Saturday, July 4, 2009

Chicken Morsels, June 3, 2009

Hello Everyone,

Remember those morsels of chicken I chopped up and scattered for the foxes last Sunday? Big mistake, Erica. Obviously, I have a lot to learn.

Several hours later I peered from the kitchen window just in time to see the last morsel glide away in a raven's bill. Dang. I just committed a very serious offense against nature.

I enjoy Ravens around my estuary. They mate for life and have a language that a very perceptive human could probably learn to understand. Ravens are necessary scavengers, along with turkey vultures, and take care of a lot of dead things. They are beautiful forms and can ruffle their feathers in wondrous ways. I love to draw and paint them.

Ravens, like so many other wild creatures, have been affected by humans. We are a very messy species and leave all sorts of garbage around for ravens to eat, including chicken morsels. This would not be so bad, except that our behavior has led to an explosion of the raven population. Those chicken pieces went to feed more babies.

The snowy plover is a state and federally listed endangered species that typically nests in sand dunes and high, dry beach habitat very close to me. As soon as a baby plover hatches out of its egg, which is laid right in the sand, it must run for many yards to get to the water's edge to feed with its parents. Ravens, which wait for such a moment, often abruptly end this run for life. As a result of both human activities and raven predation, the snowy plover population continues to decline. Very few chicks make it to adulthood around here and there is an effort to educate the public about keeping garbage and other food sources covered. Cringe.

Anyway, the foxes never got the chicken. I ate the rest. Cooked, of course.

Later Sunday morning I went outdoors to load up my wheelbarrow for the trip up the hill to my car. I was delighted to see Little Fuzz eating some food near the wheelbarrow. She glanced up and stared at my feet with a startled look on her face. Whaaaa? I waited for her to raise her eyes to my face to really check me out. As I stood still, she turned back to her food. Look up! I thought. You have to learn to look up! Last year's kits had not learned to look up at this age, either. That seemed very dangerous to me and offered another clue about how vulnerable these little ones are without a parent. I left for the day with a heavy heart.

All was silent beneath the house on both Monday and Tuesday. However, someone was eating the food at the little stations I had set up at three entries into the den. Raccoon? Skunk? I never heard the foxes and so thought they might not be around anymore. I cannot believe how sad I felt at that idea.

Then yesterday I heard somebody under the kitchen. Sure enough, out popped a fox. Here is a photo. Then, Little Fuzz showed up, only not so fuzzy anymore, just little. Here she is eating from a glass pan I shoved into the hole. Both foxes looked well fed and healthy. How were they surviving so well when I was not feeding them regularly?

After dark last night I heard a growling commotion and went out to see what it was all about. With great relief, I saw the big male watching and growling at me as a little one ate from the glass dish. I quickly went inside.


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