Squirrel Week is approaching!

March 20, 2015 • 3:44 pm

More kibbles have fallen into my lap: Greg has a post on Squirrel Week, which begins in April, but he wants it posted now because there’s a squirrel photo contest whose deadline is isoon.  I should add that Greg’s daughter went to the Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland, explaining his disquisition on Academy squirrels below.

by Greg Mayer

We are, dare I say, blessed to have not one, but two squirrel-themed holidays, National Squirrel Appreciation Day (January 21, which Jerry noted here), and Squirrel Week (April 12-18 of this year). The latter holiday seems to have been invented in 2011 by sciurophile Washington Post columnist John Kelly, who has announced Squirrel Week’s second annual photo contest. Entries are due by Mar. 27, and the winner will be announced on April 12. You should go have a look at the 2014 entrants, including the winner; Jerry highlighted some of these last year.

We’ve long had an interest in squirrels at WEIT, and John Kelly seems not to have said exactly when Squirrel Week is this year (the winning photo will be announced around April 12), so we’ll get an early start with gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Midshipman with two yard dogs (Sciurus carolinensis) at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in the 1970s.
Midshipman with two yard dogs (Sciurus carolinensis) at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in the 1970s.

This is a retro-photo, from the 1970s. Squirrels are very common on the grounds of the Academy (which has many large deciduous trees), and are known there as “yard dogs”; we’ve seen them here before at WEIT. There are also cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus) on “the Yard” (as the grounds of the Academy are called), and I call them “yard cats”. I asked an Academy grad if the rabbits are indeed called yard cats, and she replied, “If not they should be!”

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History has a Pinterest page for Squirrel Week, although I can’t tell when the page dates from; they also have an authoritative guide to all 80+ species of North American squirrels. For Squirrel Week 2013, Kelly interviewed the Smithsonian’s Richard Thorington, who gave him a tour of the “Squirrel Range” at the USNM. I tried to embed the video, but failed. JAC: click on the screenshot below to go to this biologically informative tour of squirrels:

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 3.50.12 PM

I was able to embed one of the 2013 Squirrel Week videos, in which the video reporter interviews John Kelly.