I Am Not a Chipmunk!


I was blissfully unaware of the existence of thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) living in Michigan, let alone in Oakland County, until a summer day ten years ago. On that day of discovery, I was wandering the Shiawassee Basin Nature Preserve in Springfield Township admiring wildflowers, dragonflies and butterflies in a small meadow. I was just a few hundred feet from the Springfield Township Civic Center when suddenly a small chipmunk-like creature popped up out of the ground in a field rich with clover, grasshoppers and bugs of all sorts. I managed one photo before its hyper-speed vanishing act commenced.

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Chipmunk Secrets at the Dawn of Spring


“The chipmunks are back!” That comment e-mailed to me, followed by a second sentence, “Where were they all winter?” inspired this chipmunk tale. The story starts with food. Unlike nectar sipping Ruby-throated Hummingbirds or our majestic fish-eating Osprey that fly thousands of miles to return to their breeding grounds in Oakland County, chipmunks just migrated about two feet when the snowflakes of November fell. Adaption is the key to survival for all species, and it’s all about the availability of food. Hummingbirds cannot store nectar, nor can Osprey store fresh fish so they flew south. Chipmunks can store nuts, but there’s more to this tale of vanishing chipmunks. Continue reading