Douglas’ Tree Squirrel

The Douglas’ tree squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) is a denizen of coniferous forests in the Coast Range and Sierra Nevada of California and the Cascades of Oregon and Washington.

This western form of the red squirrel has a dusky olive upper side and yellowish white underparts separated on the sides by a dark stripe. Its tail hairs are tipped with white. In the winter the ears of the Douglas’ tree squirrel are tipped with long hairs.

Also called a chickaree or pine squirrel, the Douglas’ tree squirrel eats pine seeds. It will sit and hold a cone in its “hands”, pulling off the scales one at a time to get to the seeds until only the cone core remains.

Douglas’ tree squirrels cache pine cones for the winter beside logs or under rocks near its home. It will cut off green pine cones or branches containing cones and drop them to the ground. The Douglas’ tree squirrel will then rush from the treetops and add the cones to its winter stash. It is fun to watch this little guy at work.

Active throughout the winter, Douglas’ tree squirrels have a small home range that includes only a few trees. After a snowfall it is easy to figure out their territories by following trails and tracks between the trees.

This Douglas’ tree squirrel was photographed near the Merrill Campground at Eagle Lake (Lassen County CA).

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