An eastern fox squirrel sits on a park bench in Irving Park on a foggy December day. We have two species of tree squirrel you frequently see in the city, foxes and eastern grays, neither is native. We have native squirrels in our forests but I’ve rarely seen them.
Eastern fox squirrels have several color variations in addition to the most common one, including this black-and-white variation in the southeast. My stepfather told me to be on the lookout for them when I visited after he and my mom moved to South Carolina. It was bittersweet when I got to spend some time with this one on a sunny winter day in 2006, as it was a week after my stepfather’s funeral after we lost him too young to cancer.