Red Squirrel eating seeds from a spruce cone

  • Seeds of Sitka spruce are small, averaging 210,000 per pound. Seeds ripen in southeast Alaska during late August or early September, and dispersal usually begins in October.
  • The seeds of Sitka spruce are a favorite food of red squirrels.
  • This video shows a red squirrel extracting and eating the tiny seeds from a Sitka spruce cone.
  • Each seed has an outer covering that the squirrel removes before eating the seed.
  • This squirrel puts the seed with its covering on top of the cone it is holding (actually it is the bottom of the cone)
  • It then extracts the seed from its covering before eating it.
  • Usually a squirrel can extract and eat all the seeds from a spruce cone in around 3.5 minutes. This one took a little longer because it wanted to show us its technique.
  • Why do red squirrels go to all this trouble to extract and eat these tiny seeds?
  • Specific caloric value of spruce seed kernels averages about 27 kJ/g dry weight so I suspect eating a large number of these seeds provides them with sufficient calories.
  • To see what a Sitka spruce seed looks like up close and its size go to photos and in the search box type spruce seeds.

Red Squirrel eating seeds from a spruce cone from Bob Armstrong on Vimeo.

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