Assuming that squirrels were always around I stumbled upon a problem which seemed kind of foolish as I was nearing the end of my citizen science project. The objective of my project was to find, identify and report squirrels in your area, which in my case was all of Washtenaw Community College campus. Many of us have seen squirrels randomly, but have we ever really paid attention to where and when we see these furry critters?
As I frantically searched for them, I didn’t see any. However I saw one squirrel in the morning on campus. The funny thing is that I wasn’t trying to look for them and I didn’t have enough time to identify it. Why was it in there? I think it has something to do with the time of day it was. Surprisingly enough every squirrel species has its own specific habits which include open hours and feeding.
Originally, my group and I searched for squirrels on most days of the week. Our expedition time frame was regularly from 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm. In total we explored 3 places on campus with different characteristics. Unfortunately, While I was searching I didn’t find a single squirrel.
The first place we went to were the pinewoods. This decision was based on the fact that squirrels eat pine cones and there are many pine cones in the pinewoods. We ventured in the pinewoods more than once. on 2 days we went into the pinewoods it was raining and on the other 3 it wasn’t. We developed this theory that squirrels would be running about if their nests were soaked which is why we went out in the rain. While searching for these hidden critters we found other wildlife and the occasional campus smokers. However with many days of recording we didn’t find any squirrels. I was confused why an animal which I once saw regularly vanished when I actually tried to look. Some part of me told me that my group and I were just too loud as I explained my last post . However, I am not too sure if that’s all it is.
Another area we investigated as a group was the hardwoods. The hardwoods, also known as the temperate deciduous forest, is very moist and has many ponds within it. This provides a decent variety of creatures, but as always no squirrels! We have been to the hardwoods numerous times. This specific part of campus is very large. Some days were extremely hot while others were really cold and wet. Even though we saw signs of squirrels we didn’t find any squirrels. After a while my field notes were depressing and I was disappointed that I couldn’t find any. On the other hand this provided me to think more about why they weren’t here.
The next morning while I was in gym class, which was outside, I saw a squirrel on campus! Can you believe it? After days of searching the one time I saw one was when I wasn’t even trying. This opened more questions though. I saw the squirrel, but we were pretty loud. I guessed that it our loud volume wasn’t the only thing connected to the absence of squirrels. What was it? Would I be able to find the answer? Determined to find squirrels and tired of walking around in the mosquito infested forests I decided to sit and relax quietly while looking for squirrels. Now, I was really frustrated about not finding any squirrels. The conditions seemed right and we were looking for them in the correct manner. So what was wrong? That was when I read a colleague’s post which informed me about a book about squirrel behaviors called “Behavior of North American Mammals,” . From this book I learned that in the spring/summer these squirrels were active in the morning and in the night. I wish I had learned of this sooner, but most of it was my fault for not doing enough research.
“Temperate Deciduous Forest.” Earth Observatory. NASA, n.d. Web. 26 June 2014.
“Tree Squirrel.” Wildlife Conflicts Information Website. Purdue University, n.d. Web. 26 June 2014.
Elbroch, Mark, and Kurt Rinehart. Behavior of North American Mammals. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. Print.