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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Woodchuck love Part III: The saga gets confusing

Male woodchuck
(Seneca Falls, NY 3/12)
I was having so much success with the Cuddeback Capture at a woodchuck hole in my backyard that I swapped it out for a Cuddeback Attack so I could obtain some video and a better insight as to what was happening. I am so glad I did, because I obtained some very interesting video (see previous posts for the beginning of this story and some photos and video). Here is what has happened in the last few days. On Monday, March 19th, I arrived home from work with the borrowed Attack at about 630pm. The still pictures I captured on Monday showed activity at the hole at 630am, 721am, 1228-104pm (with 10 photos), 253-320pm (five photos) and two photos at 450pm. Tuesday, March 20th showed a very different activity pattern with no photos until the afternoon with activity periods spanning 204-215pm, 250-304pm, 435-445pm and 621-630pm.
But Wednesday, March 21 marked a dramatic change in activity. Not only did I obtain my very first pre-dawn phtoso of woodchuck but the camera documented what was essentially a three-hourblock of time with basically non-stop activity. Let's take a look:

I am sorry, I cannot tell if this is the male or the female. Feel free to chime in if you can tell. The video is worth watching, It appears that 'Chuck is actually vocaliing towards the end there...
Early rising woodchuck
(Seneca Falls, NY 3/12)
Here is the associated video:

The next photo was taken at 705am. Notice that the male is emrging FROM the den, This is the first time I documented him completely in the den. Notice how tolerant she seems. First the still photo, then the video:

But only five minutes later she seems far less accommodating. He shows some GREAT scent marking behavior here.

There were no images captured between the two videos shown above. So where are these woodchucks coming from? It appears they have at least one other hole in use for this burrow (I need more cameras!).
Here is a nice video in which the male remains motionless for about 8 seconds. Just when you forget you are watching a video, he blinks.

For the next several hours the story remains the same. The female appears to not tolerate the male. The male scent marks on the trunk and vine. Occasionally the male seems to emerge from the hole. The last images of the day are taken at 956am. Here is the still and video, respectively.

Now the plot thickens. After the above video at 956am on Wednesday, there is nothing captured until 350pm Thursday, about 31 hours later. What happened? Was the flurry of activity Wednesda morning the literal peak of the breeding activity? Did they mate? Is the female still in the hole? Possibly. as stated above, they have at least one other entrance that is not monitored by a camera. The last image of the female I obtained was at 900am on Wednesday. The 956am Wednesday photo is only of the male as is the only woodchuck photo captured on Thursday. I love a mystery!
Only woodchuck activity on Thursday
Lone male


  1. This is fascinating, and I still can't get over the "waggy-ness" of their tails! What purpose does a woodchuck tail play? Now that you've been watching this unfold, I keep thinking back to when I watched this happening a year ago at school. I wish had had a camera then. This behavior of scenting has inspired me to write for seminar!

    1. Also, I feel like this is a Sciurid Soap Opera...


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