[Tweeters] A Squirrel Suprises

Rob Conway robin_birder at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 10 23:36:26 PST 2013

The alarm call in Dennis's video is typical of a female squirrel with young and serves as a warning to stay off of the ground and be still. Male squirrels have a "chuff" call that they challenge each other with. All grey squirrels (both eastern and western) have a specific alarm call that announces a surprise and possible preditor. It is a constant short bark (think ping pong calls by some owls) and can go on for 10 minutes or more. My father who lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Yosemite (family ranch where he grew up) has 4 squirrels that have been around the house for 5 or more years (western greys) and each of them has distinct vocalizations - dad has even named one of them Chatterbox. Another is blind on the right side (Peekaboo) and I'd love to have the time to see if that changes "typical" behavior. I did extensive research on Grey Squirrel communication at Stanford for both eastern and particularly Western grey squirrels while studying squirrel interactions with both man and other wild creatures. Hawks, people, dogs, cats, foxes, and bobcats all get different calls. There are also differing behaviors and calls for ground squirrels (very vocal, but quiet), prarie dogs, and marmots - all close relatives to our nut steeling friends. I'd publish my research for Tweeters but it is typewritten and part of it is missing - given to a professor who did peer review over 35 years ago.
Animal communication is an incredibly interesting subject and I am always finding new surprises.

Rob Conway
Camas, WA
45.58°N 122.44°W - elevation 310 ft.
robin_birder at hotmail.com

From: dennispaulson at comcast.net
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] A Squirrel Suprises
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2013 15:41:17 -0800
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu

I hear squirrels in my yard regularly. They make a "chuff" sound and a raucous descending squealing sound as alarm calls. Sometimes they also squeak when they chase each other around the yard, but I have heard the alarm calls many times over the years. Certainly not daily. Maybe squirrels aren't alarmed by you, although they should be by ol' Max (unless ol' Max is a goldfish).
Try this for a sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8b-2TFrx3fg

On Nov 10, 2013, at 12:01 PM, tweeters-request at mailman1.u.washington.edu wrote:Message: 18
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2013 11:34:59 -0800
From: jeff gibson <gibsondesign at msn.com>
Subject: [Tweeters] A Squirrel Suprises
To: tweeters <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Message-ID: <BLU178-W4758ABC430DD2B85AA62E5C9FC0 at phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Just got home from walking the dog around our nice North Everett neighborhood, after having had a new life experience! I heard a Grey Squirrel!

While our native Washington state "conifer squirrels", Douglas and Red, are famously noisy, I've never heard so much as a peep out of an Eastern Grey Squirrel. And I've seen thousands of them. Visiting New Mexico a few years ago, I was surprised to hear the local Arizona Grey Squirrels make a loud 'chuffing' noise. " Gee", I thought " our Grey Squirrels at home are quiet as a fire hydrant !".

And they have been, in my Eastern Grey Squirrel experience, which spans more than fifty years of city livin' here in the Puget Sound area. Until today that is.

Walking ol' Max up the sidewalk, I heard an unusual bird call coming from a nearby street tree, a loud call that I couldn't quite place. "Scrub Jay?", I thought, but that didn't quite fit. " A young Crow?", sorta like, but wrong season. Definitely some sort of corvid, I thought, but then all sorts of strange, loud clucking sounds started coming out of the same plum tree, interspersed with the corvid -like calls. " What in the world is this bird?", I really was wondering.

Well, it was just a regular ol' city Grey Squirrel making a ton of noise! I was flabbergasted. Maybe all you "squirrel whisperer's" hear this all the time, but for me this was a first. Missing something like this for more than fifty years is sort of miraculous, maybe?.

Jeff Gibson,

Everett Wa

-----Dennis Paulson1724 NE 98 St.Seattle, WA 98115206-528-1382dennispaulson at comcast.net

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