Arizona grey squirrel

Grey squirrel love song

In late May, 2011, I headed out to Apache Creek, New Mexico, to see out some petroglyphs (a hobby of mine). With me was a one-year-old English Shepherd that I adopted from a rescue agency just 2 months before, and this was his first camping trip.  We arrived at the campground at Apache Creek in late afternoon, and after setting up camp, we hiked up to the rocky escarpment to check out the rock art.

After dinner, we headed over to a beaver pond at the west side of the campground to set up the recorder.  It looked very active, so I hoped to get some beaver sounds.  I set up the recorder near the outflow from the dam, and took Shadow about 50 feet downstream, where we sat on a high bank overlooking a dense patch of willows.  As darkness fell, and elk began to move from the forest to the meadows, suddenly Shadow gave a quick “woof.”  He was staring at something in the willows.  With the dim light, it was hard to make anything out, but finally some movement revealed a cow elk, with only her head showing.  Shadow seemed to be convinced that she was some kind of disembodied monster.  Soon she got our scent, and issued her own bark, and Shadow jumped behind me, keeping an eye on the monster over my shoulder.  After a few more minutes, we got up and retrieved the recorder, and headed back to camp, Shadow all too eager to get away from the scary willow patch.

Mammals are much harder to record than birds, so I was quite pleased to get 4 different mammals on the recording (not counting Shadow).  In addition to the barking elk, I got a few beaver splashes, and an Arizona grey squirrel giving its mating call.  If you listen carefully (probably need headphones), near the end of this short recording, you can hear a faint splash of a beaver, and a distant howl, which I think may be a Mexican grey wolf.  This snippet of the recording does not include the elk bark.  The sorrowful descending note and the coughing sound is the gray squirrel.

Arizona grey squirrels (Sciurus arizonensis) are found in the mountains of southeastern Arizona and along the Mogollon rim in Arizona and western New Mexico.  I have also seen them near the Gila Cliff Dwellings.  According to Donald Hoffmeister (Mammals of Arizona), morphometrically, they appear to be more closely related to fox squirrels than grey squirrels.  However, their voice to me sounds more like an eastern or western grey squirrel.  They tend to be quieter than other tree squirrels, and shy, so they are not often seen nor heard.

Recording notes:  Recorded with Zoom H4n.

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