Thursday, November 24, 2022

Eastern Chipmunk - Grande Allée - The Grand River - The Backyard

 Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)

     This is the third (and last) of the squirrels that live in our area.

     Eastern Chipmunk is a great favourite with everyone, especially children, who seem drawn to this little rodent with its pin-striped charm. The fact that it will feed from your hand almost without hesitation does nothing to diminish its appeal.

     Its small size and relatively low weight mean that it can evade most devices designed to restrict squirrel access to bird feeders, and it dines with impunity. 

     When they are on a mission to build up winter storage they make trip after trip to their den, cheeks bulging, and seeds set out for the birds can be depleted in short order.
     But who can resist their charm? They climb up onto the chairs while we are relaxing on the patio and it is hard not to succumb to the notion that they enjoy human companionship.

     Chipmunks are solitary, or sometimes live together in small family groups. 
     They are mostly vegetarian, but do not eschew June Bugs, earthworms, grasshoppers and even frogs. Given the chance to raid a bird's nest, eggs form a tasty treat. Gardeners are not always enamoured of chipmunks for whom bulbs and corms are a welcome addition to their diet.
      The list of predators is long and constant vigilance is required to survive. Foxes, coyotes, weasels, raccoons, skunks, and birds of prey all include chipmunks in their diet. In urban areas domestic cats are a constant threat. Often well-fed tabbies will simply decapitate the chipmunks and leave their headless carcases scattered around. Cat owners take note!

     I can hardly wait till spring when we will see them again. 

22 November, 2022
Grande Allée and the Grand River, Cambridge, ON

     I have pointed out to those who should care that the sign is incorrect, but it looks like that is how it is going to stay.

     Even a Grade One pupil would be appalled, but correct French Grammar is obviously unimportant to some.
     The trail meandered on from the road.

     A vagrant Harris's Sparrow (Zontrichia querula) had been reported at this location, so we decided to start our regular Tuesday walk there.
     The bird had been seen at 07h:30 but it did not show itself while we were there.
     Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) were plentiful, however, resplendent in their cerulean beauty.

     We were delighted to see a couple of exceptionally handsome Red Fox Sparrows (Passerella iliaca), always a great sighting.

Grand River, Cambridge, ON

     Having spent about an hour and half searching for the Harris's Sparrow and enjoying the Fox Sparrows, we decided to go down to the Grand River to check on the waterfowl.
     Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser) were indeed exactly that - common. Here are a couple of males.....

     ..... and a female.

     We were reminded that a Mallard (Anas paltyrynchos) is an exceedingly handsome bird.

     Years ago, I used to run into an expatriate Brit quite frequently, who had a broad Birmingham accent and always referred to Mallard drakes as "stunners." Stunners indeed. 
     There was a small flock of Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) - the local ladies club perhaps since they were all females.

     Far down the river we could see a pair of Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) but only the male is visible in the picture below, along with Common Mergansers and an American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus).

     Bruce Spanworm (Operophtera bruceata) is a common moth in November, its appearance seeming to coincide with the first snow.

     An American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) was its usual argumentative self.

     Mostly keeping company with the Buffleheads a single female Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula) dove repeatedly, as did all the other diving ducks present.

     One must assume that the biomass of freshwater mussels, crayfish and other items sought by these ducks is substantial.
     Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis), sated perhaps, seemed content to loaf together.

     A rock always provides a good perch.

     A herring gull was not to be outdone.

     Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) seemed to be enjoying a collective snooze.

Grande Allée, Cambridge, ON

     We decided to return to Grande Allée (less than ten minutes away) to see whether the Harris's Sparrow had appeared again, but no such luck. A small gathering of expectant birders waited patiently.
     Several Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis) came to feed.

     They were joined by that most delicate of our native sparrows, American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea).

     And to bid us farewell another Fox Sparrow joined the fray.

Fountain Street Bridge, Cambridge, ON

     A pair of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephala) have bred successfully at this location, and one of the pair (presumably) was perched adjacent to the nest.

     Not a bad way to end the morning!

23 November 2022
Our backyard, Waterloo, ON

     For a while our backyard resembled Central Station at the rush hour!
     We have found that suet blocks impregnated with capsicum are effective at keeping the squirrels from gorging on it, but are equally enticing for the birds as untreated suet.
     A Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus) returned several times and chiseled away.

     A Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) found it no less appealing.

     I have mentioned in previous posts that American Robin (Turdus migratorius) is no longer uncommon in the winter and this individual was efficiently gleaning seeds spilled from the feeders above.

     House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) is a species whose population has plummeted and often several weeks pass when we don't see them in our yard.

     A Blue Jay is always a welcome visitor.

     "If you've got it, flaunt it," this Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) seems to be saying. 

 A male House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) vies with the cardinal for attention. 

 If I were to speculate on which species is the most frequent visitor to the backyard this year it would be Dark-eyed Junco.

     A male Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) came to partake in the feast.

     Such an interesting display of its underwing as it left.

     Mere moments later a female took its place.

     And these are only the species we captured on camera. There were more! 
     We'll have to see what we can bring you next time.
David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.


  1. ...David, you captured so many critters, thanks for sharing.

  2. The little Eastern Chipmunk is very cute, David. It reminds me of Walt Disney Chip'n' Dale cartoons on tv at Christmas when I was little. The Blue Jay is so beautiful.
    Hugs and kisses, Marit

  3. Love chipmunks!! Never seen a red fox sparrow. They are a stunner to me. :)

  4. Hari OM
    I am never disappointed with my visits here, David... and it is impossible to look at a chipmunk and fail to have one's heart lifted. For me, though, today's favourite has to be that Fox sparrow - what a wee gem!!! YAM xx

  5. The Eastern Chipmunk is a cute little critter. :)

  6. The Eastern Chipmunk looks so cute.
    A fabulous collection of birds in your photographs.

    All the best Jan

  7. Wonderful creatures! Nice photo of the red squirrel.
    I also see a beautiful soft path through the forest! Great post!

  8. Your backyard varieties are plentiful and entertaining for sure. I always enjoy the chipmunks. They are such busy creatures. The blue jays alert the other animals about the presence of predators along the boardwalk and the chipmunks, along with the other small animals, will disappear for some time. I’ve seen juncos and tree sparrows recently but haven’t been able to get any photos. The sparrows are such lovely little birds!

    1. Yes, Blue Jays are very adept at sounding the warning for others to heed.

  9. Our bird seed store carried blocks of seed impregnated suet in a variety of seed bases. It's been so many years I no longer remember the range of variety. I liked them because they minimized the mess, and the squirrel thievery, and left a fair amount on the ground for the zambonies to take care of.

  10. Thanks for the series I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 of them.
    Chipmunks do seem to be rather friendly as you say to humans and I expect a few people might have them as pets.
    Love the Northern Cardinal male, he's lovely. All the photos are good.

  11. I love chipmunks and squirrels. Beautiful birds too. Have a great weekend.

  12. Hi David,
    I love birds. But I prefer cats.

    It's a pleasure to visit this wonderfull blog.
    Greetings from Indonesia.
    I follow your blog.

  13. How nice to see these Chipmunks, these squirrels do not occur here in the Netherlands.
    We also do not see the Blue Jay and the Red Fox Sparrow here.
    Nice end of the morning with David, a sea eagle that is very rare in the Netherlands.
    I enjoyed your photos.
    Greetings Irma

  14. I have mixed feelings about chipmunks. They are so cute, and I like their feistiness, but they do do a lot of damage in my veggie garden. I'm too much of a softy to capture and kill them though, as I know some people do. I just put up the nets around my veggie plants. And it's fun seeing the same birds at your feeders as I have at mine. Cardinals come occasionally, like bluebirds. It's just a bit wooded where I am. Great photos though David. I can tell you love birds just from seeing the photos. Have a great weekend ahead. hugs-Erika

  15. Hi David.

    Superb series.

    Beautiful nature with the little bit of snow still.
    Beautiful Birds and Ducks.
    Beautiful White-tailed Eagle, Cardinal bird and Woodpeckers.
    The funniest thing was the squirrel.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  16. The cold weather makes food more and more difficult to find.

  17. To my knowledge, we have no chipmunks here. These little ones are really cute. My problem is with squirrels who dig through my soil to steal seeds and bulbs.

    Loved seeing the cardinal. They no longer visit my area of the city.

    Blue jays are very vocal and can be quite vicious when they feel they are threatened. I tried to rescue a neighbor's cat that was being attacked by a group of blue jays. They came after me, too.

    As always, your photos are quite stunning.

    1. Given the carnage wrought by cats it seems poetic justice that it was being attacked.

  18. Hi David. I left a long comment here yesterday but don't see it. So today I will just say, thank you for joining FFO and have a lovely day.

    1. I think yesterday's comment must have disappeared into the ether somewhere!

  19. Buenas tardes, apreciado y querido amigo David, me encanta esa pequeña ardilla listada, realmente me gustan todas, por estos parajes no tengo la suerte de encontrar alguna de ellas, tan solo un día encontré una ardilla por mi jardín y ese día estuve contento de esa visualización que ya no volvió a producirse nunca más.
    Tienes muy buena afluencia en el patio trasero y los comederos son frecuentemente visitados, ellos saben de sobra donde se acercan y conocen de tus buenas intenciones.
    Ya veo que la nieve aunque lentamente va haciendo acto de presencia como debe de ser para las fechas que nos encontramos, por estas tierras aún estamos disfrutando de un clima nada normal para estas fechas.
    Otro precioso reportaje con buenos avistamientos, imagino que cualquier día, es un día bueno para poder contemplar tanta belleza natural.
    Sinceramente, creo que deberían levantar un pequeño monumento a tu persona en ese parque por tan buena divulgación que haces de ese merecido lugar y del amor que sientes por su entorno. Cualquier día puede que llegue.
    Muchas gracias por tu visita en mi otro blog de poemas, ha sido un placer contar con tu presencia amigo.
    Un gran abrazo querido amigo y compadre David.

  20. I have only had the pleasure of encountering Chipmunks in the USA, David, but found them to be extremely enchanting creatures and, as you note, delightfully bold and friendly.

    I see that I am not the only person to appreciate the sartorial elegance of your Red Fox Sparrows.

    Best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

  21. I am glad that you encountered chipmunks, Richard. They really are exquisite little creatures.

  22. Of course everyone (or nearly everyone) loves the little chipmunks ~ I'd enjoy hand-feeding one of those as much as hand-feeding a chickadee! Maybe one day. I was impressed by your underwing photo of the Downy Woodpecker; it's not only interesting for what it shows of the bird, it's aesthetically pleasing, too.

    Just today, I came across the name and work of Victor Emanuel, and the VENT tours. I remember your posts from various places -- Panama, perhaps, or Ecuador? -- and wondered if you might have experienced one of those tours. They look wonderful.

    1. I am sure that they are wonderful, Linda, but far too expensive for me. I always select my guides in the country I am visiting. I don't need to pay for high-priced guides from other countries to take me to Ecuador, for example, when there are very competent guides right there - and much less expensive.

    2. This is a sensible approach. An American artist friend who lives in Ecuador does a great deal of birding accompanied by Ecuadorian guides, and her reports of their knowledge and expertise are fascinating -- as are her photos of the birds there.

  23. Such lovely images. Thank you as always for sharing them.

  24. Una belleza esa ardilla; son animales que me gustan mucho, desafortunadamente no hay donde vivo y solo 2 especies en el país, bien al norte. Muy linda la variedad de aves en tu zona, como siempre. Se puede apreciar que ya llegó el frío, aquí por supuiesto l ocontrario pero además con unos calores de verano faltano un mes , ya casi dos semanas superando los 35 C en varios días, además con resfrío y mucho trabajo, n he salido a ver aves. Por suerte tengo muchísimo para editar. Un gran abrazo amigo David

  25. So many nice captures of the birds and critters.

  26. You captured so many outstanding images of these wonderful creatures. The chipmunk is so cute!

  27. Always nice to see Blue Jays and red Cardinals contrasting so beautifully against the white snow.

  28. Chipmunks are so cute and I love that red squirrel. We had chipmunks in NC but not sure if they are here in Florida. Love the Eagle...a great photo for the day!

  29. As I was reading your blog, I could hear the chirps of house sparrows outside the window. They are still reasonably common here and are currently nesting. Fledglings make a lot of noise!

  30. We've had a lot of activity at our backyard feeders recently. Black capped chickadees, white breasted nuthatches (no red breasted), tufted titmice, the occasional downy and hairy woodpecker and the less occasional red bellied woodpecker. A Northern Cardinal pair brighten up our yard. We've heard blue jays but haven't seen any. Fewer dark eyed juncos than last year (so far), and ditto for mourning doves. Both feast on the seeds shoveled out of the feeders, along with grey squirrels. I miss the Eastern Chipmunks who come right up to my feet in the summer, as much as I can be angry at them for disturbing my planters. Alana

  31. Great bird photos! As the weather gets colder, I hope to see Fox Sparrows here in the southern US.
    Love the chipmunks!

  32. I have only seen chipmunks when we visited the Grand Canyon but they are delightful and certainly won me over.

    Spelling these days is hopeless we pick out spelling mistakes on the T V several times a day. When I say we, generally Nigel is much quicker than I am!

    A lovely set of bird photos and you have some beautiful native sparrows. We do though have the sky go dark when the House Sparrows arrive at the feeder. There must be 100s. I hear the woodpeckers often but they seldom come near to our feeder and I have not seen them for a couple of years. I just know that they are still around.

    Bon dimanche and take care. Santé Diane


  33. Poco a poco me pondré al corriente de las publicaciones en los blogs.
    Mi ordenador no ha tenido arreglo y ya tengo un ordenador nuevo al que ahora me tengo que acostumbrar. He estado bastante tiempo, pensando en la elección.

  34. I came across chipmunks for the first time whilst on holiday in Canada. They were much more friendly than the squirrels in my garden. Great photos as always.

  35. That Eastern Chipmunk is too cute!
    Fabulous series of photos, David!

  36. David - the Fox Sparrow is new to me - so glad you had the sighting you could share with the rest of us. And the Downy Woodpecker underwing photo is special!!!

  37. The red head of the woodpecker is so lovely. Happy Sunday to you.

  38. Thanks. You made my day today; sharing your photos and narration with linking in!!

    I must say all your images are super, but the lighting with the woodpecker is so professional!!

  39. Hi David - always a delightful collection ... the Fox Sparrow is particularly appealing, but the chipmunk - sweet little things ... while the Northern Cardinal definitely flaunts it - he couldn't hide could he, but the Blue Jay also flaunts its colour. Excellent to see the Bruce Spanworm moth .... you always find delightful pictures for us to see. Cheers Hilary

  40. Wonderful creatures beautifully photographed, as always in your blog.

  41. Hi David,
    thank you for showing picture 2 - I never knew there were squirrels sooo small.
    Must be fun to have these around. I also loved to see pictures of the blue ray again; and this fatastic color of the red cardinal.

    Best regards, Corrie

  42. Quite an array of critters around the house.

  43. I can smell the snow!....I love chipmunks and squirrels, but not in my bird feeder....great pictures!!........Abrazotes, Marcela

  44. Chipmunks are so cute! I have seen one in my yard so I hope they come to my feeders. I was surprised to read that a moth shows up in cold snowy weather.

  45. Muchas ardillas véis por ahí. Y muchos visitantes van a vuestro jardín a comer. El Blue Jay tiene un plumaje precioso.Me gustó el reportaje.
    Buena semana David.
    Un abrazo

  46. Your backyard bird photos are beautiful, especially the Hairy Woodpecker!! We have lots of chipmunks around here too, I love to watch them scuttling around! You know what's funny? When I loaded your page, Google Translate popped up and asked me if I wanted to translate your post from Spanish to English lol.

  47. The little squirrel is adorable. I was delighted with the blue jay and a real curiosity - Fox Sparrow. And the cardinal stole my heart
    Hugs and greetings.

  48. Chipmunks are so cute but they don't live down here. Too hot I guess. As a gardener I'm probably glad they don't. I've complained about no birds but wherever they were, they are back now, even the sparrows. Not such a variety as you have but the usual culprits. I had a suet feeder and went out to check on it one afternoon to find the little wire cage completely missing though the hook it had been hanging from was still there. I looked all around and never did find it. I have no idea what critter climbed the tree and managed to get it off the hook and carry it away.

  49. Oh, you put the chipmunk in the squirrel family? Okay it's the same family, I would have said rodent rather than squirrel.
    For me the chipmunk is the cartoon ;-))
    It is so small in the hand, what a wonder.
    I notice once again that in Canada animals are used to humans. In France it is far from being the case. With centuries of hunting animals have a genetic map made to flee from humans.

    How many birds do you have that come to your house in winter David?
    Big kisses and good day

    1. A chipmunk is a species of ground squirrel, Nathalie, sometimes even referred to as Striped Ground Squirrel. Let me think about the number of species that visit my yard in the winter and I will get back to you.

  50. Hello David, Good heavens what an amount of different and wonderful birds come to feast in your garden. It is amazing! Just like the many differend birds you encounter on your walks. In compairing with the bids on this part of the world, it looks like all the birds here have gone south. The chipmunk is great and some wonderful photos of it.
    Warm regards,

  51. Come one David, if people can't get "there", "their" and "they're" reight, you can't expect them to know French grammar...
    Those chipmunks are highly entertaining. We often met them (probably the Western cousins) while camping and they weren't shy at all. We always enjoyed them. Your backyard has lots of birds, you can just sit there, have a nice cup of coffee or hot chocolate and watch them. Since I put up some of my feeders, the bird population has much increased in my backyard and I'm thankful that the residing neighborhood cat is old and doesn't hunt them anymore. All other cats I try to keep out or try to create safe spaces around the feeders. There are so many cats in the neighborhood and none of the owners keeps them indoors. As much as I love cats, I'd rather see them indoors. It's safer for them as well, and definitely for the birds.
    Please tell Miriam that her photos are exquisite.

  52. a butterfly in November. How rare. :) I was happy to see Common Mergansers the other day. But was unable to get a shot of them.

    1. Bruce Spanworm is actually quite common at this time of the year.

  53. I get a little hostile when the squirrel comes to the feeder but the chipmunk is always welcome! Lovely photos as always, David!

  54. David, I hate to admit to my ignorance, but I always do learn something from reading your posts, and I'm grateful for that. I did not know (and here I publicly admit for all to read!) that a chipmunk is considered a squirrel. We have lots in our backyard, and they are quite charming. Whenever I see you post a photo of a bald eagle, it takes my breath away.

    1. Hi Amy: You have no idea how happy it makes me that you learn from my blog. Thanks for telling me.

  55. Enjoyed all your photos and narratives. Wo doesn't love chipmunks. They appear so adorable. The only chipmunks I've seen here are when I have hiked to a bit higher elevation in the trees at one of the very large city parks.

  56. Dziekuję za piękną relację i kolejne udane zdjęcia ptaków. Teraz mam więcej czasu, jak skończył się sezon w ogrodzie. Może wreszcie namaluje ptaka z Kanady!


Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the land on which we are situated are the lands traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Neutral People. We also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws, and philosophies of the Indigenous Peoples with whom we share this land today. We are all treaty people with a responsibility to honour all our relations.