Chippies

What a clean, pert, dapper, nervous little fellow he is! How fast his heart beats, as he stands up on the wall by the roadside, and, with hands spread out upon his breast, regards you intently!

~John Burroughs in his essay entitled, The Chipmunk, 1900

Chipmunk climbing rock wall

Eastern Chipmunk climbing rock wall (click photos to enlarge)

Okay, I may be biased, but Eastern Chipmunks have got to be one of the cutest of all our native wildlife. So, I was delighted to discover there are several here in the vicinity of the yard. I have been seeing them off and on since March, sometimes a couple chasing each other, sometimes just one. I have often gone days without spotting any and am delighted when I see one return. I am a little embarrassed to admit I have even been known to exclaim, Chippie!, in a not so manly voice, when I see one darting about the yard.

Back in late March and early April, there was a dry spell of chippie sightings. It had been cold, so that could explain it, but I also worried that one of the many potential predators here in the area (snakes, hawks, foxes, and a free-roaming neighbor’s cat) might have taken a toll. On April 13, there was finally a sighting, and it was duly recorded in my journal. Then on April 14, this entry – This morning there were at least three young chipmunks out in the yard. They were wrestling and chasing each other. One has the tip of its tail missing. They are about 2/3 the size of the adult with them….so cute and curious about everything.

Amazing…baby chipmunks! Most references say there are two broods each year, one in the spring, one in late summer, with 3 or 4 babies in each. The young leave the burrow at about 6 weeks and then must find their own place within just a couple of weeks. This is my first experience with baby chipmunks, and I’m afraid it’s addicting.

Eastern Chipmunk with acorn

Juvenile Eastern Chipmunk with acorn

They are most active early in the morning, with another peak in late afternoon. I see them forage all across the yard and nearby woods, but they are particularly fond of the areas around the bird feeders and the rock walls around the pools.

Eastern Chipmunk pausing to check on me

Eastern Chipmunk pausing to check on me

Chipmunks are cautious, very cautious, and freeze at the slightest hint of danger to survey the scene.

Chipmunk responds to anothers alarm call

Chipmunk responds to a nearby alarm call

When alarmed, they emit a high-pitched note (resembling a bird chirp). When one calls, the others in the area either scurry or become very vigilant. Here, one stands up and looks around for whatever it is that the other chipmunk is concerned about. And they can disappear in a hurry, scampering to cover, tail held high.

I will undoubtedly be posting more on these cute little critters, so I’ll save some of the fascinating facts for a later post. For now, here’s a sample of why I can’t help but look out the window every morning and exclaim, Chippies!

2 thoughts on “Chippies

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