California ground squirrel alarm vocalizations were recorded in field and laboratory, and sonagraphically analysed. The contexts of both naturally occurring and experimentally elicited calls were noted in the field. The components of this graded system are chatters, chats and whistles. Chatters and chats are often elicited by terrestrial predators, whistles commonly by low flying raptors. Whistles are more commonly associated with cryptic behavior and flight than chatter-chats, but both call types usually elicit bipedal alert postures. These calls grade along a number of dimensions which may signal redundantly the level of excitation of the caller. We propose that the chatter-chat calls of highly aroused squirrels are composed of more and longer notes, occur at a higher rate, are less noisy and contain more frequency modulation. Whistles, however, are single-note calls that contain no frequency modulation, even though they are emitted by highly aroused squirrels and are long and noise free. Preliminary data suggest that: 1) chats are easier for a human ♀ to localize than whistles; 2) elevation of the head, by adopting bipedal postures and mounting promontories, enhances the audibility of alarms.