Friday, January 13, 2012

Litter picking is an All Season Sport - Chipmunks pick up their trash! South Burlington, Vermont

I feed birds thereby I have fed first squirrels and now chipmunks.  I have played block and tackle with squirrels for years with some success keeping them out of our birdfeeders. Now new competitors have arrived-chipmunks.

The squirrels are mysteriously gone, no longer visiting our bird feeders.
Chipmunks took up residence after the squirrels departed for more adventuress fun in someone else’s yard.  Either my squirrel evading tactics were to challenging or my birdseed was too old to bother with anymore.  At first, I thought how lovely a creature the chipmunk.

 Small, soft looking, pretty shades of brown, wiggly little noses, fat cheeks, tiny mouse like feet.   Soon though I realized, as the vacancy sign came down, that the new residents were similar to the old – both being zealous pick up artists.

Summer is short.  Spending all day trying to out-fox chipmunks was not on my agenda-so down came the bird feeder. A few weeks after reluctantly taking down the bird feeder for the summer, like the squirrels the chipmunks made fewer and fewer appearances. By early August, the blueberries in our backyard turned purple yet birds seemingly had not noticed. I eagerly guarded over them checking the progress twice a day, sampling a few for ripeness. Just as I figured I would begin picking berries, the chipmunks raided the harvest. Let me tell you, chipmunks do not need pint baskets when they go on Pick Your Own ventures. These cute, furry, yet damnable creatures can quickly and efficiently pick and store a human handful of blueberries in their greedy little cheek pouches that expand as easily as balloons.

Adding salt to the wound the chipmunks even feasted on the sunflowers, nearly dosing the last ray of late summer sunshine from the lower end of our garden area.  Now I believe in sharing with wildlife, in fact I have planted an assortment of plants specifically for, or at least to share with, birds and other wildlife.  However, I think pound for pound these sometimes not so adorable chipmunks outdo their squirrel cousins in their consumption appetite. One afternoon as I emptied coffee grounds into our compost barrel, I heard a quick scampering, looked inside, and sure enough a chipmunk had practically set up a dining table and was probably glad for the incoming coffee to accompany the day old pastries and other food scraps.

It is a love hate relationship. Chipmunks eat seeds intended for birds but they also bury nuts that may contribute to new hardwood trees and I have to admit I find them a wee bit cute at times. Admirably, chipmunks keep their sleeping quarters extremely clean.  They store shells and other garbage in refuse tunnels.  If only we could teach chipmunks to collect our littered trash. In the meantime, we will have to rely on those people who pick up littered trash throughout the fall and winter.