Flying Squirrels!

Imagine a private residence that lies next to a woodland with a mixture of mature conifers and nut-bearing, deciduous trees. Many trees, alive and dead, have hollows or cavities. This is good squirrel habitat, and it may very well harbor more than one species.The bird feeders in the backyard of the residence, filled earlier in the day to feed songbirds and Gray Squirrels, are filled again – at dusk. Within minutes, something glides overhead, tree to tree, high to low, making its way to the smorgasbord of seeds and grain. Within the hour, a dozen small mammals, (maybe more – their lightning-fast movement makes an accurate head count impossible), are at the feeders like a swarm of bees. The tiny gliders are Flying Squirrels.

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I’m familiar with most of the mammals native to this part of North America and can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything, large or small, move as quickly as a Flying Squirrel on a tree trunk. At least a third of my photos captured the tips of tails, or nothing at all. During “rush hour”, the peak feeding frenzy shortly after dark, 10 – 12 squirrels worked the feeder simultaneously and I was determined to capture a group portrait. Two evenings, two hours, and 100 shots later, I had the image below.

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Anyone who maintains bird feeders is all too familiar with several of the diurnal members of the Sciuridae family (including Gray Squirrels, Red Squirrels and Chipmunks in this region). In a woodland setting however, the Flying Squirrel might also be using the feeders, coming and going in the cloak of fading light and darkness. Little known and seldom seen, their unique nocturnal habit keeps them off the  grid!

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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