Sunday, March 29, 2009

Nature Quiz of the Week 25

I'll be camping for the next few days, so if you leave comments or questions (please do), I won't be likely to respond until I get back.

Setting: Middle of April last year in Sitka, Alaska.

1. What are these?

This is scat on top of a midden pile of cones.

2. What two species (not in the same kingdom) are represented? (I imagine this will be a much easier question if you have a knowledge of what's around Sitka. Field guides are handy if you don't have personal experience.)

The scat is from a red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), the cone parts are from a Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis).

The Sitka area has a conveniently limited species list in both mammals and trees. From what I've seen, Sitka Spruce cones are some of the favorite foods of red squirrels there, at least of foods that leave large piles of refuse after consumption. Also, the scales of other cone bearing trees there look quite different. And while other small mammals may eat spruce cones there, I don't think there are any that leave middens like this.

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