Grey Squirrels and Redwoods
We received the following email from George Hollister dated 2th June 2013:
“I saw the article by about the debarking of redwood trees in 2010 and 2011 by P.F. Whitehead (Worcestershire Record 32 ). I am from the redwood region in California, and grow redwood timber.
The specific debarking in the photo is unusual. Grey squirrels utilize the outer bark of redwood trees for nesting material. And it is possible that a large number of grey squirrels took advantage of the two trees since possibly no other trees were available?
More problematic than the use of the outer bark is when grey squirrels strip the bark down to the cambium to access the sugar. In my experience this happens in May, and often results in the death of the portion of the tree above where the bark is stripped. Redwood trees living alongside grey squirrels that have dead tops is a common occurrence in Mendocino County, California.
Comptche, CA 95427”
Paul Whitehead commented:
“I found George Hollister's observations interesting; it never occurred to me that a reader in California might have encountered this in the wild. His observations add to the interest of the piece because they illustrate convergent behaviour in different regions occurring independently of each other. There cannot be too many opportunities for Grey Squirrels to coexist with Redwoods in Britain and at the few sites I can recall (e.g. Leighton Hall) the trees haven't been subjected to this damage.
Elsewhere in Evesham where mature Redwoods still exist there has been no sign of any squirrel debarking and the one Redwood in this parish (Little Comberton) has never been affected.”
Whitehead, P. F. 2012. Grey squirrels Sciurus carolinensis Gmelin debarking a mature Coast Redwood Sequioa sempervirens Endlicher in Evesham town, Worcestershire during the 2010-2011 winter. Worcestershire Record 32:20.