January 21 is National Squirrel Appreciation Day! To celebrate this day we’re sharing a nature journaling from our ‘Community Nature Journal’ and a fun fact that makes us appreciate squirrels at the park for more than just being furry and cute.
Some consider squirrels to be pests, but Eastern Gray Squirrels play an important role in seed dispersal. They forage for nuts, seeds, and tree flowers, and bury them in the ground. Squirrels often hide more than they can eat, or just forget where they’ve hidden a few of their treasures. From those forgotten seeds and nuts sprout trees and plants in the following spring!
Below you’ll find a nature journal entry that features a few of our ‘squirrely’ friends. Caroline, one of our amazing volunteers, made observations on the park today, and in serendipitous fashion observed three squirrels. Enjoy the observations below, followed by a couple of nature take-aways or interpretations.
Community Nature Journal Entry
Day and Time: 01/21/21, 8:45am
Weather: Chilly/Cloudy Temperature: 40 degrees
Location: Greenways trail between The Gift Shop and The Carolyn Hardcastle Bridge to Nature.
Heard scratching noise, saw squirrel eating acorn (trying to pry open acorn?), in a tree on the left of the entrance to greenway.
Another squirrel on right hand side of Greenway entrance scratching loudly at acorn.
Red crested bird (cardinal?) at the top tall tree to the left of Greenway, chirping rhythmically.
White mushrooms growing off of shrubbery branches (left hand side of Greenways ~50m in).
Squirrel #3 perched on a branch over ravine next to parking lot.
Eastern Gray Squirrel: (Sciurus carolinensis)
- The Eastern Gray Squirrel is Kentucky’s state mammal.
- These squirrels store nuts and acorns in small holes in the ground for the winter and can smell a buried nut under a foot of snow, according to the University of Kentucky’s Office for Environmental Outreach Services!
Northern Cardinal: (Cardinalis cardinalis)
- The Northern Cardinal is Kentucky’s state bird.
- It prefers woodland edges, thickets, suburban gardens, towns and desert washes, according to Audubon.org.
Check out our last blog post to learn why some Eastern Gray Squirrels are white. If you’d like to volunteer to complete a nature inventory at the park for our Community Nature Journal, please email our volunteer coordinator Chad!
Visit our sources for more info!
Eastern Gray Squirrel. (n.d.) National Geographic Kids. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/eastern-gray-squirrel/
Eastern Gray Squirrel. (n.d.) uky.edu. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from https://oepos.ca.uky.edu/content/eastern-gray-squirrel
Northern Cardinal. (n.d.) www.audubon.org. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/northern-cardinal