American Red Squirrel

Over the past few months, I have made friends with a couple of red squirrels. Well, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration. It is closer to the truth to say that we have learned to coexist on this little plot of land.

The red squirrel is one of the smaller tree squirrels. They are about 12″ inches long including the tail. In comparison, the eastern gray squirrel can be about 22″ long. Red squirrels have deep orange on their upper back and their sides are brown. You can also tell when a red squirrel is around because of their high pitched chirps, squeaks, and barks. These squirrels are very vocal.

My two red squirrel friends live on the north side of my house. This portion of the land has a mix on hardwood trees, softwood trees, and open lawn. I believe the squirrels have a nest somewhere in the spruce and cedar trees, but I haven’t located it yet. Part of the challenge with this is that red squirrels will nest inside tree cavities, in underground burrows, or in debris nests on tree branches. There is a large old cedar tree that is right on the edge of the yard that they usually hang out on. There is a good probability the nest is around there.

Red squirrels usually eat pine seeds, nuts, fruit, tree sap and sometimes bird eggs. My two squirrels have developed a fondness for black oil sunflower seeds. This is not surprising because of the bird feeders are full of this type of seed.

It is quite amusing to watch them travel the tree-branch super highway from one side of the yard to the other, only to get in a fight with each other when the reach the seed and bird feeder. They begin to squawk and chirp at each other and then chase each other back up into the trees.

The more time I spend outside, the more I start to notice their behavior. For example, they follow the same path through the trees as they traverse the yard. Hoping from the old spruce tree, to the maple, to the poplar, and then down to the ground. When they want to get back to the other side of the yard, they follow the same path in reverse.

These two also “talk” a lot. I read somewhere that red squirrels can vocalize for hours and it isn’t just when they are fighting over food. They seem to communicate with each other all day. Chirping back and forth from different parts of the yard, perhaps even warning each other when my dog comes out for her walk. It is becoming increasing clear to me that even the most common of the backyard animals, have a magic and mysterious life that we can only begin to understand.


What has been happening in your neighborhood? Please share your nature stories below.


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6 thoughts on “American Red Squirrel

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  1. made friends with… I like that. To me it seems there is at heart ‘something’ beyond anthropomorphism. Begegnung. I made friends with a cheeky robin once. Coming to think of it, these days it is similar with the wild rose bush in my yard – a longer lasting quieter affair, I give you that.

    1. Very nice! I just looked up Begegnung. It looks like I might need to take a deeper dive into this term and its origins. Thank you for sharing this.

      1. see what you find – I can’t quite bring myself to say ‘encounter’ but have on occasion said ‘dialogue’. Martin Buber uses the concept to explain that in every B the numinous appears, as the third agent, so to speak, as I remember. There appears an irreconcilable issue when reading Buber in English as his work Ich und Du has been translated as I and Thou – which to my understanding misses the point of the intimacy of Du. If you look up Buber or similar, i hope you enjoy it.

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