Flying squirrels: How to find?

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J-Miz
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Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by J-Miz » February 26th, 2012, 9:25 am

I live within the range of the Southern Flying Squirrel, and despite hearing that they are quite common (some even say VERY common) I have never seen one. I am aware that they are nocturnal, unlike our other squirrels, which is one of the reasons I've never found one. I have heard that you might get one to poke its head out of its tree hollow if you bang sticks against trees with holes drilled by Pileated Woodpeckers. And if you live in a forested area, spreading peanut butter along the trunks and shining them with a spotlight at night might reveal a squirrel or two.

I found this tree while doing a tree ID hike the other day. I didn't hit it with a stick...but I might go back.

Image

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Jeremy Westerman
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by Jeremy Westerman » February 26th, 2012, 9:43 am

I have great success seeing flying squirrels, northern flickers, and other woodpeckers by tapping gently not banging, and keeping up a little tempo like a drum solo or something. eventually they get curious if you are patient. however just because you knock does't mean they are home. Or they think you are bible salesman or over priced girl scout cookies.

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Andy Avram
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by Andy Avram » February 26th, 2012, 10:04 am

The first time I tried hitting a tree with a stick was the one and only time it worked for me. Saw my first two Flying Squirrels in that tree. I was also camping in PA once and my friend and I had separate "pee trees" and we realized that every night a pair Flying Squirrels came down to drink out urine.

Other than that I usually see them incidentally while hiking in the woods. Usually early morning or near evening, but I have seen them at all times of the day.

Andy

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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by stlouisdude » February 26th, 2012, 10:46 am

They can have 9 or so homes over a large area. I've found them by going out at night with flashlight and even saw one from my car. They are fairly common even in cities, or at least common in St. Louis, anywhere with parks that have big trees. Another way to see them would be to ask a local birding group if any have them in their bird houses or at their feeders. If so, they may be kind enough to let you come over and observe. Also, I would see about small mammal or trapping surveys in your area that you might get involved in.

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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by J-Miz » February 26th, 2012, 11:15 am

Thanks, all.

Andy- When you observed them during the daylight hours, what were they doing? Scurrying across a tree trunk? High, low...? The amount of time I've spent birding over all these years, I am surprised I've never seen one. Do you remember what type of tree it was that you had success with?

stlouisdude- A good reminder...I was going to ask if anybody finds them hibernating in birdhouses, wood duck nest boxes, etc. I've heard they often do.

Another question: Would hitting trunks with a stick likely to be productive NOW, still late February? I understand they hibernate...but am wondering how much they wake/forage on warmer days in the winter...and when they normally start becoming more active again.

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Warren
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by Warren » February 26th, 2012, 11:35 am

I have caught Northerns in a live trap with peanut butter. It is pretty cool opening the door and seeing them fly away!

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Andy Avram
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by Andy Avram » February 26th, 2012, 12:14 pm

Jared, I have seen a few at daybreak returning to their home tree. I think the presence of appropriate holes is more important than tree species. The one day break one was in an apple tree, the ones we found by knocking was in a dead tree, I saw one in mid-day during ornithology class in college as it ran down a branch on a maple tree and then glided to it's hole on the trunk, I have seen them on oak trees... The last one I saw was the baby I posted. It came from the ground and was running around the fallen logs. I don't think it was supposed to be out, I could have easily grabbed it.

Also, they don't hibernate, but will den up, with other individuals, in the really cold weather. I actually wish I could target and find Flying Squirrels better, but like I said it is usually an incidental sighting.

Andy

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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by hellihooks » February 26th, 2012, 1:18 pm

Set out treats for Moose. Squirrel never far from moose. Boris/Natasha... :D :lol: :lol: jim

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Curtis Hart
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by Curtis Hart » February 26th, 2012, 2:58 pm

I see Southern Flying Squirrels a few times a year normally. I have only seen them at night, by spotlighting. They hate white light, so a red filter could be helpful. Usually I see them in campgrounds, empty National Forest type campgrounds. I have seen one at Pine Hills campground, the place people normally camp for Snake Road.

This has only worked once, but there was a night where I could hear them calling and tracked down two different squirrels by sound. That was at Fontainebleau State Park in Louisiana. There were also Armadillos and Swamp Rabbits about.

Internationally, some of the giant flying squirrels are quite easy to spotlight, and commonly seen at places like Khao Yai in Thailand, Taman Negara in Malaysia, Danum Valley in Borneo, or Halimun NP, in Java.


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ImageThis guy was on the back of a billboard in FL.

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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by Coluber Constrictor » February 26th, 2012, 4:02 pm

I have occasionaly found dead flying squirrels in my neighborhood after big storms. It's been a long time since I've seen one. I don't think I've ever seen a live one.

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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by rtdunham » February 26th, 2012, 4:22 pm

They show up regularly on the bird feeders at the lodge at Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky. You can usually watch them swoop in from higher up in nearby trees. When alarmed they "hide" on the backside of the feeders but leave their tails sticking up in plain sight, like a flag.

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rtdunham
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like this

Post by rtdunham » February 26th, 2012, 4:31 pm

disturbed, they'll dart to the back of the bird feeder and "hide" with less than total success. They'll hold this confident pose for minutes.

Image

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jonathan
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by jonathan » March 1st, 2012, 6:59 am

I was on a boy scout trip when a fellow scout, just banging on the side of a dead tree for fun, managed to cause one to shoot out of its hole and look wildly around trying to figure out what was going on.

I've also seen a cat carry one into the house, sadly. Don't know where it found it.

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pete
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by pete » March 1st, 2012, 3:58 pm

posted this before..but this was the last place i expected to see one
Image
apparently it came down the septic breather pipe and took a left turn into my roommates toilet. in the middle of the night she had to use said toilet and realized something was swimming in the bowl she was using. she had the presence to take its picture before she tried to rescue it. she took an aquarium net and tried to scoop it from the bowl. the squirrel launched out of the toilet and on to her leg. that is when the scream woke me up :lol: both were rescued and a screen placed over the breather pipe.

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Hans Breuer (twoton)
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » March 1st, 2012, 4:34 pm

I don't know about American flying squrls, but my experience in Taiwan and Borneo tells me that you can find them quite easily by their eye shine.

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Curtis Hart
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by Curtis Hart » March 7th, 2012, 5:27 pm

I saw a Southern Flying Squirrel 2 nights ago that was a pretty typical experience for me. I was camped at the free campground in SOIL, the one NE of Devil's Backbone, Turkey Bayou. The campground was empty and I was sitting next to a decent fire having a beer or 9. I first heard it on a tree about 25 ft away. I saw it well as it fled up the tree. I saw it 3 or 4 more times in various trees around me until a Barred Owl ended it's prowling around my camp, I'm not sure it got it, but I never saw it again. Daytime high was in the 50's low of 39 F.
If you haven't seen one before, remember they are very small and very quick. They have a very different movement pattern than any of the diurnal squirrels. They do have an eyeshine, but I have never seen it from a distance. Most SFS I have seen have been at 50' max. You can see them glide occasionally, but they are quick and you're not always sure you actually saw something.
If you haven't seen one, I would advise finding an empty campground in the early spring, when there are no leaves, and sitting up. I would advise only 1 or 2 people, so you're not distracted.
Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:I don't know about American flying squrls, but my experience in Taiwan and Borneo tells me that you can find them quite easily by their eye shine.
This very true, but does not apply to American flying squirrels in my experience. The SE Asian species are much easier to find and observe and are very slow in comparison to their much smaller American counterparts.



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Warren
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by Warren » March 7th, 2012, 6:13 pm

Pretty interesting conversation!
Just want to say I'm really enjoying the mammal forum, and thank you to everyone who has posted!
:D

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Andy Avram
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by Andy Avram » March 10th, 2012, 4:31 pm

John, my dad has a similar picture from his house and his game camera, except the feeder is in the foreground and a deer is also in the picture.

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Tim Borski
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Re: Flying squirrels: How to find?

Post by Tim Borski » March 27th, 2012, 5:34 pm

I'm in the tree tapping group and have seen as many as 11 come out of a single hole in a dead snag. (I've actually seen 5 or more out of one hole several times in central WI.)

Walk mature hardwoods looking for holes. (Remember, they're small and don't need much.)
I've always used a stick but Im sure a 2" dowel a couple feet long would work great. A firm tap, tap, tap...pause...tap, tap, tap will typically get one (or more) to poke heads out in curiosity(?) but not enough to get them spiraling up the tree and launching to another nearby.
If nothing shows after about six "taps" move on to another tree.

Helpful hint: I've tapped plenty out of trees that no hole was readily visible. I just happened to be near or passing by and did it reflexively.

I'm sure you'll find them easily as they are far more common in many areas than they seem.

Good luck and let us know how you make out!

Tim

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