My folks' backyard is frequented by a number of chipmunks, squirrels, and an occasional ground hog.

Over the years, there have been a few clever, comical chipmunks that have become friends. It's not something that happened overnight, though. It took a lot of patience and persistence (and almonds!) to get them each of them to interact with me on a regular basis. At the culmination of this process, I could almost always call them to the yard just by whistling.

Buddi was the first chipmunk I befriended in this manner. I thought she was male early on (not being particularly aware of the differences between male and female chipmunks at that time), but then she disappeared for a month and showed up with three pups. She was a real character; very friendly, and she never hesitated to jump into my lap to get my attention. She visited us over four summers, though in the last summer she was a bit off and it was clear her health was waning.

Ginger was the next chipmunk that I would befriend. I believe she was Buddi's daughter, but I cannot confirm it. Buddi regularly chased Ginger out of the yard, but when Buddi's appearances became less frequent, Ginger become a regular visitor. Ginger only visited us for two summers, though, before moving on to either another yard or the big burrow in the sky.

Billy is currently the dominant critter in the backyard, having secured the position once we relocated the squirrels to a nearby forest. (There was an huge influx of squirrels in the summer of 2008). He is the star of all my recent chipmunk+toy pics, and has certainly become a bit of celebrity for it.

Billy has been a bit aloof this year, though, only showing up once or twice in the past month. That's not entirely surprising, as it is mating season and he is male. I'm hoping that once the litters are born, he'll return to the backyard on a regular basis.

In the meantime, we've been interacting with a skittish and obviously pregnant female that we've called Molly. She doesn't seem to have the temperament to be the next chipmunk celebrity, but perhaps one of her pups will inherit that mantle from Billy.
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