Black Squirrels in Washington Square Park

Black Squirrel in Washington Square Park

Black Squirrel in Washington Square Park

Long-time readers may recall my quest to find one of New York City’s black squirrels, and my thrill when I finally came across a black squirrel in Washington Square Park. Since that day, I now see the Washington Square black squirrels pretty much every time I head down that way.

Looking north from W. 4th Street, as I cross Sixth Avenue.

Looking north, as I head east on W. 4th Street across Sixth Avenue.

Walking east on West 4th Street, I usually find the squirrels foraging alongside their gray relatives in a narrow strip of green that runs next to the sidewalk.

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Last Thursday, I spotted this small, extremely active fellow.

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He was rarely still, so it was hard to get a photograph that is not a blur of motion. Nearby, a large gray squirrel dug beneath a fallen leaf for something tasty. (Look at those pink ears.)

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On the northern edge of the strip, another nervous little black squirrel appeared.

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And then I noticed, at the easternmost part of the green, a bulky bear of a black squirrel. I mean, this was one big squirrel.

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When the squirrel sat up on its haunches, I saw right away that she was probably a nursing mother, or had just weaned a litter.

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Big Mama sat up a long time.

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Then she foraged under a nearby leaf.

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She found a nut, and sat up to eat.

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I left her to her dinner. Nearby a lovely gray squirrel struck a pose.

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Explore posts in the same categories: 2013, Fall, In the City, NYC Parks, Seasons, Squirrels, Wildlife/Natural History

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9 Comments on “Black Squirrels in Washington Square Park”

  1. Georgia Says:

    I’ve seen lots of black squirrels in the neighborhood, too. Thank you for chronicling some of them.

    (I once saw a white squirrel, in Boston.)

  2. GlendaG Says:

    What great photos! I see an occasional black squirrel in the parks around my home in Montreal, and just recently caught sight of a “white” squirrel, another color variant of the gray.

  3. Sally Says:

    Another great post – thanks!

  4. virginiafair Says:

    Wow! Great shots. DId you pay her to pose?
    What a difference a couple of days make. I was in WSP Saturday afternoon and it was packed with people. Seeing your photos makes me wish I could get there during the week

  5. fojap Says:

    A boyfriend who grew up on the Lower East Side was fascinated by the black squirrels. Back then, in some parks the squirrels were almost all black. His own idea as that since many of the parks are separated by concrete, you get a situation similar to what you might have on an island.

    I first saw black squirrels in Union Square Park and almost the whole population was that color. During the eighties, the closed off the park and it underwent a total renovation. When it was reopened, the black squirrels were no longer there and most, if not all, of the squirrels were gray.

    The last time I saw a black squirrel I was walking along Tompkins Square Park with my mother about a year and a half ago. We saw several. Since they tend to occur in pockets, you might want to try Tompkins Square Park.

    I love the picture of the Big Mama.

  6. Rena Mueller Says:

    When I was beginning my graduate study at NYU in the 1960s, black squirrels were the only ones you could see in WSP! Apparently they are indigenous to this area and have been there since the 19th century – I cannot remember the citation, but a history buff in my department (Music) had all the data. They gradually became less populous, but clearly, they are survivors!


    • That’s completely fascinating, Rena! I had no idea. The black squirrels are not a separate species at all, but rather a color morph of the Eastern gray, our dominant species in Manhattan. I’d love to know more about this. I’ve been told by readers that there is a large population of black squirrels in northern Manhattan’s Inwood Park, and I’ve seen an isolated one or two here and there in Central Park. Barbara, a reader from Canada commented on an earlier black squirrel post that in her childhood, black squirrels were all over Toronto. The intersection of genetics and urban squirrel behavior would intrigue me, were I an animal biologist. Well, they do intrigue me – I just don’t know how to pursue the intrigue. Will have to do some more research…

      • LI Tom Says:

        Plenty of black squirrels on the Fordham (Bronx) campus.


        • Interesting. There are these little pockets of black squirrels dotted around the city. I guess it’s the “island effect” of city parks separated by roads and buildings: The animals don’t roam far, so the gene pool of one park can be quite different than that of another. Thanks for visiting & writing, LI Tom.


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