How could I get through most of January 21st without realizing that it is National Squirrel Appreciation Day? Yep-another one of those appreciation days decreed by some declaration somewhere sometime in the past. Evidently this one was founded back in 2001 by Christy Hargrove, a wildlife rehabilitator in Asheville, North Carolina in the Great Smoky Mountains. I’m okay with this as I actually love these furry little rodents. I am particularly fond of the American red squirrel, affectionately known as the mountain boomer in the southern Appalachians; and his west coast cousin, the Douglas squirrel otherwise known as the chickaree. These guys have some amazing personality and they are always fun to see in the woods caching nuts and cones, scampering up and down trees or chasing one another across the forest floor. They add lots of life to the forest and are an important part of the ecosystem. All too often we direct our attention to the mega fauna, but it is the little guys that are just as important to the integrity of a healthy ecosystem. John Muir in his Mountains of California devoted an entire chapter to the Douglas squirrel penning-
” The Douglas squirrel is by far the most interesting and influential of the California scuiuridae (small and medium sized rodent family), surpassing every other species on force of character, numbers, and extent of range, and in the amount of influence he brings to bear upon the health and distribution of the vast forests he inhabits.”
“One never tires of this bright chip of nature,–this brave little voice crying in the wilderness,–of observing his many works and ways, and listening to his curious language.”
I encourage you to read the entire chapter; and this article here on some fascinating things about squirrels. National Squirrel Appreciation Day–nutty idea? Not at all! Have fun celebrating!