dream ranch

~ All sky, no cattle ~

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I’ll never be fully comfortable calling these wee Placitas souls — this one photobombing my bluebird session this morning — Texas antelope squirrels.

My trusty “Field Guide to the Sandia Mountains (edited by Julyan and Stuever) notes, “The Rio Grande serves as a barrier between the Texas antelope occurring east of the river and the white-tailed and Harris’ antelope squirrels occurring west.” But I guess I’m still happy to be an eastsider. And this is certainly among the more benign examples of possible New Mexico-Texas tensions.

In case you’re wondering, as I always do, Sandia-area chipmunks are said by field guide mammal author Paul J. Polechla, Jr. to be “the only members of the squirrel family with eye stripes.”

colorado chipmunk

Colorado chipmunk. nps.gov photo

I looked up the binomial credit for the Texas antelope squirrel, or ammospermophilus interpres, suspicious to see if the namer was perchance a Texan. No, Wikipedia says, “Clinton Hart Merriam (December 5, 1855 – March 19, 1942) was an American zoologist, mammalogist, ornithologist, entomologist, ethnographer, and naturalist,” born in New York City and leaving this life in Berkeley, California.

At this point, I decided to bag my regional prejudice tendencies because I also read that Merriam was appointed to be a naturalist on the Hayden Geological Survey of 1872 at age 16. I usually have found myself fascinated with anything or anyone affiliated with the Hayden survey.

And I will say for the record that I always will welcome Texas antelope squirrels.

Here are those more broadly referenced Western bluebirds, by the way: