SUMMARY: Learned some stuff.
After seeing Change is Hard's photo of a squirrel (likely Eastern Gray) and reading the comments, I did a little reading of my own. Particularly because, as the roommate of many dogs who have taken a great interest in squirrels that run across the dog's personal fences, I want to know more!
We have quite a few black color variants on gray squirrels here. They seem to appear in waves; some years I see lots, other years, none. I don't seem to have any photos of the black ones, so here's a gratuitous Gray on a random palm tree.
Interesting that the Wikipedia post on Eastern Gray Squirrels mentions the variants: --
"Particularly in urban situations where the risk of predation is reduced, both white – and black-colored individuals are quite often found. The melanistic form, which is almost entirely black, is predominant in certain populations and in certain geographic areas, such as in large parts of southeastern Canada. Genetic variations within these include individuals with black tails and black-colored squirrels with white tails. (See Tree squirrel for more information on these color variations.)"But the post on our Western Gray Squirrels doesn't mention the variants.
So I searched farther afield, and, wow, ok, I didn't know any of this:
"Three species of tree squirrels live in the Bay Area: the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus Carolinensis), the Eastern Fox Squirrel (Sciurus Niger), and the Western Gray Squirrel (Sciurus Griseus). Of these three, only the Western Gray Squirrel is a California native, and its status is of concern to naturalists."So, likely, the blacks that we see here could be invasive Eastern Grays!
The things I learn in the blogosphere. (And makes me feel even worse each time Luke--er, Zorro--brings another squirrel in. I don't know whether I'd know the difference between species, though, and if, as the article says, the Westerns avoid people more, then maybe we're OK. Sort of.)
Soooooo moving along to other topics. Tomorrow: A sweet heartbreaker for Boost.