North American Flying Squirrels, etc.

If you are ever in the Washington, DC area in winter, the Long Branch Nature Center here in Arlington has a Southern Flying Squirrel program that is pretty cool.  The squirrels come to a feeder on the deck. They have a one hour talk, which is mostly for kids, and ask for a $3 donation, but you can skip those and just show up around dusk.

The squirrels blam into the tree and immediately race around to the other side, scoot down to get a nut, then race up the tree and launch themselves into the air. They have a high cute factor and it is easy to stand there for an hour watching them.

I am wondering if anyone knows of a public place where Northern Flying Squirrels come to a feeder. I have had no luck  finding them in the wild where I have been in their range.

I am also wondering if anyone knows of a good place for Snowshoe Hares in the eastern US. I know they are abundant in places, I just don’t know where those places are.

I’d like to make a trip north before the winter sets in, trying for those two species is a good reason to go.

Thanks in advance,


  1. vladimir dinets 12 years ago

    Snowshoe hares are common (at least in some years) on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. I am pretty sure other high mountains in NH, MS and VT are also good.

    NFS is much more difficult to see than SFS, I’ve never had a good look in the East, and not for the lack of trying. In the West, Tuolumne Grove in Yosemite is about 50% reliable if you are willing to devote an entire night to it.

    Do you think those SFSs in Arlington would be there in November?

  2. John Fox 12 years ago


    Thanks for the Snowshoe info, I’ll look at trips up there.

    I’ll call Long Branch tomorrow and see what the deal is. We are currently in an Indian Summer with temps in the 80’s but that should break soon and winter temps will be in. Will let you know what they say.

    I always think of that photo of yours with the FS crossing the moon. What an incredible, wonderful shot!


    • vladimir dinets 12 years ago

      Thank you.
      That was easier than it looks. The squirrel would always leave its nest in a tree hollow in exactly the same way, so all I had to do was position myself in the right place. And it’s a video frame, not a photo.

  3. John Fox 12 years ago

    I went by Long Branch and talked to the guy who does the program. They plan on doing it every Saturday night from late December through March. But he also said he hears them every night when he’s leaving. The last two years have had good mast production and he feels the population is pretty strong right now. A person could always go by there at dusk and see what they can. I don’t imagine putting a few nuts on the feeder boxes would hurt anything.


  4. Coke Smith 12 years ago

    I’ve seen Northern Flying from my old front porch a couple times in Washington state but by no means were they common. They are seen from time to time in Rainier NP but again that is hit and miss at best. I hope someone posts something that would be a good place for a future photo trip next time I am in the states…

    • John Fox 12 years ago


      Yeah, Jon Hall lucked into a couple at the campground down from Paradise at Mt. Ranier NP. I went to the campground twice when I was there in August but couldn’t turn one up. It seems that looking up into an evergreen forest at night is an exercise in frustration!

      The people at the Alaska Birding Center (or the like) in Fairbanks said Flying Squirrels come to their feeders at night, but I obviously dipped on them. It is unclear to me how nocturnal mammals behave at high latitudes. Night was about four hours long when I was there and there is a period when the sun never sets. I figure that they have to eat and so are probably active during daylight hours, too. ???


  5. Morgan Churchill 12 years ago

    This is great info, as I will actually be in D.C. in January and will have a weekend there. Any idea how far this is away from the mall area, where I will be staying?

    • John Fox 12 years ago


      It’s maybe 6 miles. If you have a car just go west on Constitution Ave, which is Rt 50, make a left on Carlin Springs Rd, the address is 625 S Carlin Springs Rd. The driveway in runs beside an office building and can be a little confusing but there is a sign for the nature center.

      Anyone can get in touch with me if they visit, if I’m in town I’ll make an effort to help out. I live about 5 minutes from the mall, and Arlington is a pretty small place.

      • Morgan Churchill 12 years ago

        If your going to be around by chance on January 8th, I wouldn’t mind the help. I will be in DC the weeks before and after for work.

  6. John Fox 12 years ago


    I don’t have any trips planned for Jan 8. Why don’t you give me a call, 703-624-5997. I look forward to swapping stories.


    • Gerald Broddelez 11 years ago

      Hi John, I ll be in Dc around aug 19/20 to soon for the Squirrels I guess? Are there any good mammal areas nearby DC?
      Many thanks Gerald Broddelez
      Pls reply to

      • John Fox 11 years ago

        Hi Gerald

        Thought it would be more useful to reply here.

        We could always go by and smear some peanut butter on the tree, and see what happens. It’s not very far, and I haven’t gotten tired of seeing them yet.

        You probably have all the usual Eastern US stuff. I found three White-footed Deermice in my yard last month, but I cleaned up the brush pile they were using. They were coming to sunflower seeds really well, I’ll try and relocate them if you need them.

        I found an Allegheny Woodrat and an Appalachian Cottontail at a place about an hour and a half away. I wouldn’t mind running out there again, but it would mean getting back at 11 pm or later. If you’d rather be independent or for anyone interested, they were at a place called Woodstock Tower, a google search will turn it up; about 40 feet before the tower there is a rocky down slope on the right, the rat was in those rocks and the rabbit was across the path on the left, in the forest. I just stood quietly at that spot between 8:30-9:15.

        Can’t think of anything else nearby.


  7. Jon Hall 12 years ago

    Thanks John for this info. Its great to get information like this… I am certain there are places around the world to see so many species and equally certain that its very hard to find out about them, even with google!

    Now I just need to get to DC


  8. […] first learned of this program through my friend John Fox, a hard-core birder and mammal enthusiast. A few winters ago, I was in Arlington to interview for […]

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