Birdwatchers know, the minute a bird feeder is in place, the Gray Squirrel will most likely be the first visitor.
Whether you find them frustrating or fascinating, they are a part of the birdwatchers backyard.
Measuring about 17 to 20 inches long. They have grayish-brown fur, except for their bellies, which have pale fur. The tail often has silvery-tipped hairs at the end.
In Canada, some have rufous bellies and tails. Black phase is common in northern parts of its range.
During the mating season which is twice a year, December to January and June to July, a type of chasing occurs.
The female gives off a scent that attracts males. A line of males can be seen chasing one female. The ones immediately behind her are the more dominant males, and one will probably be allowed to breed with her.
Their home or nest is a leafy nest located in a cavity or fork of a tree.
Cavities suitable for squirrel nests occur most often in older trees, particularly white oaks, elms, sycamores and soft maples.
These are preferred home sites, especially for winter and for nurseries, because they provide good protection from weather and enemies.
Leaf nests are usually built in the tops of large trees and consist of a rough twig framework with a bulky pile of leaves heaped layer upon layer.
The squirrel hollows out a nest cavity in the center of the leaves.
Gray squirrels gestation requires about 45 days, one to eight young comprise a litter, but two or three are most common.
The young are hairless at birth, have their eyes and ears closed, and possess well developed claws. They come out of the nest for the first time when 6 to 7 weeks old, and in another week or so are weaned.
In summer, you will notice that gray squirrels are most active at your feeders in the early morning and then again in midafternoon; during the middle of the day they rest.
In the winter, when the days are shorter, noontime is their peak activity time.
The primary natural foods of these creatures are nuts; fruits and buds of hickory, pecan,walnut, elm and mulberry trees; and field corn.
To bury a nut, a gray squirrel digs a hole about 3 to 4 inches deep, puts the nut inside, pushes it down whith its nose, and then pulls the soil over it with its front paws.
When it wants to retrieve the nut, it goes to the general area and locates it either by the smell or by its own scent, which was left when it buried the nut with its nose.
The range of this animal consist of several acres that overlap the home ranges of other squirrels. Although they seldom travel farther than 200 yards from home in any one season.
They do not defend these territories. However, there is a dominance hierachy with others of the same species. In general, older males are dominant over females and younger squirrels.
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