Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fox dens in twilight

Just a few days ago, my husband came across these indentations in the snow. They’re holes that lead down to a fox den. The edges are crystallized, meaning something is breathing down there.

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Winter is breeding time for fox and just over a month ago, my husband heard them mating one night. He can tell, you know. They make a certain cry. Plus there was soft seduction music playing in the background.

Here’s what the dens looked like yesterday as I walked towards them at the edge of the property out my front door.

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This looks like a well-established den we have here.

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Here’s a side shot. Look at the one closest to you that has fresh digging. And not included in this photo is the rear door of this den. It’s off to the left.

Now I know that all this may be just a little too exciting for you. So I need you to take a deep breath and calm down. Breathe.

In March, the female fox will give birth to 4-5 cubs and she’ll stay in her den caring for them, not venturing out, while the male brings her food. The cubs are born deaf and blind and their fur is short and dark. When they are about 3 weeks old, the mother will begin to venture out from the den, eventually going longer between forays. One day the cubs will emerge from the den and begin to investigate their surroundings. What’s amazing is that by autumn, the little family will have dispersed and split off into their own directions and the den will be abandoned until the next female comes along looking for a place to birth her pups.

And to those who wrote hoping for some photos of fox, well that’s a chance in a thousand! They are so elusive. And frankly, I find it amazing that their den is where it is.

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They’re almost on the edge of the woods. This is looking west as the sun is setting. As you can see, there’s still small patches of snow lying about. We had a beautiful afternoon and tomorrow holds the promise of even better temperatures.

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Looking towards the house, the foxholes are just off to the right here.

 

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And you all know who this is. This was taken by Blue Girl’s grave, facing the back of the house. Sometimes we wonder if this wasn’t used as the main entrance door a long time ago. Oh, and Blue Girl was a beloved dog who lived here a long long time ago. Her grave is just to the left of George and is surrounded by a stand of trees.

We’ll keep you posted on the fox situation. Until tomorrow, my friends . . .

42 comments:

DivaHick said...

Thanks to your pictures, we have now discovered the foxes plaguing the farm across the street are living in our backyard!

I never knew what the dens really looked like.

Thanks!

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

How sweet that you have fox dens there. Fox are welcome in our neighborhood since there are no chickens or any other farm animals allowed in this development.

DI
The Blue Ridge Gal

Pouty Lips said...

What a lovely place to live! I am catching up on my reading so I read quite a few of your posts and it was a very nice visit. Pat George for me.

Maria said...

This is fascinating, hope you do capture them on film one day. BTW, what is their favorite seduction music?

Spruce Hill said...

Oh Kate how exciting! Keep us posted!

Heart of a Cowgirl said...

I, too, would like to see the babies! Your house and surrounding woods are beautiful!

Tina said...

What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing! I'm here in Los Angeles, living vicariously through your blog! The only wildlife we have visiting our yard are skunks.

Char said...

I can't wait to see the kits - how exciting!

Woman in a Window said...

Neat. I almost forgive the fox for eating my ducks. Almost...
Ahhhh, they blame the coons anyway.

Treasia said...

I never knew that is what the dens looked like. thanks for sharing those pictures. Have you got a video camera maybe you can set that up some how. Might be time to invest in one of those motion camera's for the foxes. How cute it would be to see baby fox.

Maria said...

That is really neat. Especially your comment about the crystalization of snow around the hole because something is breathing or warm down there.

On my way to work this morning there was a cop on a motorcycle patiently waiting for speeders and just 100 feet from him was a red tail hawk patiently sitting on a streetlight waiting for breakfast. And yesterday I saw my first crocus in bloom. It's spring (although it's supposed to snow here in Kansas City again next week)!!!!

Do you know what your new home's garden looks like in the spring? It surely must have something gorgeous going on under the dirt right now. :-)

Jeannelle said...

I agree....amazing location for fox dens. We sometimes find them way out in our sandy fields, along the fencelines. Certainly, never near the buildings.

cieldequimper said...

What a wonderful post. I never thought foxes would elect to stay so close! Oh and I thought I'd let you know that I'm slowly falling in love with George! Have a great weekend.

The Bramble Patch said...

Wow, I am shocked at the location of the fox holes! You are too funny mentioning the seduction music!

Debra (a/k/a Doris, Mimi) said...

We have sited coyotes several times around here. Because they are not indigenous to Georgia they are open game for extermination. Last spring Doughboy and I were driving less than a mile from our house when we spotted a red tailed fox and two kits exploring the side of the road. The fox had made her den in an old culvert. It was a warm day and she must have taken the kits outside for one of their first times - they were quite tiny. We parked along the side of the road and watched them. It was one of the rare instances that I didn't have my camera with me. Darn! I hope you get some phots, Kate :)

Ellen said...

How cool. We occasionally see them in my neighborhood since there are still woods and some undeveloped land by us. It is interesting to see their den and surprising to see that it is built in the open.

By the way, you clued us in on the "mood music," but how about the lighting - anything special?

Country Girl said...

Glad to be of service, DivaHick. And to those who ask, it was early night and cold. And playing in the background was actually Radiohead playing "Nobody Does It Better".

Those foxes; they like the Radiohead.

Just so's you know, k?

~ C.G.

Kacey said...

LOL, your post just cracked me up. Who knew that foxes needed mood music? Well! I hope you do manage to snag a photo of them though. That would be so cool.

boylerpf said...

We used to have a family of red tailed foxes that ran across our horse field..quite remote. A stream ran through the center and they would come for the water. We never did find their den but it was so great to watch them. They were never afraid of the horses which surprised me.

Hope you can get a picture of the family!

Daryl said...

I am thinking, did you know I was a world unknown authority on fox holes?, yes, I am .. and this is my first public sharing of such ... I am thinking that the dens are so close because the house had been empty long enough to let them feel secure .. I am also thinking they know George lives there and will be extra extra cautious about leaving the cubs ... just aayin' and sharing ..

Mental P Mama said...

Did you take them some wine and a cigarette after? I wonder why George doesn't bother them...I would think he would be going crazy to get them. And who is Blue Girl? Am I not remembering something?

Deb said...

I would watch George like a hawk so he doesn't encounter the mama fox trying to protect her babies.

becky up the hill said...

I found this blog very interesting. Keep us posted on the foxes. I suppose George is very excited too! We have modest little gray foxes here in California. I would imagine yours are red? They do make odd noises, even when they are just dorking around at night.

cottage farm villa (cottagecharm) said...

Kate, where did all the snow go from a few days ago! You posted all that snow on the 4th???? Dang, it melted fast....luckily you played in it when you did!

Funny about the music in the backgroud....always wait for your "little" humor thrown in!! lol

Great photos!!! Love seeing your grounds. Hugs, Cheryl

cottage farm villa (cottagecharm) said...

oops, forgot to mention.....is hubby going to know when the babies are born, cuz we are counting on him to get the "shots" for you to post!! Hopefully we will also get to see them poking their little heads out of the hole! Hubby may need to set up surveillance! :)

The Weaver of Grass said...

Has George been asked for his view of foxes?
I would love to see a photograph, so I am afraid you will have to climb one of those lovely trees and sit there with your camera until those babies emerge into the daylight.

Anonymous said...

Please keep us posted on the fox den. I have never seen one. My Jack Russell, Rocky,was bred to go in fox holes and flush them out. Many a dog like him has gone underground and could not get back out and perished. He loves to dig,but I seldom let him because he is a house dog and sleeps with me and I can't bathe him that often !I am surprised that George has not tried to dig them out. But then, he is a herding dog,and his talents lie elsewhere. Enjoyed the pic's. Doris

rebel said...

Fox are beautiful animals but if you live on a farm or love your cats, they can be a plague. We have several litters of either red or gray fox in our area each year. Last summer it was red fox. The pups stayed till fall and loved my chickens! Fox are also known to like cats, who are especially a treat early in May and June.
We have never killed any of the fox and enjoy seein' 'em BUT they are not so sweet!

rebel said...

Also, once the pups are old enough, you will see 'em. They are too young to know to be afraid of humans.

Barb said...

My first (but not last) visit to your blog. We have many red foxes coming through our property which seems to be part of their hunting range. Also, I'm afraid some of my neighbors may be feeding them - a few are too acclimated to humans for their own good.

Hope you see the kits when they emerge. Be wary of George getting too close.

Country Girl said...

No, they aren't afraid of the horses, are they? They are entities unto themselves, loners, very cool and aloof. But a pain in the ass to people who have chickens. Daryl, it was really quiet here for awhile and for a time the house may have stood empty but not for that long. It's just very quiet over where the holes are. We'll try to get pics but I can't promise anything!

WELCOME to Becky up the Hill and to Barb. Glad to meet you.

And Doris, yes, George's talents lie elsewhere. If anything, he may be amused by the fox. His predecesor, Ralph, sure was. Our other border, Ralph, would run if he saw a fox crossing through the paddocks and the fox enjoyed playing a game with him. The fox knew that Ralph wasn't permitted inside the horse paddocks so the fox would taunt him from inside the field. One day Ralph got so worked up that he went under the fence, completly surprising the fox who took off.

MP, I'll let you know about Blue Girl but there's really not much to say other than she was the beloved family pet of the family who lived here for the past 40 years.

~ C.G.

Country Girl said...

Oh, almost forgot. Yes, the snow has melted! On Monday, we had 8 inches of snow on the ground and today, well there's a few remnants lying about, but it's gone, baybee!

Bush Babe said...

Totally fascinating! We have the occasional fox around here (mostly dingoes though) and have never spied a den... now I'll know what to look for though!! Great pics.

An invite to come on over to my place to play a silly game - there's loot!
:-)
BB

Bush Babe said...
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noble pig said...

But what was the name of the soft seduction song... I want to know!

Chere said...

At our old house, we had foxes that lived in our back yard. It back up to a cow pasture. We would see the fox quite often. They were the beautiful red foxes.

My husband has a camera that work by motion. He has used it at his feeders at the farm. I do not think they are very expensive. That may be a way to get a photo.

Ellen said...

I love how a few "innocent" photos have led to some hysterical posts. Kate, you have given us all back our imaginations!

Jill of All Trades said...

That is so cool. I just love foxes. We live in midtown and have them in the neighborhoods. I used to see them when I left for Jazzercise at 5 in the morning along side the road. (I used to have a cat named Blue Boy-he was my baby)

Egghead said...

That is so interesting. I have never really seen a fox den but I have seen a family of fox (3 babies) behind my sisters house. They are so cute when they are little...but you are right very elusive.

TSannie said...

I've never seen a fox den before! So glad you shared that.

Sue said...

My first view of the stone part of the house...I'm loving it...I have missed so many posts by not being on the blogs since last week...I managed to get a highly infected finger from potting some basil and I'm trying my darndest to keep from having surgery to remove the infection....so I have missed you and your beautiful pictures and post and hope I will be back to normal soon...SUe.

sunny H said...

How did the foxes turn out? Did they bother your cat?

I have a fox den not 35' from my house and am worried sick because I know that one of my cats was eaten by foxes a few years ago. I saw him confront one of them several times and actually chased it away. Once, the fox was sitting in my daylilies barking at the cat which was stalking it, believe it or not.

Fox barks sound like coughs, they are very distinctive which was what caught my attention so that I noticed what was going on.

One December day they got him. I never found a trace and he was a big strong cat :((( I'm thinking of putting mothballs or something in the den hole to encourtage the foxes to leave.

They are beautiful, but I really do not want to lose another cat to them.