Tock Tock Tock

23 September 2015

There’s a hollow knocking sound you often hear in the woods but you rarely see who’s making it. Tock Tock Tock Tock, the sound travels and is echoed by additional singers. 

The knocking is a chipmunk warning call that means “Danger From The Air!”  One chipmunk has seen an aerial predator and has frozen in position to warn everyone else that they’d better watch out.  The other chipmunks freeze too and echo the call until it’s impossible to tell where the warning began.

The video below shows the sound as we usually encounter it — a disembodied knocking.  In this case it’s louder than thunder.

When you hear the Tock sound, look for a raptor. One of the chipmunks knows where it is.

(videos by Mark Czerniec and MyBackyardBirding on YouTube)

7 thoughts on “Tock Tock Tock

  1. Thank you so much for this info. I have searching and searching which birds makes that sound finally thanks to you I now know its a chipmunk

    1. I have also been irritated by this noise for hours on end and in fact it is in an area where there is relatively little clearance to see up into the sky: just too many trees. Perhaps the noise signal something else like a missing youngster or illness or something.

  2. OMG i have been SO irritated by this noise that goes on constantly all day, day after day. I thought it was a bird. Thank you very much for letting me finally figure it out. Maybe it signals more than just a predator in the air, because our area is heavily wooded and you can’t really see the sky where the noise is coming from.

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