Posts Tagged ‘breed’

Fox Update

I haven’t smelled the scent foxes use as an deterrent for Buffy and/or me. We went out before supper, walked around, even close to the barn, and no strong fox scent.

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These three pictures were taken last year. I’m hoping they return next month. They breed late January into early February. Gestation lasts 51 days.

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So, my fingers are crossed that they return before the young are born in late March or early April.

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There’s an old strip pit behind our house and it goes east for two miles or so. The road makes two right angle turns before it straightens out. There’s a house on the corner. Late last summer I would see the young foxes out playing when I was on my way to Ingram Hill.

So, I figure they have a den back there too … and maybe that’s where they are now. The den that they rear the young in is usually deeper than the temporary retreats.

So, I plan to keep my fingers crossed and keep a watch out for them. I will know they’re back if I see them or if I smell the strong scent they use as a deterrent to intruders.

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Anticipation Rises

It had been so long since I’d seen the foxes that I thought they might have moved to another den. Then, when I least expected it, there lay the male fox napping.

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“As much as I hate to, I guess it’s time to think about getting up.”

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“No need to hurry, though. I’m not completely awake yet.”

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“A long slow stretch feels soooo good after being under the barn for so long.”

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“Nap’s over, and I guess it’s time to find our next meal.”

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Which would be the best route? Through the thicket behind the barn or

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across the backyard to the southeast?”

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Red foxes breed late January into February in Illinois. Gestation is 51 days. Since we live in southern Illinois, I assume these are more likely to bred in January and give birth in late March.

Looks Promising

Things are looking promising for the fox family to den under our barn this year.

I’d been working in the yard this afternoon and sat down to rest. Orange movement in the shrubby corner of the back corner of our 2-acre yard caught my attention. About the same time my presence caught its attention. It went back the way it came. At first it looked like a cat we have in the neighborhood.

It wasn’t long before it headed back toward the barn under more shrubby cover.

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The pair raised 4 kits in their den under our barn last summer. With them being so aware and on alert at all times, I had to take all my pictures through the picture window in my computer room. They would even see me in the house.

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Three were nursing here and the other one … maybe it was already full.

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I couldn’t fool them, even when in the house. She came to the water garden for a drink and let me know she knew I was watching her.

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Buffy knew they were under there,

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and wanted me to help get them out of her territory.

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I took pictures of the family from May 9-24 last year.  According to my Mammals of Illinois book, foxes breed late January and in February.  Gestation period is 51 days, and the young are born in late March or in April. Since we live in southern Illinois, I figure they breed toward the end of March.

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  I sat down at the computer yesterday afternoon, looked out the window and there was a fox coming up from the back corner of our yard! I managed, in all my excitement, to get 3 pictures. It’s cautious actions before going under the barn let me know it sensed me.

Young Red Foxes

Today’s May 9. On May 1st Buffy and I went out in the backyard early in the morning. As we approached the gardens, she took off for the barn. I saw a young fox. Buffy got it around its middle. It yelped. I yelled and Buffy dropped it. This all happened so fast. Thought I caught glimpse of another young one too. The one I saw, right before Buffy got it, was tannish brown and held its tail straight out the back. I hoped Buffy hadn’t injure it.

After that encounter I assumed the foxes wouldn’t stay in the yard. I have seen foxes walk through on rare occasions. They’ve never denned here before that I know of. There wasn’t any sign of activity until the 7th when a faint unpleasant odor came from under the barn, and I found 4 bluejay feathers.

Then last night, while working in the yard, I noticed feathers scattered around out from the opening. All were white, most were small and a few might have been from a wing. The odor was much stronger.

Entrance to den under the barn

Evidence of dinner

Then this afternoon I went out to cut rosemary for zucchini bread and made a loop over to the barn. An animal gave a quick deep growl. I came back in the house. Luckily, I got a phone call a little later and walked in here to the picture window. There was activity at the barn!! ( Please excuse the quality of the picture. I took it through a double-paned window at a distance of 48 yards.)

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Two young red foxes came out to survey the area. They didn’t wander any farther for some reason. Since dens are used mainly while raising young, I have no idea how much longer they will remain here.

An adult fox’s body only measures 22-25 inches long. In Illinois Red foxes breed late January and in February, with the young born 51-52 days later. They usually have 1 or 2 other dens  in case they have to move their young. Their habitat includes open grasslands, ditch banks, unmowed field edges, and brushy areas adjacent to wooded areas. Besides birds (mostly chickens) they also eat small mammals, insects, carrion and fruit. The young will stay with their parents until fall.

Now all I have to do is figure out a way I can do my housework from here at the picture window.

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Well, I didn’t get this posted yesterday as planned. I walked in this afternoon to check for foxes, and one was out of the barn! It only stayed out long enought for one picture… and, darn, I left my garden cart where it was between me and the fox. The picture has better quality because I didn’t zoom in as much and then cropped the picture. Not to mention that yesterday I was practically hyperventilating. Now I’m going to wear a path from the kitchen to the picture window!

Isn’t it cute?