AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851) Vol. I, Plate 8, Chipping Squirrel

AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851) Vol. I, Plate 8, Chipping Squirrel

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Painted by John James Audubon (1785-1851) with background likely by Victor Gifford Audubon (1809-1860)
Lithographed by J. T. Bowen &. Co.
Lithograph with hand color, paper dimensions: approximately 22 x 28 inches
From Vol. I, Part 2 of John James Audubon and John Bachman’s (1790-1875) The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.
New York: V.G. Audubon, 1845-1848.

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The following passage is included in the accompanying description of Tamias Lysteri, Ray. Chipping Squirrel, Hackee, &c.:

“The Chipping Squirrel, as this little animal is usually called, or Ground Squirrel, as it is named almost as frequently, is probably, with the exception of the common flying squirrel, (Pteromys volucella,) one of the most interesting of our small quadrupeds. It is found in most parts of the United States, and being beautifully marked in its colouring, is known to every body. From its lively and busy habits, one might consider it among the quadrupeds as occupying the place of the wren among the feathered tribes. Like the latter, the Ground Squirrel, full of vivacity, plays with the utmost grace and agility among the broken rocks or uprooted stumps of trees about the farm or wood pasture; its. clucking resembles the chip, chip, chip, of a young chicken, and although not musical, like the song of the little winter wren, excites agreeable thoughts as it come* on the air. We fancy we see one of these sprightly Chipping Squirrel as he runs before us with the. speed of a bird, skimming along a log fence, his chops distended by the nuts he has gathered in the woods; he makes no pause till he reaches the entrance of his subterranean retreat and store-house. Now he stands upright, and his chattering cry is heard, but at the first step we make towards him, he disappears. Stone after stone we remove from the aperture leading to his deep and circuitous burrow; but in vain is all our labour—with our hatchets we cut the tangled roots, and as we follow the animal, patiently digging into his innermost retreat, we hear his angry, querulous tones. We get within a few inches of him now, and can already see his large dark eyes; but at this moment out he rushes, and ere we can " grab" him, has passed us, and finds security in some other hiding place, of which there are always plenty at hand that he is well accustomed to fly to; and we willingly leave him unmolested, to congratulate himself on his escape….

Man has his hours of recreation, and so has the school-boy; while the former is fond of the chase, and keeps his horses, dogs and guns, the latter when released from school gets up a little hunt agreeable to his own taste and limited resources. The boys have not yet been allowed to carry fire-arms, and have been obliged to adhere to the command of a careful mother—" don't meddle with that gun, Billy, it may go off and kill you." But. the Chip Muck can be hunted without a gun, and Saturday, the glorious weekly return of their freedom and independence from the crabbed schoolmaster and the puzzling spelling-book, is selected for the important event.

There are some very pleasing reminiscences associated with these little sports of boyhood. The lads, hurried by delightful anticipations, usually meet half an hour before the time appointed. They come with their " shining morning faces" full of glee and talking of their expected success. In lieu of fire-arms they each carry a stick about eight feet long. They go along the old-fashioned worm-fences that skirt the woods,—a crop of wheat or of buckwheat has just been gathered, and the little Hackee is busily engaged in collecting its winter store.”