While Red Squirrels prefer conifers, the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) prefers mature deciduous trees that produce a good food crop… Hickory, walnut, maple or beech. Being rather adaptable, Eastern Grays can be happy out in the woods, or in your backyard, provided these trees are abundant enough.
Like chipmunks and red squirrels, Gray Squirrels cache food for winter. Unlike the smaller squirrels, however, Grays bury nuts singly, scattered. In addition to nuts, they will eat mushrooms, insects, seeds, buds, flowers, and fruits.
They rarely travel more than 300 yards from their nest tree which is preferably a 12-inch deep cavity in the trunk, especially for winter shelter and for raising babies. If no cavities are available, a loose nest may be built on a sturdy branch from twigs still bearing leaves.
A totally black melanistic phase of the Eastern Gray Squirrel is not uncommon. Though it is the same species, many folks refer to it as Black Squirrel.