Foxy Visitors (Warning: Large Photos!)

Maryn

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I like how both foxes are utterly unafraid to approach the camera. "Ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!"
 

mrsmig

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As far as they're concerned, it's just a thing in the yard. Every once in a while one will stare at it, as if they heard it make a noise, but mostly they ignore the cams.

I'm a bit distressed because my pair have suddenly stopped coming into the yard. The last glimpse I had was two nights ago, when Big Boy came in, gathered up a HUGE mouthful of food and then struck off in a different direction than usual. I haven't seen Little Girl at all. A lone fox (who visits so infrequently that I haven't named her/him) came into the yard in the wee hours and scarfed up the remaining food. The following night Big Boy didn't show up at all, but the lone fox did, as well as four HUGE raccoons who feasted on the pieces of liver and kidney on offer. Because I don't want raccoons to become regular visitors, I've temporarily shut down the Fox Diner, although the yard cameras are still running. I haven't checked last night's footage yet - something was out there around 8:30 because I heard my neighbor's dog going batshit - but I am interested to see if there was any activity at all.

I did a bit of reading on the topic of fox dens, and learned that it's not uncommon at all for foxes to move their dens (and families) if disturbed. The yard where I suspected they were denning is usually pretty neglected, but I noticed two days ago that the owners were out in the yard, so it may be that Big Boy and Little Girl were alarmed enough to shift elsewhere. I'm hoping that's the case and that nothing dire has happened to them. I've gotten spoiled from seeing them so frequently, and I miss them.
 

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A link to this thread reminded me that I haven't updated in a bit.

After an absence of about a week and a half, Little Girl and Big Boy started showing up in the yard again, and both have been in and out on a semi-regular basis ever since. Last year about this time fox kits made their first appearances, but thus far I haven't seen any. Little Girl's teats aren't showing any more, so I'm afraid her babies might have died, or she didn't have any viable ones. This makes me very sad, but it may explain why she and Big Boy disappeared for a while.

During the time when they both went missing, I had an array of unfamiliar foxes visit the yard: one with a stump of a tail ("Stumpy," naturally), one big female with engorged teats, and another fox with a bare strip halfway down its tail (my husband named that one "Ringo"). Now that LG and BB are back, it's as if they've reclaimed their territory and the other foxes make only rare appearances. The exception is a frail-looking fox with a patchy coat. I called it "Scruffy" because it looked so down-at-heel when it started showing up: it was shaky on its legs, thin enough that its ears looked overlarge and its shanks sort of caved-in, and sometimes carried itself so its back is slightly arched. It was that last attribute that made me look at it more closely, because it is so reminiscent of the way Wisp (my very mangy fox from last year) used to carry herself. I am wondering (hoping, actually) that Scruffy may actually be Wisp, and that the patchy appearance of her coat may be because she's beaten the mange at last and her fur is finally filling in. Regardless, this fox has been looking much better in the several weeks it's been dining in the yard.

scruffy-smaller.jpg


As you can see, Scruffy's coloration is patchy overall, her tail is a bit thin, and her fur across the shoulders is fairly short, as if it's new growth. Since this May 1st shot was captured, she's been moving much more easily (her hind quarters seemed stiff and the camera actually caught her stumbling once - something foxes just don't do), so I'm hoping getting good, regular meals is helping her - especially if Scruffy is, indeed, Wisp.
 
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MaeZe

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Oh wow! A gorgeous bald eagle just flew right over my head, lower than the tree tops, with a crow chasing it.
 

frimble3

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Did any more crows show up? Usually they mob birds of prey - a hawk appeared in our garden one day, and huddled against the bottom of our hedge. Then we heard the crows, a big flock of them, in hot pursuit. Fortunately they flew past our place.
For egg-eating scavengers, crows run a tight ship - no predators allowed near them.

But one crow taking on an eagle by itself, that's an impressive crow. Long may he flap.
 

MaeZe

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Did any more crows show up? Usually they mob birds of prey - a hawk appeared in our garden one day, and huddled against the bottom of our hedge. Then we heard the crows, a big flock of them, in hot pursuit. Fortunately they flew past our place.
For egg-eating scavengers, crows run a tight ship - no predators allowed near them.

But one crow taking on an eagle by itself, that's an impressive crow. Long may he flap.

No, and I've seen them mob the hawks. It was a single crow and it dropped off behind the eagle then went the other way as the eagle moved away.

I think the crows stay pretty safe behind these birds of prey.
 

MaeZe

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I watched a hummer today feeding on one of my giant firs. It has to be eating sap? I don't think there is any nectar in fir pine cones. It would explain what the hummers that don't migrate eat through the winter.

Or maybe it was eating insects? They feed bugs to their hatchlings.

Anyone know?
 

Maryn

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Not I, but that's a reminder that it's probably not too early to cook up a batch of sugar water for our hummingbirds, until the flowers get going.
 

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I watched a hummer today feeding on one of my giant firs. It has to be eating sap? I don't think there is any nectar in fir pine cones. It would explain what the hummers that don't migrate eat through the winter.

Or maybe it was eating insects? They feed bugs to their hatchlings.

Anyone know?

Not sap; either bugs or gleaning water trapped in the needles/leaves.

Even if they're mostly feeding from a sugar-water feeder, they still need water.
 

mrsmig

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I have a fountain in my ornamental garden and I've seen hummers perch and sip there (bees, too. I recently had a lovely couple of minutes watching a honeybee refreshing itself).

Back to the thread topic of foxes (and incidentally, crows) - here is some early-evening footage of Scruffy being dive-bombed by a crow (and she's absolutely unbothered by it). I've since learned to put out the fox snax just a little later, after the birds have clocked out for the day.

Crow Dive-Bombs Scruffy
 

Maryn

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That video reminds me of the times we had blue jays--they're in the area but not often at my feeders--kind of bullying the smaller birds away, and crows came in to dive bomb just like that. The blue jays were, "Nope, I'm outta here." Crows don't even eat what's in my feeder. Lookin' out for their little bird buddies? Just don't like jays? Who knows.
 

mrsmig

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SQUEEEEEEE! BABY FOX ALERT!

Little Girl showed up in the yard the other evening with a companion in tow: an adorable fox kit.

Little Girl has food; Baby wants it

Baby Gives Great Face

Baby Runs Through Kitchen Yard; Bumps into Deer Netting around Veggie Patch

I think I was wrong about Scruffy. It's not Wisp; it's Big Boy (Little Girl's mate). As he's been eating, filling out and generally becoming more energetic, his habits are much more like Big Boy's than Wisp's: he's begun leaping over my neighbor's chain link, in the casual way he used to, and he's regained his cock-of-the-walk manner. I don't know if he was injured or ill or both before he started showing up in the yard again, but that might also explain why the pair of them disappeared for a week back in April. In any case, I'm keeping an eye on him (he's already gotten a dose of mange meds, just in case).

Scruffy/Big Boy looking much more fit
 

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How absolutely fantastic!

So envious! Thanks much for sharing.
 

mrsmig

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That's one strapping youngster!

I think Baby looks even larger because Little Girl is such a small fox and tends to move with her head and tail down, making her look even smaller.
 

mrsmig

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Haven't updated in a bit - not because there's no fox activity but because it's so regular now that it seems almost commonplace. As the weather's gotten colder and mating season approaches, I'm seeing foxes in daylight more often and there are more territorial fusses. In January/February things should really start to heat up.

I have three regular visitors to the yard now. I think they're Big Boy and Little Girl, my mated pair from last year, and what may be their kit, Baby, grown up. It's hard to tell because they're all in very good shape with (cross fingers) no sign of the sarcoptic mange that's the bane of the local vulpine population. I also have a third cam, which is currently mounted right by my back yard gate and has been capturing some interesting shots. This is Little Girl looking rather wistfully at the kitchen door.

little-girl-at-kitchen-door.jpg


And here is (I think) Big Boy crossing the yard early one morning:

beautiful-morning-fox-small.jpg



Here are three YouTube videos of various foxy shenanigans:

Big Boy Rubbing and Marking in Snowfall

Little Girl and Big Boy Squabbling Over Food

Battle of the Butts

Sniffy Face
 

mrsmig

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It's been an age since I updated, but the foxy activity in the yard continues apace. We've just come out of mating season, and that was highly dramatic. I had a resident pair through most of January (christened Tip and Tess):

tip-tess-in-snow-small.jpg


This is the pair in a light snowfall, recorded on trailcam #2. The big flash of light is from trailcam #3.

beautiful-fox-small.jpg


Tess, pausing in front of Cam 2 early one morning.

Tip and Tess had the yard to themselves for a few weeks, but in February a good-sized fox with a lame leg started horning in on the territory. After some exciting displays and some outright fights, Gimpy chased Tip and Tess away, and the exciting footage was caught on Cam 3: Triple Fox Steeplechase.

Gimpy took over the yard in a big way. I got video after video of him patrolling the yard and marking his territory - he seemed to be everywhere. It wasn't until I got footage of him with another fox that I realized he had a mate, and that she was so similar to him in build and fur growth that I'd been mistaking Friend for Gimpy. They both continued to prowl the yard, eat all the food and mark territory, so that often the yard reeked of fox.

Other foxes would sneak in on occasion, all of them displaying fur loss from mange, which was unfortunate but made them easy to identify. This is Bite Mark, who's got a distinctive bare patch over the left hip:

bite-mark-small.jpg


Other visitors include Rat Tail (missing most of the fur on the tail), Q-Tip (missing most of the fur on the tail except for a big puff at the very end) and Dark Lady, who also has fur loss at the tail but is distinguishable mostly because she's so much darker than the others.

And yes, I called her "she." Now that mating season is over, it's become obvious that every single fox except Gimpy is female, and EXPECTING. I'm beginning to wonder if there's a dearth of male foxes this season - foxes can be monogamous, but they can also be polygamous if the females outnumber the males. It would be too weird if Gimpy was the baby daddy to all these pregnant ladies, but he does seem more tolerant of them, whereas Friend will attack the other gals given the chance. Here's Bite Mark getting schooled.

So...I'm braced (actually hoping for) an onslaught of kits come mid- to late April.

- - - Updated - - -
 
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frimble3

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You'd better be braced, because they'll all be territorial and hungry! Pity poor Gimpy, baby-daddy to all, with them all looking to him for support.
I hope Tip and Tess also find a safe new home.
 

mrsmig

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We're on the run-up to mating season in the fox world and, as always seems to be the case at this time of year, I've had a changeover in my cast of local characters. Through the summer my main players were a pair, Shaggy and Velma, whose activities were limited to visiting the yard at night for snacks and then leaving. Last month a younger-looking vixen showed up, who is such an ingenue in manner that I named her Juliet. At roughly the same time a sleek and much-darker male started making occasional visits. I named him Dude. Shaggy stopped coming around shortly thereafter, and after a few arguments with Juliet, Velma made herself scarce as well. Dude and Juliet had the turf to themselves, and I was wondering if a nascent romance was in the offing, when...

A new visitor wandered in last week. He's such a complete stud muffin - handsome, casual and utterly in control - that I call him Hemsworth (after Chris, not Liam). Having discovered that food is on offer most nights, he's made himself at home. Juliet and Dude are both highly skittish when he's in the yard, so I'm eager to see what develops.

Early this morning all three were in the yard, one after the other, and the trail cam captured some good footage. I spliced them together and made a little video: Three Foxes
 

mrsmig

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[FONT=&quot]One of the youngsters was chewing on a bone in front of the kitchen yard camera last night; she sat up to look down the yard and I was able to freeze frame and capture the moment. She's just so darn cute.

[/FONT]
cher-chews-the-bone-still-small.jpg
 

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*sigh*

I love these pictures so much. A few weeks ago I heard a fair amount of fox barking, not the weird screaming sound, but a fairly short rough bark sort of sound.

I made a bad recording; I should clean it up and see if it's worth saving.