The red fox was back this morning. It was amazing.
I was standing in the kitchen looking out the south-facing windows doing some dishes. She jogged from the forest through our lower meadow up to the pine trees to the southeast of the house. She plopped down and started digging around in the pine needles for something.
Ron was coming in the house just then after opening the chicken coop door. I told him that the fox was back. Because he still had his parka and snow boots on, he went out the mudroom and around the house to the east-facing deck. But that startled Ms. Red so she went sprinting–and I mean sprinting–back to the forest. It was amazing how fast she was able to run, even though she was up to her pits (and even higher) in snow.
She stayed at the edge of the forest for perhaps 30 seconds, but then jogged back to the same pine trees and started digging again. Then she started chomping on something.
By this point we had binoculars in the kitchen, but we still couldn’t figure out exactly what she was eating. A mouse? A rodent? Until we realized that she was eating [wait for it] frozen sheep poop. Yum, yum! It must be winter and she must be desperate if she was eating frozen sheep poop.
She chomped for a while and then walked through the southern edge of my landscaping on the south side of the house. She was something like 30 feet away from the edge of the house!? She then slowed down, listened, pounced, dug, and started munching on something else. It looked like dried up vegetation (plants or weeds from the edge of my landscaping beds). Hardly seemed like good fox food, but as I was watching her, it looked like the dried vegetation was more in a coherent lump. Mouse nest?? With mousies inside??
Mmm, dried vegetation on the outside, mouse protein on the inside?! (Reminds me of that “Far Side” cartoon where the polar bears tell one another that they love igloos: crunchy on the outside, yummy on the inside…).
She munched on the mystery snack for a minute or so and then jogged to another part of the forest edge with the nest (?) in her mouth. She then sat there and ate some more.
By this point, we had been watching her for something like 5 minutes…
But wait! There’s more!
After a few more minutes of snacking on the mouse nest (?), Ms. Red gave up and wandered up to the honeysuckle bush near the southwestern corner of the house where many birds hang out and fly over to our bird feeders. She was definitely looking in and under the bushes, presumably assessing her chances of catching a bird. She scared out a mysterious dark gray mammal, most likely a squirrel and dashed after it. At that point, we couldn’t see her (or her prey) any more because they were on the other side of the western deck.
It was so amazing watching her this morning and particularly for so long. I’ve never seen a fox so close and for so much time. You could see so many details like her dark-tipped ears and legs, her white tuxedo coloring from her jawline to her chest and belly, and that huge, fuzzy tail. And, um, frozen blobs of sheep poop. Again, yum, yum! Ron said there were fox tracks all over our property, including some, ahem, over by the chicken coop. They were especially clear because of the new snow yesterday. Despite worrying a bit about the chickens, we definitely hope that Ms. Red continues to hang out and make her visible in daylight. It’s really amazing to have a nature show in our backyard.