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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ohio Fairydiddle Sighting

Today my spouse and I were surprised and delighted to see a red squirrel (Tamiasciurus husonicus) utilizing the feeding stations at Wildwood Metropark in Toledo. My only previous encounter with one of these little guys was at Blackwater Falls in West Virginia, where these mid-sized rodents are called fairydiddles. If you've ever seen their hyperactive behavior, you know that they hardly seem real.

Like the fox squirrel, the red squirrel has (no surprise) a lot of red, but its belly is white, like that of the eastern gray squirrel. It is also a good bit smaller than either, maybe half the size of the fox squirrel.
fox squirrel

red squirrel

gray squirrel
The red squirrel also has delightfully pointy ears and a distinctive white eye ring.

I had always thought of fairydiddles as creatures of the mountains, and a quick search for "red squirrel" on the internet revealed that they are (or were) residents of coniferous forests with a preferred diet of spruce and pine seeds.  In recent years (obviously), they have moved into hardwood forest areas and backyards and become more omnivorous. They are supposedly also more aggressive than other squirrels, but this one never got that message. It was repeatedly driven into hiding by the herd of fox squirrels domininating the Wildwood feeding area this afternoon.

I suspect it will be back.

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