Readers’ wildlife photos

September 19, 2014 • 4:49 am

Reader Diana MacPherson has been busy photographing her chimpunks, and she’s sent a post in which she has characteristically anthropomorphized these adorable rodents. The title of the email she sent was “chimpmunks making human gestures,” and her interpretations are indented.

It was a good day for chipmunk (Tamias striatus) pictures. These are all pictures of whom I call “The Interloper”. I think this one is a juvenile by his/her energy level. Often, this chipmunk chases the chipmunk with the chunk missing from her ear.
“I cannot see or say evil. I can’t reach my ears at the same time, so I can still hear it.”
“Is that you, Ceiling Cat?”
“Oh hi—you wouldn’t have some seeds, would you?”
Nom nom nom nom!
“Hey, who’s that near my chippy hole?”
“Hey! You! Yeah you! Move it along!”
“Who am I?! Who am I?! I’m the chipmunk who eats here, that’s who!”
This is the chipmunk The Interloper chases. She has the chunk out of her ear and this is just a really funny pose.
Chipmunk Licking Seeds


32 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. “But I thought you left these here for me!” Great shots, Diana. One year at Boy Scout camp we had a bazillion #10 cans of government surplus peanuts. I kept a can in my tent and fed the nearest chipmunk on a regular basis. After a few weeks, I had him/her eating out of my hand. In fact, the chipmunk wound perch on my hand while eating! He/she came to trust me so much that he/she would climb all over my body, including my head.

    1. They are incredibly easy to tame. I don’t do it here because my dog can hurt them even though she is soft mouthed – if she picks one up, she’ll scare it to death.

      I have fed chipmunks peanuts in the shell by hand in the past. Even this year, I was sitting on the stairs of the deck and a chipmunk came running up and stopped to look up at me, not being used to seeing a human on the deck when he comes for seeds. He decided to go get some seeds from the seed feeder about a meter away. For the whole journey to the feeder, he’d run a few steps and twist around to look at me from the left, then run a few more steps and twist to look around at me from the right, etc. I guess he was making sure I wasn’t moving to snatch him, but the look on his face was funny each time and combined with the funny little stop and twist movement, it was quite comical.

  2. I am in stitches here. My fave:
    “Who am I?! Who am I?! I’m the chipmunk who eats here, that’s who!”

    The One Who Gets Chased is trying to be invisible, blending into the wood. La pauvre!

  3. Wonderful pictures! Photographing chipmunks must be a real challenge. In my experience they don’t stand still for long, and they move at the speed of light, if not slightly faster. You may see a chipmunk facing north, and two-and-a-half nanoseconds later it is facing south, and that’s just when it’s being laid back and not in a hurry.

    1. Yes, they are pretty darty but they can also sit still for long periods. At one stretch during my picture taking yesterday, a trio of Blue Jays started making a racket. This made the chipmunk nervous (probably because blue jays tend to make a fuss if hawks are nearby) so the chipmunk froze standing up and would slowly look around to look in different directions. The picture “you wouldn’t have some seeds, would you?” was taken during that episode.

      The whiteness of the chipmunks tummy must warn other chipmunks, because it doesn’t do much for the individual as I often notice chipmunks in the grass when they do this.

      1. I have often wondered if there is any reason that so many furry creatures are white or pale on their underside. Is it that predators see only the top side (except when chipmunks are standing up to get a better view), and so that is the only side that needs to be camouflaged?

        1. Interesting question re: pale underbellies. I’ve wondered that myself. And why do so many dogs/foxes, etc. have white tips to their tails? So their young can follow them? ( i’m sure it’s more complicated than that:-)

            1. Interesting wiki entry. I note the honey badger is reverse countershaded as he clearly don’t give a shit:-). Skunk, too. All that military dazzle camouflage stuff is fascinating, too. Read about it in some book a while back, but cab’t remember where…

            2. I’ll partly quote myself from an earlier posting here at WEIT, where we discussed countershading in monkeys. Countershading, which is familiar to fly fishermen (who often spot the fish in the water) and military planespotters, consists of having the illuminated surface of an object darkened, and the unilluminated surface lightened, so as to “counteract the effect of shade and light”, producing “upon a rounded surface the illusionary appearance of flatness” (Cott, 1957:36). As such, it is one of the chief methods by which animals (as well as war planes, at least old ones) achieve concealment, and is very common. For chipmunks, which are frequently preyed upon by raptorial birds, their predators are above them, and to a hawk the countershading makes the chipmunk seem to be just a color spot (not an object) in a flat landscape. Chipmunks live in woods and woodland edges, and have the sort of bouncy, tail flipping behavior that tree squirrels do, although they rarely climb very high. Ground squirrels, which live in grasslands, are much more vulnerable to predation from above, and tend to keep their bellies and tails close to the ground when moving, making them less visible. They too are countershaded.

              Cott, H.B. 1957. Adaptive Coloration in Animals. 2nd printing with revisions. Methuen, London.

              Kamilar, J.M. and B.J. Bradley. 2011. Countershading is related to positional behavior in primates. Journal of Zoology 283:227-233. pdf

              1. Thanks, Gregory. Does the same hold true for a predator animal? Cats also often have white or pale underbellies–I’m thinking of tabbies and tuxedoes. Also dogs and foxes.

              2. Well, our cats at least are in the middle of the food chain. The question would be whether it holds for the apex predators, which I think it does.



          1. The ruby-throated hummingbirds also have white feathers at the corners of their eyes. I used to think it was the whites of their eyes, but when you look closely, you realize that it is feathers.

          1. And it’s brilliantly effective! You hardly ever hear of chipmunks being killed by sharks! Indeed, chipmunks scarcely figure in the shark diet.

    1. Chimpunks, chimppunks, chimpmunks, who cares. They scurry too fast to catch by keyboard!

      [But yeah, those tickles my funny bone. Besides Diana’s one-liners of course!]

  4. Have to hop on a small plane and I hate flying in small planes, (bad past experiences) so these happy chippies and the hilarious captions eased my anxiety. Thanks!

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