Tuesday, August 24, 2010

CA ground squirrel ~ 08/24/10 ~ at home

California ground squirrel
Otospermophilus beecheyi

Sigh, I've had this post in my drafts for a couple days now, because I've been debating about its ID. I've seen squirrels both in the trees and running into holes in the ground around home. My previous squirrel posts were grossly misidentified - yep, I'm still searching and learning. I don't think this is the same individual, nor the same species as last year's staring squirrel post from home. The other possibility for ID is the California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi). Interestingly enough, there's not much information online about local squirrels to the species level; most sites simply mention "squirrel" and leave it at that. I welcome any link suggestions from my blog readers.

I decided on the eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) (and yes, it's introduced into western CA), because of its big size... of course, this individual could be feeding on all those peanuts my friendly scrub jays try to hide in the trees rather than eating them... or it could be pregnant? Like last year's, this one loves sunning on this rock and stares at us through the windows for hours, which unnerves me. Where's my fatty red-shouldered hawk when I want a "hit" done?

ps 09/24/10 - Hahaha! I'm now deciding the subject of the fuzzy pic above is a CA ground squirrel, not an eastern fox squirrel. Although, I do believe I've seen fox squirrels chasing each other in the Douglas-fir next to our balcony. For the past month I've been watching this particular squirrel and looking for identifying features such as the white eye ring characteristic of CA ground squirrels. I'm correcting the label below the pic, but I'm choosing to keep my original post unedited to show how I have difficulty identifying even the most common animals. We also have a new raptor in the vicinity. It's smaller than the red-shouldered hawk and its breast is mostly white with brown flecks. Don't know what it is, yet, and will keep trying to take its pic to post on Nature ID.