Ground squirrels in Belarus, video


This video is about ground squirrels in Belarus; while a skylark sings.

White ‘red’ squirrel video


This 9 September 2019 video shows a red squirrel which is not red but white; probably because of leucism.

The video is from the garden of the Grafhorst family in Ommen in Overijssel province in the Netherlands.

Squirrels listen to birds for safety


This 2013 video from the USA is called An Eastern Gray Squirrel eating birdseed.

From PLOS:

Squirrels listen in to birds’ conversations as signal of safety

Hearing casual chatter of birds after predator call reassures squirrels to come off high alert

September 4, 2019

Grey squirrels eavesdrop on the chatter between nearby songbirds as a sign of safety. Birds chatter when they feel safe to communicate the absence of danger or share their location. This “chatter” from multiple bird species could therefore be a useful cue to other creatures that there is no imminent threat.

To test this hypothesis, the researchers observed the behavior of 54 wild Eastern gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) in public parks and residential areas in Ohio in response to threat, which they simulated by playing back a recording of the call of a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), a common predator of both squirrels and small birds. They followed the predator’s call with a playback of either multi-species songbird bird chatter or ambient sounds lacking bird calls and monitored the behavior of each squirrel for 3 minutes.

The researchers found that all squirrels showed an increase in predator vigilance behaviors, such as freezing, looking up, or fleeing, after they heard the hawk’s call. However, squirrels that were played bird chatter afterwards performed fewer vigilance behaviors and returned to normal levels of watchfulness more quickly than squirrels that did not hear bird calls after the hawk’s call. This suggests that the squirrels are able to tap into the casual chatter of many bird species as an indicator of safety, allowing them to quickly return to getting on with normal behaviors like foraging rather than remaining on high alert after a threat has passed.

The authors add: “We knew that squirrels eavesdropped on the alarm calls of some bird species, but we were excited to find that they also eavesdrop on non-alarm sounds that indicate the birds feel relatively safe. Perhaps in some circumstances, cues of safety could be as important as cues of danger.”

Beavers, crucial for biodiversity, against flooding


This 20214 BBC TV video from Britain says about itself:

Beavers Help Prevent Flooding

Beaver & rewilding have the answer to the UK’s flooding prover who.

As rivers across the UK are bursting their banks, another media storm has broken over who is responsible. Many farmers have come out attacking the lack of drainage and flood defences along rivers. But river scientists and ecological experts are pointing out that there is a deeper problem in our river catchments, which means putting in flood defence and dredging rivers could end up in catastrophic flooding further downstream, and a tragedy could unfold that could threaten human life.

Changes in farming and land use now means there is little flood plain left along our rivers, so there is nowhere for the water to go, this combined with a massive increase of drainage of farmland in river catchments means water now gushes off land into the rivers.

One of the best and cheapest answers is to reintroduce natural wetland species such as European beaver and wild horses to the UK and allow the natural restoration of nature’s own flood defences like the initiatives currently run by the Wildwood Trust near Canterbury.

The wetlands of Britain used to act as a giant sponge, soaking up rainfall and releasing it slowly into our rivers, protecting us from catastrophic flooding.

In recent times we have spent an increasing amount of money to destroy our wetlands, to build and maintain a massive system of drains at the taxpayer’s expense. The cruel irony is that ‘flood defences’ only make the problem worse further down the river. Planning has also encouraged the building of more and more housing on flood plains which then, in turn, need to be defended from inevitable flooding.

Successive governments have channeled hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money every year into agricultural subsidies and ‘drainage’ works that are directly responsible for the catastrophic flooding seen over the last few weeks.

Wildwood’s five point plan to save the taxpayer money and prevent catastrophic flooding in our towns & villages:

1. Rewild marginal farmland, uplands and floodplain. Just as many European countries have seen catastrophic flooding they have rewilded areas that act a giant sponges soaking up flood waters

2. Stop agricultural subsidy of marginal farmland so it can be returned to the wild & save the taxpayer billions of pounds

3. Return beavers and use natural wetland managers like wild horses to maintain our wetlands at no cost to taxpayers

4. Create natural wetland networks in urban areas to act as flood stores

5. Shift taxes off of earned incomes and onto land values and natural resources to make it economically feasible to revert marginal farmland back to natural areas.

Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust Chief Executive said:

Along the Rhine in the Netherlands and Germany they have already addressed this issue by re-creating wetlands, while at the same time providing safety for homes and communities.”

“It took the death of school children in a catastrophic flood event to shock the Dutch authorities to really tackle flooding on the Rhine; one of their answers was to stop farming on flood plain and to create a giant natural wetland, managed by wild horses, to prevent this tragedy from happening again.”

“When will Britain wake up and see that we need to tackle the root cause of the flooding problem and stop the squabbling by selfish vested interests only interested in getting the benefit of ever more taxpayers’ money or campaigning for flood waters to be rushed on further downstream to flood someone else’s house.”

“We have created a perverse system of agricultural subsidies and drainage systems that guarantee we will see flooding getting worse, and that system is using taxpayers’ money to destroy wildlife and the wild places that have been our natural flood defence system.”

“With no wetlands, trees or undeveloped flood plains to stop this water, it rushes off fields into drainage systems, maintained at the taxpayers’ expense, and is funnelled into rivers where it creates the devastating problems witnessed this winter.”

“We must stop wasting money on drainage schemes, agricultural subsidies and building in flood plains but rather spend, far less, taxpayers’ money on re-establishing natural wetlands.”

“This can be achieved for a fraction of cost that taxpayers are already incurring, save us billions in the future and will create a carbon sink to help neutralise climate change and give our future generations a natural heritage to be proud of.”

From the University of Stirling in Scotland:

Beaver reintroduction key to solving freshwater biodiversity crisis

August 26, 2019

Reintroducing beavers to their native habitat is an important step towards solving the freshwater biodiversity crisis, according to experts at the University of Stirling.

New research from the Faculty of Natural Sciences has provided further support to previous work that has shown beavers have an important impact on the variety of plant and animal life.

The latest study, led by Dr Alan Law and Professor Nigel Willby, found that the number of species only found in beaver-built ponds was 50 percent higher than other wetlands in the same region.

Dr Law, Lecturer in Biological and Environmental Sciences, said: “Beavers make ponds that, at first glance, are not much different from any other pond. However, we found that the biodiversity — predominantly water plants and beetles — in beaver ponds was greater than and surprisingly different from that found in other wetlands in the same region.

“Our results also emphasise the importance of natural disturbance by big herbivores — in this case, tree felling, grazing and digging of canals by beavers — in creating habitat for species which otherwise tend to be lost.

“Reintroducing beavers where they were once native should benefit wider biodiversity and should be seen as an important and bold step towards solving the freshwater biodiversity crisis.”

Beavers are one of the only animals that can profoundly engineer the environment that they live in — using sticks to build dams across small rivers, behind which ponds form. Beavers do this to raise water levels to avoid predators, such as wolves and bears: however, numerous other plants and animals also benefit from their work.

The research team surveyed water plants and beetles in 20 wetlands in a small area of southern Sweden — 10 created by beavers and 10 that were not — to understand whether beavers might provide a solution to the current biodiversity crisis by creating novel habitats.

Professor Willby added: “The loss of large mammals from modern landscapes is a global conservation concern. These animals are important in their own right, but our research emphasises the added biodiversity benefits that go with them.

“We are best reminded of this effect when large herbivores, such as beavers, are reintroduced to places where they have been lost.”

This research follows the team’s 2018 study that found that 33 percent more plant species and 26 percent more beetles were living in wetlands created by beavers, compared to those that were not. Another previous study, from 2017, showed that — over a period of 12 years — local plant richness in a Tayside wetland rose by 46 percent following the introduction of beavers. They created 195 metres of dams, 500 metres of canals and a hectare of ponds.

Common basilisk, variegated squirrel quarrel in Panama


This video from Panama says about itself:

Common Basilisk Takes Food From Variegated Squirrel – Aug 16, 2019

A Variegated Squirrel and a Common Basilisk were eating at the feeder in relative peace until the basilisk decided that it wanted the exact piece of fruit the squirrel was eating.

I saw both species in Costa Rica.

New flying squirrel species discovery in China


This 2015 video from the USA about southern flying squirrels says about itself:

The Cutest Flying Rodent | Super Squirrel

Wait until you see just how adorable this flying squirrel is – and how far it can glide!

From ScienceDaily:

New species of flying squirrel from Southwest China added to the rarest and ‘most wanted’

July 18, 2019

Described in 1981, the genus Biswamoyopterus is regarded as the most mysterious and rarest amongst all flying squirrels. It comprises two large (1.4-1.8 kg) species endemic to southern Asia: the Namdapha flying squirrel (India) and the Laotian giant flying squirrel (Lao PDR). Each is only known from a single specimen discovered in 1981 and 2013, respectively.

Recently, in 2018, a specimen identifiable as Biswamoyopterus was unexpectedly found in the collections of the Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ), Chinese Academy of Sciences by in-house expert Quan Li. It had been collected from Mount Gaoligong in Yunnan Province, Southwest China.

Initially, the individual was considered to belong to the “missing” Namdapha flying squirrel: a species considered as critically endangered due to hunting and habitat loss. The latter had not ever been recorded since its original description in 1981 and was already listed as one of the top 25 “most wanted” species in the world by the Global Wildlife Conservation.

However, a closer look at the specimen from KIZ made it clear that the squirrel exhibited a colouration, as well as skull and teeth anatomy, distinct from any of the previously known species in the genus.

Subsequently, joined by his colleagues from China (Xuelong Jiang, Xueyou Li, Fei Li, Ming Jiang, Wei Zhao and Wenyu Song) and Stephen Jackson from Australia, the team of Quan Li conducted a new field survey. Thus, they successfully obtained another specimen and, additionally, recorded observations of two other flying squirrels. As a result, they included a third member to the enigmatic genus: Biswamoyopterus gaoligongensis, also referred to as the Mount Gaoligong flying squirrel. This new to science species was described in a paper published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

“The morphological features of B. gaoligongensis are closer to the critically endangered and missing Namdapha flying squirrel, but is still readily identifiable as a distinct species,” explains Quan Li.

“The new species was discovered in the ‘blank area’ spanning 1,250 km between the isolated habitats of the two known species, which suggests that the genus is much more widespread than previously thought. There is still hope for new Biswamoyopterus populations to be discovered in between or right next to the already known localities,” he says.

As for the conservation status of the newly described species, the researchers note that it inhabits low-altitude forests which are in close proximity to nearby human settlements. Thereby, they are vulnerable to anthropogenic threats, such as agricultural reclamation and poaching.

“Therefore, there is an urgent need to study the ecology, distribution, and conservation status of this rare and very beautiful genus,” concludes the lead author.

Grand Canyon woodpeckers defend food against squirrel


This 18 June 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

In the Grand Canyon, woodpeckers store their food in hollowed out holes in trees, but when a squirrel tries to steal the supply – they defend their stockpile.