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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote ®: Douglas Squirrel

Air Date: Week of November 16, 2012

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(Photo: © Mike Hamilton)

The Douglas Squirrel can sound like a bird when its warning away intruders in its territory. Mary McCann has the story.

Transcript

[BIRDNOTE® THEME]

CURWOOD: Yes - that's the music we play when we talk about birds in BirdNote®. Today though, we have another example of mimicry creeping into our BirdNote®, as Mary McCann explains.

[CALL OF A DOUGLAS SQUIRREL]


A Douglas Squirrel perched on a tree branch (Photo: © Mike Hamilton)

MCCANN: Doesn’t that sound like a bird? Actually, we’re hearing a Douglas squirrel, a pint-sized, chestnut-red native of forests from the Sierra Nevadas of California northward to coastal British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.

[CALL OF A DOUGLAS SQUIRREL]

MCCANN: They waste no time in telling you—and other squirrels—you’re in their territory, particularly if you’re near their central larder of conifer cones. Here’s a pair discussing our presence right now.


(Photo: © Mike Hamilton)

[DUET OF DOUGLAS SQUIRRELS SENDING ALARMS]

MCCANN: The Scottish explorer and botanist, David Douglas, surely heard them in 1825 when he traveled up the Columbia River with trappers for the Hudson’s Bay Company. He came to gather specimens of Pacific Northwest plants, including seeds of the large evergreen tree that today also bears his name.

[TRILL OF THE DOUGLAS SQUIRREL]

MCCANN: If you’re lucky, in summer, you’ll hear young squirrels racing up and down the tree trunks. Listen! You can hear their claws as they scamper on their vertical playground.

[YOUNG DOUGLAS SQUIRRELS RACING UP AND DOWN TREES]


(© Idie Ulsh)

MCCANN: In fall, you might hear the sound of cones rocketing out of those trees, as Douglas squirrels gather them for winter. And what about those large, mostly silent squirrels that we see just about everywhere? Those are eastern gray squirrels, interlopers, when in the land of the Douglas.


(Photo: © Mike Hamilton)

[ALARM CALL OF DOUGLAS SQUIRREL]

MCCANN: I’m Mary McCann.

CURWOOD: Check out the pictures of Douglas Squirrels at our web-site, loe dot org.

[Sounds of the Douglas squirrel recorded by C. Peterson
Written by Chris Peterson
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org November 2012 Narrator: Mary McCann}

 

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