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A Chipmunk's Hawkish End

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

This week, I'm preparing for the Bird Watcher's Digest Reader Rendezvous at North Bend State Park in Harrisville, WV. I've taken three recent reconnaissance trips to the lake so I'll know what to expect when I get there, bird and animalwise. But North Bend always surprises me. It's a cauldron of wonder.

There's still time to register for the Rendezvous, which starts Friday afternoon August 22, and goes through noon Sunday August 24, 2014. Check out this link!

I've never seen a breeding season so rife with success. It seems that young birds are everywhere, screaming for attention from their parents. That makes my heart sing, to see them succeed and make their young way in the world. 

The wheedling whistle of young red-tailed hawks  has brightened my days through July and August. These messengers from above seem to follow me wherever I go. David and Mary Jane's sharp eyes caught an adult redtail delivering prey to this well-stuffed youngster, and I paddled over to document it. What did it have?

Well, aside from a very full crop, bulging out from its chest, it seemed to have a chipmunk.

Apparently too full to eat much, the juvenile redtail nevertheless never stopped screaming.


It turned this way and that, showing us its elegantly adorned underpants, decorated with skeins of flying starlings.

It picked at the late chipmunk, giving us a rather graphic view of its prey's little face. Not for everyone, I know. But a Science Chimp's delight.

I grow a zinnia called Blue Point which is a florist's selection. I planted 30 around my gardens for the butterflies and hummingbirds. I grew them from seed and they were going great guns when I planted them.

Worth fighting for, I'd say. 

 Perhaps 15 survive, thanks to chipmunks who dig up absolutely everything I plant. And not just once. I plant the seedlings. The chipmunks dig them up day after day after day, as if to tell me to just give up. I patiently replant them, water them, coddle them, and go out to find them lying roots up again the next morning. These are the ones that survived the Chipmunk Reign of Terror. 

Chipmunks routinely hop up into my large flower planters and randomly dig up established plants, dumping them out onto the ground. Looking for sunflower seeds they stashed in the potting soil when it was in the garage, perhaps. Or just liking to undo all my efforts at beautification. Good luck with that, you little red devils. I am one step ahead of you, every time. You cannot squash my planting urge. 

So I do not mind seeing a fine young redtail turning chipmunk into chevron-flecked pantaloons and hollow bones and strong flight muscles. Nay, I exult in it. Come to my house, where the Boston terrier years ago caught all the dumb slow ones and has selected for a strain of highly destructive, hypervigilant and lightning-fast Supermunks. 

Aww. Poor little chipmunk. Help yourself, Junior. 

"For nursery days are gone, nightmare is
real and there are no good Fairies.
The fox's teeth are in the bunny
and nothing can remove them, honey."

Gavin Ewart, b. 1916 London.


Ahh, so Chet is the one responsible for speeding up chipmunk evolution (always wondered who did that).

Well,I just love everything about this post. Top to bottom and in between.

Excellent imagery in photos and words. I love that Ewart quote, and share your sentiments about those destructive little rodents.

We do not have chipmunks where I live in Florida. Maybe nowhere in Florida? Not sure. Though I do think they are cute little buggers, as a gardener, I do not miss them one tiny bit. They used to eat all my spring bulbs when I lived in Ohio. They made me crazy. Don't even get me started on the time they stole a bag of hazelnuts.

Please! I love the pantaloons description! I will think of that forever.

Especially love your description of the young red tail's "pantaloons" as "decorated with skeins of flying starlings".
We have chipmunks too, and a cocker spaniel who gives them all a run for their money as they help themselves to our sunflower seeds.

Chipmunks are terribly destructive but also very cute. But I'm glad there are still hawks around to keep their populations in check. Have you ever tried planting under/through chicken wire, then covering it with a little mulch? That is how many people keep their bulbs from being dug up. Would be a lot easier to do with seeds - but you may be able to cut a flap to allow you to plant the flowers and then lay it back down.

Stripey devils cached sunflower seeds in all of my bonsai pots, which then sprouted and nearly overran the little trees!

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