Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 7.djvu/449

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433
THE AMERICAN CHIPMUNK.

transit of Venus, German astronomers have made some telegraphic measurements of differences of time in the East Indies; but the vast and constantly increasing net-work of cables nearly surrounding the earth will afford work for years to come, and will, in a way hardly contemplated by the projectors, add in a very great degree to accurate geographical knowledge.

 
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THE AMERICAN CHIPMUNK.
By CHARLES C. ABBOTT, M. D.

WITH the first sweet blossoms of the Epigæa, and long before the foremost warbler greets his old-time home with gleesome songs, our little chipmunk has roused himself from his long winter's nap, and, sniffing the south wind, as it whirls the dead leaves about, scampers to and fro while the sun shines, and dives into his winter-quarters, it may be for a whole week, if the north wind whispers to the tall beech-trees. But the blustering days of March give way in due time to showery April, and then, with more courage, "chip" faces the music of the winds, blow they from whatever quarter, and darting along the top rail of our zigzag fences, chatters, scolds, and calls at and to his equally noisy companions. They know full well that they have the summer before them, and, while determined to enjoy it, begin early and in good earnest to make arrangements for its coming duties. We watched several pairs of them from March to November, during the last year (1874), and our sketch is based on numerous notes made at different times.

Until the weather became fairly settled, and really spring-like in temperature, these little chipmunks did not frequently show them-selves, and then only in the middle of the day. The occurrence of a cold storm they appeared to foretell by twenty-four hours, and resumed their hibernating sleep, becoming lethargic, and very difficult to restore to consciousness. A pair that we dug out in March, having two days before reentered their winter-quarters and become again torpid, were apparently lifeless when first taken up in the hands, and not until after several hours' warming did they become lively and altogether themselves again. This seemed to us the more curious, in that they can respond to a favorable change in the weather in a short time, even when the thermometric change is really but a few degrees.

On the 3d of May a pair made their appearance in the yard of our residence, and took up their abode in a stone-wall having a southern outlook, and on the edge of a steep descent of seventy feet; which hill-side is thickly wooded, and harbors scores of these little chip-