Ain't No Mountain High Enough...

Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
I lived here almost twenty years thinking I was watching Western Gray Squirrels (Sciurus griseus) raiding the bird feeders.  After all, this is the West, right?  When I actually did a little studying, I discovered the Westerns have become relatively rare in Washington due to habitat loss.  They only live in nut-bearing deciduous forests, which are also becoming rare here.  There is a patch of Garry Oaks south of Tacoma and some spots in eastern Washington where the Westerns survive.

The critters I am observing on South Fidalgo are Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis).  They were introduced here and are not at all threatened.  They like to hoard food and I get peanuts, sunflowers and corn coming up all over the yard.  Apparently, they have not learned the chipmunk's trick of biting off the germ before burying their treasure.  They also create little caches tucked in crannies on my porches, decks and patio.  Last year, I dug up a walnut buried in the garden.  Somebody in the neighborhood must have a tree and the squirrels are using my yard to store their harvest.

Called "tree rats" by some, these are intelligent and resourceful creatures.  If you don't believe it, check out the videos of obstacle courses from the UK, where the Easterns have also been introduced.  I have added a squirrel feeder to the mix of feeders in the front patio.  They must open a lid to get to the goodies.  This keeps the Steller's Jays from stealing all the peanuts.  My gang expects a daily treat and will wait on the picnic table until it comes.  Some bird folks go to great lengths to discourage the squirrels.  Here on South Fidalgo, we all just try to get along.