Monday, March 11, 2013

Faunal ranges

I was in northern Vermont, specifically a semi-rural area near Burlington, for the past three days. I thought I would post here but ended up getting distracted. Anyway . . .

The fauna there is little different from here, with two major exceptions that I know of. One is the red squirrels, which we don't have here, as far as I've ever seen, even though Wikipedia claims otherwise. In my youth I noticed that the pine woods in Maine had almost exclusively red squirrels, whereas all I've ever seen in Connecticut are gray. Further south, in the D.C. area, you'll see black ones, which if I'm not mistaken (easy enough to look it up but I don't want to pretend omniscience about these matters) are actually a different color regime of the same species as the gray. If I'm wrong, let me know.

The red ones are a different species, however. They're smaller, territorial (unlike the grays that will be seen in numbers at times), and specialize on conifer seeds. I happen to have a large patch of pine on my property, but it doesn't harbor any red squirrels that I'm aware of. For whatever reason, they seem to be more prevalent farther north. I have occasionally seen gray squirrels with a touch of red on their tails and sides, however. I wonder if they're capable of hybridizing after all, or if this is just a variation?

The second big differences is moose (mooses?). They used to come this far south in winter, which is why a nearby town is called Moosup. (Really. That's where the moose turned and went back up in early spring.) But they never make it south of Massachusetts any more. I have no idea why. Oh wait a minute, could it have something to do with the climate?

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