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Red squirrels here spend most of the winter hibernating but they do come out every couple of weeks on warmer, sunny days to find food. They've been around every day for the last 10 days or so, so it looks like they're finished hibernating for the winter. The second photo of it's tail (as it disappeared around the back of the tree) gives a good idea of why they are called "red" squirrels.
Spotted on Mar 12, 2011
Submitted on Mar 12, 2011
That makes a lot of sense. Even in Aroostock it gets a lot colder than here by the ocean so it must be fierce at times up your way! They are skilled, energetic stashers so maybe make an effort to keep enough food close at hand so they don't have to go out.
Actually, you're right. I checked my guide book (Lone Pine Mammals of Ontario) and it says that they stay awake but inside their next when it gets cold (below -25C/-13F) which it does frequently here. Still, we rarely see them in January and February so I think they might have food caches near or in the nests.
Could be our red squirrels have different habits in Maine? We have two in our wood pile who have been very active all winter and the Audubon guide to New England says they are active year 'round. Also one of their main sources of food is white pine cones so I think they like mixed woods. Often we find piles of cone parts that have been stripped of their nuts which are apparently stashed in various places for winter.