They’re Everywhere

Yesterday afternoon I took a walk in Schenley Park to see what I could find.

There weren't many birds -- just a flock of robins, some grackles and blue jays, one brown creeper, and a single confusing fall warbler -- but what was lacking in birds was made up by this very cute mammal.

Chipmunks were everywhere, scrabbling through dead leaves, cramming nuts in their cheeks and shouting as they ran to escape my approach.  My goodness they were busy!

Despite their apparent playfulness chipmunks are actually very territorial.  Except when they're babies they live alone, one per burrow, and defend that burrow against all chipmunks.  They threaten, they shout, they chase each other everywhere.  And they look so cute while they're doing it.

By the end of my walk I was sorry I hadn't counted chipmunks, just for fun.

Was it an illusion or were there more chipmunks than birds?

(photo by Brian Herman)

6 thoughts on “They’re Everywhere

  1. I had a “buggy” bag of peanuts in my greenhouse (for the birds in my peanut holder), so I put it outside. The yard chipmunks had a ball. I thought, I don’t mind if they eat my “buggy” peanuts. But they made a mess, leaving the opened shells, so I threw the bag away, bugs and all. I hate those birdseed “moths” especially flying in my house — makes me wonder what they are infesting next.

  2. Seeing a brown creeper was a good find! Aren’t confusing fall warblers great? That is what they call them in my Peterson bird field guide. I don’t even try to ID them. I say, “There’s a warbler!”.

    I have also noticed abundant chipmunks every time I am outside lately, but especially when walking the dog in my woods. Since the chipmunks are territorial, there must be LOTS of them. During our whole walk, they are constantly shouting and scurrying around!

  3. Hi Kate, Yes, chipmunks are cute but a real pain in the BEHIND! The last couple of years they have infested the backyard and dug holes all around the concrete edge of my pool. It is easy to stumble or get a foot stuck in one. The only way I could get rid of them was to attract feral cats and they handled the problem. So now I feed cats!!! And we have made friends with them and can pet them. P.S. got them fixed too!

  4. How the Chipmunk Got Its Stripes

    Long ago, the Earth was covered in darkness. None of the creatures living there knew what daylight looked like.

    One day, all of the animals of the forest gathered together in a clearing. They wondered if it would be better to remain in darkness, or if it would be better to also have light. Deer, Chipmunk, Raccoon, Wolf, Bear, and many other creatures climbed to the top of the highest mountain. The mountain stood so tall that there were no trees on its top, and it was covered only with rocks. Millions of stars blinked in the dark sky overhead.

    The biggest and most powerful animal in the forest was bear, and he was the first to reach the mountaintop. Bear stood on the highest peak, looked out over the forest below, and argued for remaining in darkness. He said that the creatures of the forest would be able to sleep better in darkness because there would be no light to keep them awake. Most of the other animals were afraid, and they agreed with Bear. Raccoon said that he did not mind the darkness because he was so smart that he could find plenty of food, even in the dark. Wolf was easy to please, too. She didn’t mind the darkness because she could howl in darkness or in light.

    But one animal did stand up to Bear. Chipmunk, the smallest of the animals, argued that it would be better to have both light and dark. Chipmunk was very clever. As Bear continued to argue for darkness, she made many good arguments for light.
    Slowly, the night passed. Bear grew tired of talking, but Chipmunk chattered on and on, as if she had all of the energy in the world. As the other animals dropped off to sleep, one by one, Chipmunk kept arguing. Finally, the first sunrise ever seen by the animals appeared over the top of the mountain. They woke up and were amazed by what they saw.

    Chipmunk began to dance from rock to rock. Bear became angry because he didn’t get his way. He roared loudly and ran after Chipmunk. He chased Chipmunk all the way down the mountain. Bear was fast, and he reached out his giant paw to grab Chipmunk. Chipmunk got away, but not before Bear managed to scratch her back with his long claws. And that is why, to this day, you can see stripes on Chipmunk’s back!

  5. Love that story, John! Especially “Chipmunk chattered on and on, as if she had all of the energy in the world. ” Definitely!

  6. On Sunday morning I went for a run in some urban woods (southeast Michigan) and heard lots of sounds that I eventually traced to chipmunk chatter. Later in the day, while working in my kitchen, I heard the same noise outside my window – a chipmunk was on the fence doing the same thing! Maybe they were trying to tell us that it was International Talk Like a Chipmunk day? :^)

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