‘Tortilla Squirrel' Has Captured Our Nature-Loving Fancies

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area shared the photo as a fun way to remind citizen scientists that they have an important role to play.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

What to Know

  • Urban Information Wildlife Network cameras regularly photograph Southern California wildlife (including tortilla-eating squirrels)
  • Citizen scientists are being asked to help identify and tag photos through Zooniverse
  • Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area sent out the call for citizen scientists in honor of National Public Lands Day, which is Sept. 26

Slipping out of the kitchen with a tortilla in hand before other members of the family see you and call you out?

Pretty much every eater everywhere has enjoyed a pre-dinner "bonus" goodie at some point, the tortilla that tides you over for an hour or two, ahead of the enchiladas or the burritos in the oven.

So finding quibble with a small squirrel dashing away with a sizable tortilla in its maw? Hardly anyone could, because we all know the power of a fabulous and floury round of baked or fried dough.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area just shared a photograph of the bushy-tailed foodie, which was snapped in 2019, as a way to gain the attention and help of citizen scientists.

And, of course, to celebrate National Public Lands Day, which is always on the last Saturday in September.

For the wild and lovely destination is looking for at-home, science-loving people to identify critters caught on camera, specifically the cameras of the Urban Wildlife Information Network, or UWIN.

"You don’t need a scientific background or degree, but you do need access to the internet, time, and attention to detail. Log onto Zooniverse (link in bio)," shared the Santa Monica Mountains team. "You can start looking through photos and 'tagging' wildlife to better inform our scientists."

Zooniverse explains how the 37 camera sites, which are all located within two kilometers of the Los Angeles River, works on this page.

There will be tips and pointers on identifying, so you'll know what to look for, and the process for tagging, before you jump into the project.

"This is real research that is shared with organizations and institutions across the country so that we may all have a better understanding of how to live alongside wildlife," says the statement, a truly inspirational call to action.

Will you happen to see another squirrel enjoying a tortilla?

That's hard to say, but tagging photographs of the fauna we share our region with, all to help wildlife-studying scientists know more about our furry neighbors, is as sweet as your favorite tortilla dish is tasty.

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