03.10.19: Calling chipmunk

A chipmunk calls from a log in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.


Technical information

Oct. 22, 2016,
9:08 a.m.

40°6'44.723" N 82°57'31.013" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EF 600mm f/4L, Canon 1.4x teleconverter (840mm) 


1/1000th second


Most of my photography experiences involving chipmunks go something like this: My eyes see a chipmunk and my brain says “there’s a …” (the chipmunk drops into hiding) “… chipmunk."

It's not easy to get shots of chipmunks. They don't spend much time in the open. Their color allows them to blend with their surroundings. And they are quick to head for cover when threatened. This survival behavior is important because there are a lot of animals hanging around the woods that eat chipmunks, including owls, hawks, coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, foxes, weasels, cats, dogs, snakes and possibly others. An inattentive chipmunk can become a snack.

But I've managed to get some good shots through the years, lucky accidents when I'm in the woods or fields photographing birds. 

I found this chipmunk standing at a base of a tree in the forest. When I first saw it the chipmunk’s back was to me so I stopped beside a neighboring tree, focused the camera on the chipmunk and waited for it to turn around.

What I didn’t expect was to be treated to a chipmunk concert.

As the chipmunk turned it started emitting a series of clucks and warbling trills. I had read that chipmunks often do this when running from a predator as a way to alert other chipmunks in the area. But this one was standing still. And the calling continued for almost five minutes before it noticed me and ducked into a hole beneath the roots.

The chipmunk’s behavior seemed worried as it turned various directions and repeated its calls, waiting a few moments each time as if it was expecting a response. I’m not an expert in chipmunk behavior, but it seemed to me like its mate might be missing and it was calling in hopes of locating it.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.