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Posts tagged “Red Squirrel

White Pine Blister Rust Attracts Rodents

When a white pine has been infected with white pine blister rust (a fungus), cankers appear on the branches and sometimes the trunk of the tree.  A large amount of sap-like ooze flows from the cankered areas, sometime drying and resembling a sugary-looking crust or film.  These areas are, in fact, high in sugar content, and rodents frequently chew them.  It’s likely that a red squirrel visited and sampled the infected white pine in the photograph, leaving a freshly-gnawed patch in the bark.


Mystery Nest

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I have found several of these nests, always in winter, when leaves are gone and the nests are visible.  They have all been built in shrubs that are on the edge of cornfields, near large bodies of water.  Each nest measures approximately 12” x 12” and there is one side entrance that is about 1 ½” in diameter.  The base consists largely of grape vines cemented together with a bit of mud.  On top of this layer  there is a thick layer of leaves and at the very top are several inches of  finely-shredded plant material. Soft, shredded plant fibers and leaves line the single inner cavity.  Mice, rats or squirrels are the likely builders, but I do not know which.  If anyone has ever found one of these nests occupied, I would love to know the resident’s identity!


Red Squirrel Tracks

This is the common bounding pattern of a red squirrel in snow.  When it bounds, or hops, its smaller front feet land first, and then the larger hind feet pass to the outside and around the front feet to land in front of them.  In this photograph the squirrel is headed towards the top of the photograph .  There are many exceptions to the rule, but often bounding animals that are tree climbers, such as squirrels, often place their front feet more or less side by side, whereas animals such as rabbits and hares, which do not climb trees, often place their front feet diagonally, one in front of the other.