Edmonds Backyard Critters

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
I am always glad to see a native Douglas's squirrel in our back yard. Two of them were (quite appropriately) in two of our backyard Douglas's firs Thursday (9-14-18).

Squirrel #1.

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Squirrel #2

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My and my neighbors backyard fences form a squirrel freeway to Pine Ridge Park, home to many of these small squirrels, which are native to the aera. The larger, more common squirrels are eastern grays, which are an introduced/invasive species.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
A pair of Douglas's squirrels has been in my backyard the past two days. Sunday morning (2-16-2020) I got some photos of them from inside my house. I was shooting through the sliding glass door and stairs of the second story back deck as any attempt to open the door and go out on the deck would have scared off the squirrels.

One was in one of my Douglas's firs, naturally.

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While the other one was hunting for spilled seeds beneath my bird feeders.

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The one on the ground was approached by a larger, eastern gray squirrel, an invasive species.

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The Doug squirrel, a native to the PNW, met the intruder head on.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
After sending off the eastern gray, the Doug squirrel attempted to climb up to the seed feeders. I have never seen an eastern gray do this. The Doug squirrel scampered up the pole with no problem, only to be stopped by the squirrel guard.

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I would not mind the Doug squirrels visiting my seed feeders, but I don't want the eastern grays, as they would empty the feeders in one day.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Tuesday morning (3-24-20) the pair of Douglas' squirrels were in my backyard.

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The white stuff is not snow but old furniture stuffing that my son placed below the bird feeders for squirrels or birds that might want it for nesting material. Shooting through the sliding door and back deck.

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Sharing the seeds with a male varied thrush.

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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
Very cool! I only have the Greys. The Douglas are nice looking, wish I had both here too. You’re certainly right about the Greys emptying a feeder fast. I wouldn’t mind if they just ate a bit, but they rake out all the seeds searching for peanuts or the perfect sunflower seed or, well, who knows what?
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
My court butts up to the north end of Pine Ridge Park, home to Douglas' squirrels and pileated woodpeckers. My and my neighbors' back yard fences line up to form a squirrel freeway which leads to the park. I suspect the Doug squirrels and pileated woodpeckers (see my thread in the Bird section) that visit my backyard come from there.
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
My court butts up to the north end of Pine Ridge Park, home to Douglas' squirrels and pileated woodpeckers. My and my neighbors' back yard fences line up to form a squirrel freeway which leads to the park. I suspect the Doug squirrels and pileated woodpeckers (see my thread in the Bird section) that visit my backyard come from there.
Nice! I have neither Douglas Squirrels or Pileated Woodpeckers. I just have the "generic" ones, Grey Squirrels and Northern Flickers. I still enjoy them though, and I also have a "squirrel freeway". It runs from a neighbor's tree to my bird feeder. The neighbor has an area of grass he intentionally lets get a bit taller, and you can see a well worn path through the grass.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Thievin' squirrel!

Thursday (4-2-2020) I caught this squirrel pilfering food from my suet feeder. I would not mind if it were a native Douglas' squirrel, but it is an invasive eastern gray. I will have to start stocking this feeder with the spicy suet, which is supposedly unappealing to rodents.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
The Douglas's squirrels returned to my backyard Saturday afternoon (4-4-2020) while I was out on the back deck visiting with my next door neighbors. The squirrels did not mind our presence, so I retrieved my camera and snapped some photos.

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Sunlight plus closer distances without having to shoot through glass and deck rail supports enabled be to get better photos than previous days.

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The squirrel foraged alongside a male dark-eyed junco. The juncos have taken over my feeders this winter.

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If I feel OK and weather permitting, I may set up the 600mm telephoto tomorrow. I have not had many opportunities to use it since I purchased it last fall.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
More on the Douglas's squirrel, courtesy of Bird Note. It took me a few times to realize that the "bird cry" I could not identify was actually the chirping of a Douglas's squirrel

 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Friday (4-10-2020) was a warm, sunny day, so I had my son drag the "big" lens (600L telephoto) up to the back deck so we could sun ourselves and hopefully take some photos of backyard wildlife.

Recently the pair of Douglas's squirrels that has been visiting my backyard yard have been showing up in the late afternoon. This time they came from the direction of Pine Ridge Park to the south.

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Unlike the larger eastern grays, the Douglas's squirrels can get into my ground suet feeder. I could remedy this by using spicy suet, which rodents supposedly find inedible, but I will let matters remain for now as I want to encourage them to remain in the area.

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The squirrel was not greedy, preferring to forage for seeds which had spilled out of my seed feeders.

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Mystery squirrel?
I assumed that the pair small squirrels visiting my back yard together were both Douglas's squirrels. Looking at this photo of the two squirrels together and studying some of my earlier photos in closer detail, they appear different.

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I have looked at photos of Douglas's squirrels on the internet and have seen photos that look like both squirrels. Is there sexual dimporphism in Douglas's squirrels? I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has more information.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
The squirrel controversy continues. Some feel the mystery squirrel is a western gray while others believe it is a juvie eastern gray. I have never heard of western grays being in Edmonds.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
The mystery squirrel was a no show Sunday with only the Douglas's squirrel making an appearance.

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Squirrel Wars
I missed getting shots of the Doug squirrel attacking an eastern gray under my feeders, but I did get shots of a skirmish on the neighbors' fence.

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The Douglas's squirrel is tiny but feisty and will hold its own against the larger eastern gray
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
A little about my back deck setup (skip if you already read it in my Bird thread).
More is not necessarily better. After learning the hard way, I have decided against using a teleconverter with the 5DIII + 600L telephoto. I missed shots of squirrel skirmishes because the 600L + 1.4x TC (effective 820mm) got me too close. Sometimes I need a wider field of view to get everything in the shot or to follow fast moving critter action. I do keep the 1.4x and 2x TC's on a nearby table "just in case."

I think the Douglas's squirrels and some of the birds, like the pileated woodpeckers, are habituating to my presence. They have gotten close enough for full frame shots with the 1DxII + 100-400L II telephoto zoom, which I keep within arm's reach.

There was squirrel action once again in my backyard Monday afternoon (4-13-2020). A Douglas's and an eastern gray were on my back fence. I set up for another squirrel skirmish, but the two kept a respective distance from each other.

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I tracked the Douglas's squirrel to a tree in a neighbor's yard. Later I heard at least two Douglas's squirrels calling from that area. One, which I have named Michael, came to my yard and climbed high up one of my Douglas's firs, where he perched for a while.

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A squirrel can travel among the the four Douglas's firs in my backyard without having to come down to the ground. Michael descended the tree closest to the back deck, enabling me to get closeups with the 1DxII + 100-400L II telephoto zoom.

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He also explored the area under the tree beneath the deck.

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Michael climbed up my back fence and traversed those of my neighbors, heading south toward Pine Ridge Park. He had nearly reached the park when I saw him last. It will be interesting to see if he returns to my back yard tomorrow.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Michael, one of my backyard Douglas's squirrels, returned Tuesday afternoon (4-14-2020).

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Life on the edge.

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Wheee!

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Once again Michael foraged for seeds beneath the feeders including a short stop at the ground suet feeder.

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After he was done foraging in my yard, Michael headed south to Pine Ridge Park via the court's back fence squirrel freeway like he did the previous day. You start seeing patterns of wildlife behavior when spending time at the same location for several days in a row.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Photos from Wednesday (4-15-2020) afternoon. I think I have figured out Michael's routine.

After spending the night in Pine Ridge Park, he heads north along the squirrel freeway to scout the backyards on the west side of our court.

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He makes a long stop in my back yard to forage beneath the bird feeders.

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After eating his fill, he takes an afternoon siesta in one of my tall Douglas firs. I missed seeing him going up the tree, but caught him coming down after he announced his presence by barking. This also attracted the attention of a crow that has recently been dive bombing squirrels in the back yard. The crow flew up and perched near Michael, then flew off.

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Michael foraged again beneath the bird feeders before heading back south to Pine Ridge Park on the squirrel freeway. He showed no interest in the remains of an apple I had tossed out. The apple was later picked up by an eastern gray squirrel that also headed south towards Pine Ridge Park on the squirrel freeway with the apple in its mouth.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
The past 29 years I have seen squirrels, opossums, and raccoons in my back yard. I have changed the title of this thread to reflect this and the possibility an occasional deer, coyote, bear, or cougar might stroll through as well.

Just when I thought I had Michael's daily routine figured out, he surprised me. He made a late start Thursday afternoon (4-16-2020) cruising north through the neighborhood on the squirrel freeway. My son was not home to help me set up the big lens, so I made do with the 1DxII + 100-400L II telephoto zoom.

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A while later he returned south and headed back to the park without stopping in my backyard.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
I have given up trying to figure out Michael's schedule. About 9:30 Friday morning (4-17-2020) I caught him foraging beneath my feeders. He jumped up on my fence and headed north on the squirrel freeway. I grabbed some shots as I wanted to get at least one photograph with the light coming in at the correct angle with no afternoon shadows.

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A little too much light, but he ran off before I could adjust the exposure compensation.

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