In Edgewood, near a beautiful wooded area rich with Douglas fir trees, I recently released a female Douglas’ Squirrel. She’d been successfully rehabilitated by South Sound Critter Care after being hit by a car, and was now ready to go home.
She dashed out of the carrier to an old apple tree, where she rested for a few minutes near the top branches. Then, as fast as her little legs could take her, she ran to a Douglas fir just beyond the apple tree. She really seemed happy to be back in her neighborhood! Watch the video of her release, below.
You'll probably hear a Douglas' squirrel before you see it, as its high-pitched trills and chirps are unmistakable. This noisy squirrel is native to the West Coast, from California into British Columbia and parts of SE Alaska. It prefers old growth forests, relying on seeds from trees and bushes for the majority of its diet. This squirrel stores its seed caches under discarded cone scales on the forest floor. Many seeds are left uneaten or are dispersed throughout the territory, sprouting into new growth, an example of the incredible symbiotic relationship of life in the forest.
In his memoir, The Mountains of California, John Muir wrote of the Douglas' squirrel "surpassing every other species in force of character, numbers, and extent of range, and in the amount of influence he brings to bear upon the health and distribution of the vast forests he inhabits."
Squirrels are rodents, related to beavers, porcupines, rats, and mice, to name a few. A group of squirrels is called a "scurry," but they are typically solitary unless raising their young. If you see multiple squirrels visiting your yard, this means resources are plentiful, including fresh water and food. John Muir would be proud.
SSCC Volunteer Shana Osmer
(Video of the Douglas' Squirrel release, below, is by Shana Osmer.)