Red Squirrels

Being born and raised in England, I was always felt privileged  to get a  glimpse of a red squirrel. They were quite the rarity and almost extinct, thanks to The Duke of Bedford, who introduced the American Grey Squirrel to his Stately Home at Woburn Abbey.

The Grey Squirrel is much bigger than the native Red Squirrel and out performs it in food foraging, breeding and fighting. But worse, it was a carrier for Squirrel Pox and introduced it to the Red who had no immunity to this devastating disease.

red-sq70-75grey-sq70-752

Only 10-20,000 Red Squirrels exist in the UK (no, I didn’t count them) whereas it’s estimated there are two and a half million Greys.

So, imagine my surprise when I was walking Barkley down the Oxbow a few months ago, and I saw a Red Squirrel running along the fence by the older white house at Oxbow Lane entrance. At first, I thought it was a huge chipmunk, with a very fluffy tail, but it soon became obvious it was a tiny squirrel.  My first thoughts were, “What’s an English Red Squirrel doing here?”  Knowing that the Grey in England was a transplant, I assumed the Red in America was also a transplant.

Further research soon proved me wrong.

New York State has three types of squirrels –

The Red Squirrel, pictured below,the Grey Squirrel, and Flying Squirrels.

Tamiasciurus hudsonicus

Here’s a really good article on NYS Squirrels!

Until I started Googling NY Squirrels, I had no idea we had a flying squirrel as a neighbor, but I’ve never seen one. Has anyone else?

flying_squirrel_in_a_tree
Wikipedia Commons

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put the flying squirrel back under protection on June 6, 2011.

I like squirrels. I think they’re cute, especially when they are in a tree staring down at my dog Barkley, (who likes them too) with tail fluffed up and cussing the dog ferociously!  Perhaps we should encourage them in the Oxbow area and provide some little homes for them. I might knock together a couple during the winter, as I’ve just found some plans.

Let me know if you see the reds or even a flying squirrel when you walk the Oxbow trail.

Mike Caswell

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Mike Caswell

I live in Fairport, and my home is at The Oxbow section of The Erie Canal. I fish, have a pontoon boat and like messing in boats. (see www.mud-skipper.com). I'm retired and enjoy every day living here with my wife Carol and our two dogs.

One thought on “Red Squirrels”

  1. I actually saw a flying squirrel yesterday just past the stream bridge down The Oxbow. My dogs ran it up a telegraph pole and it jumped about 15′ across to the nearest tree. It glided across and although the angle was wrong and I didn’t see its ‘wings’ I’m pretty sure a normal squirrel couldn’t have made the jump.

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