Little is known about nest tree use of the endangered Virginia northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus). Because nesting sites could be a limiting factor, it is important to understand the denning ecology to further manage and protect this subspecies. We compared characteristics of nest trees used by Virginia northern flying squirrels with randomly selected trees during summer and fall of 2000 and 2001. We tracked 13 Virginia northern flying squirrels to 59 nest trees. The squirrels used an average of 3.6 nest trees/month, switching trees frequently. Sixty-nine percent of the nests were in cavities and 31% were leaf nests. Yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) and Fraser magnolia (Magnolia fraseri) were selected for nest trees more than expected based on availability. A large portion of nest trees were in larger and taller trees than trees in the surrounding area. There also was a significant number of trees located next to or near skidder and hiking trails. Although a large number of nest trees were similar across sites, there was variation in the characteristics of nest trees used, suggesting that Virginia northern flying squirrels may not be as specialized in nest tree selection as indicated by previous studies.
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Vol. 151 • No. 2