I thought about these the other day. There aren't many critters who visit a bird feeder in the night.
When in Muskoka, on cold February night in 2009, I realized that Sadie cat was sitting staring at the bird feeder in the dark. She'd get up and down off of the bench beside the bird feeder.Then, her head would bob up and down. I thought she'd flipped! I didn't know what it was, at all. After some research, I realized that they were flying squirrels. There were two. It took some time to figure out how to video it (see below), in the dark, and it's not a great video, but it does show you how they bop up and down, like little hoppy rabbits!
I did some more research, just for my own curiosity.
There are two species on this continent: Northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) and Southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus). The Northern inhabit all of Canada, right up to the Yukon, as well as Alaska. The Southern can be found in the Eastern part of the continent, from Florida up to Michigan.
They are about the size of a red squirrel, about a foot long including the tail, with lovely fur flaps or membranes that allow them to glide. No, they don't fly, but they can steer with their flaps, up to 50m diagonally from a tree to the ground, able to make turns.
They have scent glands in their cheeks, to help them find their way, and they live in tree hollows of one sort or another. Nesting materials, like many tree rats, includes soft, cozy mosses and shredded tree bark.
The are omnivores, eating just about anything in season: berries, lichen, fungi, insects, worms, slugs, bird's eggs, tree buds and even sap. There are horror stories of them drowning in open sap buckets.
Predators include similarly nocturnal owls, of course, as well as other tree climbers such as weasels, fishers, and snakes.
As with many species, of both flora and fauna, they are believed to have been impacted by both Climate Change and Habitat Loss. Scientists have found that the Northern and the Southerners have crossed paths, and some research shows that about 5% of the study population had mixed genes.
Now, you know governments, and lobby groups. They are arguing about what to call the mixed breed. The US National Flying Squirrel Association, wants it to be more American, according to the 72-year-old co-founder.
According to an October article...Southern Flying Squirrels Land in Canada