Outside Research & Personal Observations

While researching, I came across a reference guide titled “Behavior of North American Mammals,” and it described some important information about squirrels and their daily adventures. A fact I found interesting was how squirrel’s daily activities change upon the weather and seasons. For example, the Eastern Fox, Gray, and Red squirrel change how much they’re outside based upon the season.

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Pine cones that are believed to have been devoured by squirrels laying by the base of a tree.

During the spring months to the late summer months these squirrels are active usually twice a day; once around dawn, or the early morning, and once more around the late afternoon, early evening. They usually aren’t out during the heat-of-the-day. This piece of information helped me understand my observation from my journal, “No squirrels were seen on campus during mid-afternoon, from two to three o’clock in forest or field areas.” I wonder then what types of squirrels are on campus; could they be either an Eastern Fox, Red or Gray squirrel?

To help answer this question, I did further research on other aspects of a squirrel that would help us better identify them, like eating habits. While walking through two WCC campus forests, and multiple small forest-like landscapes, we noticed many piles of devoured pinecones at the base of many different trees. I looked back in the book to see what type of squirrel eats pine cones, and what they do with them after their meal. Fortunately, my research led me to one type of squirrel previously researched. It led me to a Red squirrel.

Before confirming my findings, I investigated the Red squirrels species to verify the capability that they live in Michigan, and would settle on a forested college campus. Fortunately, what I found nearly confirms it, but it still leaves me with questions. The Behavior of North American Mammals guide emphasizes that Red squirrels can be found in some Northern areas of the U.S. and Canada. One of these areas include land near Iowa to the North and East. I know Michigan is to the East of Iowa, but the book doesn’t specify how far to the east these squirrels are found. To be completely sure, more research would need to be done around this question.

One last piece of evidence that supports my inference based off of my observation is that the squirrel I believe to be a Red Squirrel did as the reference guide suggests. It proposes, “A red squirrel usually stays on the opposite side of a tree trunk from any potential danger, but should you sit still, they will circle around and above you so that they can keep an eye on you while they sound the alarm.” Surprisingly enough, when I was at  lunch the other day we saw a squirrel and it saw us. Suddenly, it sprang up, and ascended into a tree the same way the reference guide described. Then, it sat still and looked at my friends and I until we left.

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A Red squirrel seen on Washtenaw Community College’s campus at the “bowl,” an open field surrounded by trees.

In conclusion, I learned observations and inferences go hand in hand, but in order to have one you should have another. Without observing squirrels, I wouldn’t have been able to make an inference leading me to my research. The research guiding me to learn about squirrels in my area.

 

SOURCE:

Elbroch, Mark, and Kurt Rinehart. “Family Sciuridae.” Behavior of North American Mammals. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 260-74. Print.

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2 thoughts on “Outside Research & Personal Observations

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