Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Black Squirrels of Friendship Woods

Which squirrel is the gray squirrel?  They both are! And perhaps litter mates.

A 'black squirrel' hauls a load of shredded grape vine bark up to its nest.
photo by Jonathan Schechter

One of the dozens of black squirrels of Friendship Woods peers down at trail hikers. 
all photos by Jonthan Schechter

Hike the one mile trail of Friendship Woods at the Madison Heights Nature Center (Michigan) and
unless you have your eyes closed you will see black squirrels. And with snows of winter returning,
 this is a perfect time to go for a black squirrel hunt-with your camera!  Black squirrels are uncommon
 in many parts of Michigan but they are not at all rare. They are just a melanistic variety of our common eastern gray squirrel. If  gray squirrels mate and both hold the recessive gene, one or more of the
squirrels in the litter may be jet black. And in some isolated pockets of woodlands - such as this 31
 acre nature site surrounded by homes, highways, and industry- the black squirrel is the dominant
 squirrel. For more on the Friendship Woods Trail see the hiking column in the February 20th edition
 of The Oakland Press in print or on line at  (Type my full name into the search box and all published hiking columns appear.)



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