Gray Fox
Urocyon cinereoargenteus

Adolescent gray fox - August, 2003

fox at distance

On a hot August afternoon, the adolescent fox ignores the human while looking for food. Foxes eat prickly pear fruit (the red and purple knobs on the cactus), wild grapes, other wild berries, and large insects along with small prey.

fox looking

"Was that a mouse over there?"

fox interested

"Hmmm...what's this?"

fox eating

"Whatever, it's delicious..."

looking into camera

"Are you still watching me? And what is that funny-looking shiny eye thing?"

profile post

The profile pose. "This is my good side..."

Adult female gray fox - March, 2003

fox at distance

I was sitting on a chair just to the right--on that path--watching birds. Suddenly, she was there. This isn't the first time I've seen her, but it is the first time I've had the camera with me. Except--it wasn't exactly with me. It was in my pack, in the shade, about 10 feet to my left. Loud internal noise of chewing self out. Could I possibly get to the camera before she bolted?

fox through branches
Trying to move like the sloth in the Flanders & Swann ditty, I oozed from my chair toward the camera. The fox lifted her head and stared at me; every time she did, I froze in place. Every time she dropped her head to eat, I moved. But slowly. Finally, I reached the screen of dead branches, crouched, turned the camera on and set the zoom to maximum. Then I began edging back out, and took this picture as soon as I could see anything through the branches.

fox eating
Gray foxes are supposed to be nocturnal, or at least crepuscular. The picture was taken at noon on a sunny day. This fox shows up most often between 10 am and 3 pm, less often in early morning or late evening. Is this because the fox is now habituated to us, or is this fox unusual? She's eating corn out of the birds' ground feeder. By checking after watching her eat, I noticed that she leaves the sunflower seeds and eats larger pieces, or whole kernels, of corn.

fox drinking
She is drinking from the wildlife waterer we made--the "solar waterhole" shown on other pages. A three-tier cascade, partly rock-lined, with a recirculating pump--powered by a solar panel-- in the bottom reservoir. I think this is the third time I've seen a fox drinking from it. You can really tell she's pregnant in this picture.

fox walking away
Using the cover of the juniper, she quietly walks away, staying under the juniper, half-circling it, to come to a line of shrubs she can follow into thicker brush. One of the best things about seeing a fox out here from time to time is seeing how relaxed, how at home, they are. Unlike foxes seen in zoos or any kind of confinement--or foxes scooting across a road--this fox (or these foxes...since I can't tell one from another) are clearly at ease here and have come to accept a silent human observer as part of the landscape. They're nearly aways aware of us (they turn now and again and look at us with their odd, pumpkin-colored eyes) but they're not alarmed. Not tame--move or speak, and they quietly slip into cover and away--but not panicky.

I've only panicked this fox once. She had walked across this clearing, stopped for a drink, and then moved off to the left, up into a low slope of elbow-bush. I thought she'd gone. After awhile, I went over to the waterer to refill it. She had, apparently, decided to curl up and take a nap in the sun under a leafless elbow-bush that winter afternoon, and woke up with a start when I walked past her (I didn't see her until she broke and ran about five yards upslope, then stopped and looked back. The look she gave me was very much "What were you thinking, you clumsy oaf! You woke me up!!") I went on, worked on the waterer, and glanced up to find that she'd come back a little ways and was sitting up, watching me over the tops of the dead weeds. I stayed still until my knees seized up, then apologized to her and got up as slowly as possible. She turned and slunk off upslope, into deeper cover.

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