Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fox Uncertainty, May 31, 2009

Well, my hunch is that the male did not stick around. Of course, I am not positive. I cannot track these little guys and, because mom is gone, their morning habits have changed. Hours pass before I really know the little ones are still here. If they are still using the den, I wonder of their attachment to it is getting weaker
since there is not a regular food
supply here. So much to ponder,
and not a very happy, certain time.

Yesterday evening I wanted to see if the pups were still using the den. Perhaps the male took them somewhere else. If not, maybe they wandered off in search of food. I put a small handful of dog food just inside the main den opening beneath my front door. After an hour I heard a commotion and went to look. One of the bigger fox pups stood spread-eagle over the food, eating, body shaking, and fiercely growling between bites. Two others, including Little Fuzz, the smallest, circled, trying to get a bite. At one moment the guarding fox turned and tangled viciously with one of the others. This strong fox was not about to share. The others continued to circle and slightly tremble. Hunger. They seemed very hungry, I thought. I did not know, though, if this is also natural fox pup behavior at this age: learning to be aggressive around food.

After the one fox ate all the food, the others were allowed in to sniff around. Soon all three wandered off. I felt so sad to see the littlest one disappear through the shrubbery. She was so tiny, such a little morsel for some other hungry animal.

Nature intends for parents, be they plants or animals, to produce more than can actually survive. The intention is to replace one's self in a lifetime, unless the habitat can support a few more on a certain year. All the rest become food to raise other babies and keep other potential parents alive. So, in a litter of five pups, it is nearly certain that not all will live. The feistier, more alert, and in the case of tiny foxes, the ones who learn to look up, will have the best chance. Humans are notorious for falling in love with small, helpless, cute things and I am one of them. You, most likely, are too.

Last evening, my partner Larry brought me a whole chicken. Organic, I requested. This morning I chopped it into tiny morsels with my cleaver (that long ago Chinese cooking class came in handy). I put several pieces out, this time scattered over a wider area. All remains quiet but for a yellow warbler and wrentit singing. This marsh and river are beautiful in the fog and an unusually large number of water birds are feeding there.

Here is a photo taken very late in the evening (sorry for the blur) of Little Fuzz waiting for a chance at the dog food. I took the other photo from my window to convey the quiet and the birds this morning.


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