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Summer is Short and Sweet: Columbian Ground Squirrels

March 21, 2013

Columbian Ground Squirrels seem common in the Kootenays: common wherever they are able to dig burrows in well-drained soil. I have always been amazed how short summer is for these hibernators. I see them as soon as there is any green browse available in April until most vegetation dries in fall – around August or so. A very short time to eat, mate, reproduce, grow and fatten up for hibernation.

Most people curse ground squirrels rather than marveling at them, I suppose. I guess if I had a vast expanse of green lawn peppered with holes, mounds and squeaking ground squirrels, I might be peeved too. Especially if I had livestock likely to step in holes and break a leg. Ground Squirrels live in colonies and they and their burrows can spread very quickly throughout an area.

I do find them interesting, however. They resemble small, squeaking posts as you approach and then with a flick of the tail they disappear into their burrow. Coyotes, dogs and badgers are expert at digging up ground squirrel burrows. The most successful burrows have at least a portion located among rocks or other hard-to-dig objects. Ground Squirrels are a favourite food of raptors and owls as well. They have different calls to warn about different predators. Some predators are more dangerous than others. I imagine a Cooper’s Hawk hunting a young ground squirrel is more dangerous than that small dog that is annoying but comparatively easy to avoid.

The ground squirrels have yet to make their appearance. But in a little under a month the world will be green again. And along with all that lush green vegetation there will be ground squirrels: out to eat, raise young and survive for another season.

colonizing a new dandelion patch

colonizing a new dandelion patch

keeping an eye on the situation

keeping an eye on the situation: the little post

Three young Columbian Ground Squirrels outside the burrow

Three young Columbian Ground Squirrels outside the burrow

the lookout

the lookout

browsing

browsing

dandelions may be an invasive, but they sure do taste good!

dandelions may be an invasive, but they sure do taste good!

should I go or should I stay?

should I go or should I stay?

all writing and photos on this blog copyright Joanne Siderius 2013.

2 Comments
  1. Love the “lookout” and the “little post”. More great pics :o)

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