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squirrel wars

In the yard of the house south of me is a large walnut tree. Today I witnessed a heated altercation between a grey, black and a red squirrel over distribution of the tree's largess. Each thought the tree belonged to them! Many bad words were spoken, much tail waving and much chasing up and down & hither and fro. Romy (pictured in icon) sat in the window and was still being amused by it all as I left for work.

Being from New England I was very familiar with grey and red squirrels (flying ones as well). The black squirrel (a melanistic subgroup of grey squirrel) was not something I had seen before. The original population here was imported (by John Harvey Kellogg) to MSU back in the day. When I first moved to town they were still primarily located on campus and the surrounding environs. I am about 3 miles from campus and it has taken about 25 years for the majority population to tip in favor of the black.

The three flavors of squirrel do not like each other. I don't know who won this battle but I'm betting on the black squirrels. I'm also betting that there will be new walnut trees sprouting all over my yard AGAIN!


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 22nd, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
How about fox squirrels? They were more common than grays in Ann Arbor.
Oct. 22nd, 2009 05:28 am (UTC)
Fox squirrels used to be the only kind in my back yard 20 years ago but they have become fewer with the advance of the black squirrels. A five years ago the street in front of my house was no-squirrel's-zone. Then a couple of years ago the black squirrels crossed the street. Now the squirrels living in my back yard are black.

Fox squirrels are the predominate squirrel in downtown Lansing (2 miles west of me) and they are so easy to spot because of their size.

Red squirrels were first spotted moving in from the south a couple of years ago by a neighbor in the next block with a bird feeder. Small numbers however. This is only the second time I have seen one in the city.

This was the first grey I have seen in forever. White belly! wrong size for a fox. Everything I've read says that grey squirrels can produce black offspring -- do you know if it works the other way? Could a black pair throw a grey?

Oct. 22nd, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised you didn't have red squirrels until lately. We had swarms of them in the Washtenaw County area in the 1960s, and they move fast . . .

Don't know (and Wife, the Professional, doesn't know) if black squirrels can produce gray offspring. I would assume so, as the blacks are just a melanistic variant. They can interbreed. Don't know if they are racists or not . . .

Way back when, the only place I saw black squirrels was up in the Glen Lake area, near Traverse City. Our family had a cottage on Lake Leelanau.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )