Breakfast with Chipmunks
Originally posted on Research & Collections:
by Meg Lowman
One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. – Luciano Pavarotti, opera singer
One of the best parts of spring is waking up with Mother Nature. Eagerly hitting the trail for an early morning walk, I was confronted by a charismatic denizen of the temperate forest: a chipmunk! He trembled in haste among the leaf litter, foraging for his cache of buried nuts, and ravenously nibbling extraneous pine needles as part of his banquet-on-the-go. Pausing to observe this elegantly striped creature devour a vegetarian breakfast, I was struck by his frantic attitude. Was he anticipating the next snowfall? Or did he fear an imminent enemy about to pounce? Throughout his feeding-frenzy, he did not relax for even a minute. As a scientist, I could not help comparing his behavior to the animals of tropical forests. Sloths in Panama hardly ever move, casually taking a bite of leaves here and there; egrets in the Everglades strategically stand still for long periods of time during a fishing expedition; and many Amazonian insects exhibit the same behavior all year round.