January, Nocturnal Animals, Northern Flying Squirrel, Rodents, Southern Flying Squirrel, Uncategorized | Tags: Glaucomys sabrinus, Glaucomys volans | 13 Comments