Colorado Chipmunk (Tamias quadrivittatus)
The day after the kids and I drew this chipmunk (I haven’t scanned their drawings—sorry!), we rode the tram to the top of Sandia Peak here in Albuquerque. At the top, we stood on a deck overlooking the mountainside and the city below, and who should we spy skittering on the rocks in front of us but a handful of Colorado chipmunks! At first we thought we might just have Colorado chipmunks on the brain and that these were likely some other kind, but a look at my dad’s Field Guide to the Sandia Mountains helped confirm our identification of the chipmunks.
My Princeton field guide to the mammals of North America says, “CHIPMUNKS—This group of small, striped squirrels is easy to recognize, but it is very difficult to distinguish between the 22 different species. Easterners have it easy, with only one to choose from,” leaving the other 21 to form a chaotic overlapping mass of chipmunkitude for the westerner to tell apart.
Our family has been working on a fantastic naturalist training course (more on that someday soon), and one of our references for the course, Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife, says, “You should have little problem identifying mammals that you’ve had the luxury of observing out in the open for a long period of time. But if one crosses your path only briefly, try to extract from the encounter a general impression of its shape and color, and also a rough estimate of the size of its ears and the length of its tail. With such information at hand, you’ll have a much easier time giving the creature a name.”
Here’s a video of the Colorado chipmunk to help you identify it next time you meet it in the mountains.