Sunday, December 20, 2009

a fox in the snow

I looked up this afternoon from Christmas card writing to see a fox standing at attention in the middle of our front yard. We live on Peoria's West Bluff in the center of town. We've seen foxes before, as we live near the steeply sloped, wooded edges of the bluff. These areas are havens for foxes, groundhogs, hawks, owls, bats, and woodpeckers.

Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are most likely to hunt in daylight during winter, when finding prey becomes more difficult and the vegetarian part of these omnivores' diet dries up.

This one was tall and lean. He lowered his head decisively and then sprinted off across the yard and the neighbor's driveway. His intensity immediately stirred fear, as our white kitty Blaze had gone out an hour earlier. Surely Blaze would be too smart to be fox prey.

When I went outside the fox stood underneath the neighbor's chestnut tree, with a squirrel chattering wildly in the limbs above him.

A few minutes later, I spied Blaze running for the house, his tail puffed out like a raccoon's. When I let him in he plopped down on the rug by the fire and hasn't stirred since.

Andy was cooking a chicken, so I put the gizzards, some apples, an overripe turnip, some wilted lettuce leaves, and a sprinkling of dog food in a plastic bucket. I carried this down to the bluff and set it out. My hope is that the fox can get some nourishment from this, catch some prey, and leave the cats alone.

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