Squirrel Appreciation Day
Your Squirrel Sightings Are Needed
Would you believe it, today, Saturday January 21st is Squirrel Appreciation Day! On the SciStarter web site there is a squirrel campaign! All you have to do is have an interest in nature, be able to identify a squirrel (Sciuridae), and report your sighting. The squirrel family includes ground squirrels, flying squirrels (Pteromyini or Petauristini), marmots (genus Marmota), prairie dogs (genus Cynomys), groundhogs (Marmota monax) and chipmunks (family Sciuridae.) At the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area because of the diversity, woodland and grassland ecosystems, these furry little friends abound hoarding the Scotch Pine Pine Cones, and snacking down on Colorado Blue Spruce cones. It is a squirrel haven! Help biologists by becoming a citizen scientist, and increase the data and information on the urban squirrel.
Additionally, biologists are seeking information on white squirrels. If you have seen a rare white squirrel, scientists are particularly keen to learn more about their habitat and ecology. Find out more about White Squirrel Mapping project.
Researchers are also studying the colour morphing of grey squirrels to black and why this is happening. This species is mainly found along the east coast of North America, however they have been found world wide. Keep you eyes open, and see if this squirrel’s range has extended into the prairies, and if these little squirrels scamper up and down the trees at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area. Squirrel Mapper will provide more information.
Out of the 262 species of squirrels found in Canada, there are several species of rodents (rodentia; gnawing mammals) in Saskatchewan, and of these, there are the Richardson’s ground squirrel (Urocitellus richardsonii), which may be seen in as colonies on the prairie grasslands. The Franklin’s ground squirrels also known as bush gophers are solitary mammals who enjoy the habitat of the parklands. The Franklin’s ground squirrel (Poliocitellus franklinii) once extremely abundant in the prairies, is seeing a decline in population due to a loss of environment. Additionally in Saskatchewan we spot the thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus), also nick named the striped gopher. The Northern Pocket Gopher, (Thomomys talpoides) loves the prairie grasslands feasting on clover, dandelion, and goldenrod and will avoid rocky and wet clay-like soil for their underground burrows.
The Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) has also made appearance in our province over the last 40 years. These are the largest species of tree squirrels which live in North America. The Fox Squirrel is an omnivore, which means it eats the typical nuts, seeds and berries, but will also forage on insects, caterpillars, and young birds These fox squirrels love the elm, balsam poplar, and green ash which are afforested at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, and these little rodents will spend the summer gathering food, burying it in the soil in caches for the winter moths.. Be careful not to confuse the more common American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) with the fox squirrel. The American Red squirrel is smaller and has the characteristic reddish fur with a white venter (underbelly). The Red Squirrel loves to feast on seeds and nuts, loving mature forests with especially the spruce, Scotch pine, which is abundantly afforested in the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, however Red squirrels also have a taste for berries, flowers, insects, smaller mammals, young birds and eggs.
The Northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) has a range which will make sighting in Saskatoon possible, and they happen to love mixed conifereous forests, however you will have to be keen, as they are nocturnal (active at night).
The Groundhog (Marmota monax), or woodchuck’s range, is throughout north eastern United States, carrying over through Canada, which makes sighting one of these very possible. Also called the Canada Marmot or Thickwood badger, loves to feast on Alfalfa, and lives alongside forest clearings. They are able to climb trees for safety.
So next time you are out walking and enjoying the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, take along your camera, and try to spot one of the many species of squirrels in Saskatchewan, and report your sightings!
Truly, squirrels, indeed, would agree with Richard St. Barbe Baker, “You can gauge a country’s wealth, its real wealth, by its tree cover.”
Please comment on your squirrel sightings on this web page, or send in your photographs! Do you have a squirrel story to tell?
Send in your squirrel photos to the SWOLRA or the Richard St. Barbe Baker facebook pages! Facebook: StBarbeBaker Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Facebook: South West OLRA
Banks, Shelley. Fox Squirrel in Regina, Saskatchewan. Prarie Nature~ Saskatchewan Birds, Nature, Scenery. February 15, 2013.
Natural Neighbours Selected Mammals of Saskatchewan ISBN 9780889771239. 2001. University of Regina Press.
Ferron, Jean. Squirrel. Canadian Encyclopedia. Feb 7, 2006.
Schowalter, Tim. Rodents Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Canadian Plains Research Centre. University of Regina. 2006.
University of Regina. Canadian Plains Research Center Title Selected Mammals of Saskatchewan. Volume 1 of Discover Saskatchewan series: Natural neighbours Volume 1 of Natural neighbours. Editor Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management. author of text accompanying photos Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management. Edition illustrated
Publisher University of Regina Press, 2001. ISBN 0889771235, 9780889771239.
Wikipedia: Richardson Ground Squirrel | Eastern Gray Squirrel | Flying Squirrel | Chipmunk | Prairie Dog | Ground Squirrel | Tree Squirrel | Fox Squirrel | Franklin’s Ground Squirrel | Northern Flying Squirrel | Thirteen-lined ground squirrel
For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”. Please and thank you!