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.”
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: