Thursday, July 05, 2007

A tale of a fox which turned out to be two foxes, blueberries, a cat and a catbird

I heard the now familiar cauterwalling, a kind of gaaak, gaaak noise. We would hear that awful and loud noise when the fox cornered our cat in the bushes. I heard it coming down the street this evening and I first thought it was a kid was riding a skateboard down our sidewalk scraping the board on the curbing. As the sound approached our driveway it all of a sudden got quiet for a moment then started up again right at the entryway. I grabbed my camera and was astonished to see two foxes instead of one. The one complaining and not eating was either the less dominant or a baby fox, although it was as big as the other one, and the more dominant one was eating the cat chow and wouldn't let the other have a bite. The catbird which our cat killed earlier in the day was left on the entry for the fox to take away and eat but it chose to dismember it on our mat which was strewn with feathers.

The photos aren't very good. The scene is lit only with the one porch light since I didn't use the flash because it would reflect in the side panes of glass and obliterate the image of the foxes and I forgot to use the night scene mode on the camera. You can see the bird feathers on the entry mat.

The catbirds, I counted at least three, have found the blueberries and have stripped the bushes of every berry with the least bit of color on them. I even saw one pull off a completely green berry! I'm fit to be tied as I haven't picked a single berry in the past few days. I was talking to our good for nothing cat to protect the blueberry bushes, at least the ones next to our deck that those brazen birds go in and out of with total disdain for the cat and are seemingly unafraid of the close proximity to people, as we are sitting there enjoying the after dinner coffee. Well the cat finally decided enough was enough and caught one. So the bird ate the berries and was caught by the cat and eaten by the fox...but that still leaves me with no blueberries.

Just this past weekend 07/08 we saw the carcass of a fox about 3 blocks from our home. It was a roadkill. So that leaves only one. One was killed about 2 months ago, a larger sized animal which was probably the male. The carcass of the one most recently killed looked rather small but it was difficult to tell from a moving car but I think it may have been the kit. So now we have a lone fox but it continues to stay around the neighborhood. I assume it will leave in search for a mate but I have no idea when that will be.

Also, just last week I saw a large fox roadkill about 3 miles from our home. I guess they're more common than I thought and seem to have no idea about how dangerous cars are. Perhaps they are blinded by the headlights?


Blogger DeeMom said...

Shades of Foxey Loxey ;)

6:23 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

and Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky and Henny Penny too. ;)

8:24 AM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Good grief, Ki!! All these interactions with the natural world make for some fascinating blog posts, but aren't you just a tiny bit worried about having foxes so close to the house?

On an old Victory Garden TV show one gardener grew his blueberries in sort of cage made of hardware cloth... I think he could just barely stoop to get inside, but the birds didn't get the berries.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

12:28 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Now that I know there are two foxes Annie, I am a bit worried about our cat. He can climb up on the van parked in the driveway in front of the house and he's safe on the deck in back but if he got cornered at the sides... Luckily the foxes make such a racket I've come to the rescue several times now. I just hope they don't get rabid. They also have a nasty habit of pooping everywhere. My guess is this is the way they mark their territory but it's so nasty to have to pick up poop and wash down the entry.

We just picked up some gauzy material, looks like those nigerseed bag netting used for feeding gold finches. But it looks rather unsightly. I once used deer fencing material the kind that looks like plastic netting and that was aesthetically acceptable but the birds got under the netting. I picked about a gallon of blueberries before the birds homed in so I guess I'll have to be content with that.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Entangled said...

Isn't that fox sound just eerie? We used to hear it late at night and never knew what it was until one time when I decided to get up and have a look around. It was a similar situation to yours - the fox was at the end of the driveway making that sound and our neighbor's cat was hissing and trying to hide in the plants by our front steps.

4:45 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Entangled,
When we first heard the sound it was scary! Eerie is a good word to describe the sound it makes.We didn't know what to make of it. I did see a very large cat so I thought it was a bobcat when we first started hearing that bark/howl. It's amazing that a small animal can make such a racket.

Our cat is probably as big as the fox but the fox has much longer legs and is very skinny - probably no more than 15-20 pounds at most so I don't know why the cat is intimidated by the fox. I guess it's that banshee cry. Our Sharpei terrier mix on the other hand went after something that was under our car and I have no doubt she would attack and kill those foxes if she got free.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Yikes! Scary for your cat (and a definite bummer about the blueberries!) but what a fascinating tale and pictures for your blog post.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Marg said...

Great photos and story. We don't have any foxes around (far as we know) but do have bears and racoons occasionally. Our manx, Ginger, would be no match for either...but he does have his sights set on the crows. They lured him up a very tall tree the other day, only to move onto another one where they
laughed as only crows can do.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kim,
I've rescued the cat about three times now. He stays frizzed up for about 5 minutes after each encounter. :) I was hoping to have a good harvest of blueberries this year as it has been an exceptionally fruitful one but I'm afraid all is lost because I see many catbirds and the cowbirds who also like the berries haven't even shown up yet. I may yet be able to take better pictures of the foxes since they've been around for almost three months now. I'll post them if I get the darn camera set to the right mode.


Hi Marg,
I would love to see a bear! I saw two huge young bucks the other morning. I heard the lid of our small metal garbage can bird feed container that we keep right next to the feeders being dislodged so I ran down into the swale where the feeders are located and there they were, caught in the act. They were so big they looked like small horses with really sleek and shiny coats. My wife later discovered that they had chewed right through the bungee cord securing the small metal garbage can cover. Now how smart is that!? They went straight for the black sunflower seeds. They also chewed off the new growth of the Japanese maple I transplanted there. This is the second time it's happened and they've probably killed the tree this time.

Our cat won't challenge anything that's bigger than a rabbit. raccoons, possums, groundhogs are just something to watch from a distance. Our dog on the other hand would love to have a go at anything except she took off running in the opposite direction when she saw 4 deer until she saw them running in the opposite direction then wanted to give chase. ;)

Thanks for stopping by.

6:22 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

Nice post! I see foxes around here quite a bit, but on the roadway they are so fast, it surprises me when one gets hit.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

I think they must be stunned by the car headlights and can't think to get out of the way. They lope around here. I've never seen one run very fast though I don't doubt that they can if they need to. For all the catfood it's been eating it sure is skinny.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Leo said...

Hi. I just had a close encounter with a fox a few minutes ago here in CT. My 2 cats were outside and I heard the Gaak!! noise that you described. I had heard it before but never knew what it was. I rushed outside to see the fox dash across the road. My 2 cats ran to the door and I quickly let them inside. I went on line and Googled "Would a fox eat a cat?" and that led me to your blog. I think I'll try harder to get them in at night from now on. The fox was definitely bigger than my cats.

7:59 PM  

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