June 2, 2014
When I first moved into one of Washington, D.C.’s Virginia suburbs, shrouded with heavy woodlands, I was thrilled by a little flash of energy that rocketed past me one day as I stepped from house to backyard. Was that a chipmunk?
Woodchucks may not show much interest in chipmunk communications, but some bird species do. Chipmunks nosh on eggs and nestlings up to three days old when the opportunity arises. Particularly vulnerable to chipmunk attacks are veeries, a type of thrush that nests in shrubs up to 3 feet off the ground, and ovenbirds, which nest only on the ground. When these birds hear chipmunk calls, they sense danger. Kenneth Schmidt, a biologist at Texas Tech University who studies eastern chipmunks, says that veeries sometimes adjust the height of their nests in response to chipmunk calls. Both veeries and ovenbirds may shift their territories to avoid nesting within chipmunk range.