The American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is a delightful little creature, full of charm and personality.
This individual was feeding on the last few keys left on the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) in our backyard, and was scampering from one part of the tree to another, sometimes moving at lightening speed.
This species does not enter into true hibernation and may often be seen in the winter, in temperatures as low as minus 25°, on a sunny day. It is strictly diurnal and is most active during the most comfortable hours of the day, morning and afternoon in summer and midday in winter.
Although it garners seeds for storage underground this individual seemed content to make a meal of what was left on the tree.
American Red Squirrels share their habitat with larger Grey Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) but are quite fearless and readily rout them if they dare to trespass. Red Squirrels are so often seen chasing Grey Squirrels it gave way to the myth that the Red Squirrel castrates its larger cousin!
Squirrels are a nuisance for anyone feeding birds, but this little charmer is far less of a problem that Grey or Black Squirrels. It is never seen to be as voracious and seldom cleans out a feeder.
I have always enjoyed this description of American Red Squirrel by the American zoologist, Clinton Merriam.
The Chickaree combines qualities so wholly at variance, so unique, so incomprehensible, and so characteristic withal, that one scarcely knows in what light to regard him. His inquisitiveness, audacity, inordinate assurance, and exasperating insolence, together with his insatiable love of mischief and shameless disregard of all the ordinary customs and civilities of life, would lead one to suppose that he was little entitled to respect; and yet his intelligence, his untiring perseverance, and genuine industry, the cunning cleverness displayed in many of his actions and the irresistible humour with which he does everything command for him a certain degree of admiration. He is arrogant, impetuous, and conceited to an extreme degree, his confidence in his own superior capabilities not infrequently costing him his life. In fact, these contradictions in character and idiosyncrasies in disposition render him a psychological problem of no easy solution.
I think that most of us would echo its sentiments!