Is it just me, or has the chipmunk population in Rock Creek Park exploded over the last couple of years?
Chipmunks are known for being able to hold food in their cheek pouches (six acorns at once!) and for gathering large caches of food for winter (often hundreds of acorns and other nuts and seeds). This activity gave rise to their genus name, Tamias, Greek for "storer." Chipmunks also eat insects, berries, and mushrooms when they're available.
The Eastern chipmunk is Tamias striatus, or "striped storer." Look for a pattern of two black stripes on each side, with a lighter stripe in between them, and a fifth black stripe down the middle of the chipmunk's back. Between the puffy cheeks and the racing stripes, you can see why Disney and others have found them appealing.
In the wild, chipmunks don't exactly sing. But they do frequently make warning calls that sound more like what you would expect out of a bird than a mammal. We love to stump people with this! Listen here, and you'll be prepared to spot an alarmed chipmunk on your next walk:
Or, maybe you still prefer this version: