Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tale of Two Squirrels

Take a look around your neighborhood these days and you'll probably see this squirrel busily collecting acorns and other nuts. It will bury them and dig them up in winter and spring.

I've watched some amusing yelling matches between squirrels and scrub jays. The squirrels swoosh their tails furiously and scream. (The more fluid, back-and-forth tail waving is an amorous gesture, according to Jim Dines, a mammalogist with the Natural History Museum of LA County.) Dines says, "Jays are particularly intelligent--they're related to crows--and will watch where the squirrels are burying their nuts so they can steal them later."

These are a few of the tidbits I learned reporting the following story on native and nonnative squirrels in the Los Angeles area.


Who hasn’t watched their backyard squirrels scurry along power lines, spiral up and down tree trunks, whip their tails and holler “chkk-chkk-chkk” at trespassing scrub jays?

Now that autumn trees are full of acorns, the antics are in overdrive.

Surprisingly, though, the squirrels leaping from bough to bough in urban Los Angeles aren’t native.

Before urbanization, trees were far less common in the Los Angeles basin. Ground squirrels burrowed into the earth, but the native arboreal squirrel lived in mountainous areas.

The story continues on Chance of Rain.

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