Saturday, January 2, 2010

An Early Morning Visitor in the Garden

It was 7 a.m. and the snow was lightly falling. As I sat watching the morning news and eating toast with strawberry jam for breakfast, Luther gazed outside the kitchen window.

Within  minutes, Luther's demeanor changed from neutral to breathless as he jockeyed for a better viewing position. The look on his face was more excited than his expression when he sees one of my neighbor's cats roaming around.

So I leaned toward the window, just in time to see a beautiful red fox pacing inside the large, overgrown garden enclosed by a waist-high picket fence. It's just six feet from the north side of the house. He must have jumped inside. It was clear he was looking for a way out that wouldn't require jumping  Like so many wild turkeys that refuse to fly when they can walk, I guess the fox didn't want to expend any more energy than was necessary.  Within a few seconds, he found the gate ajar and slipped out.

I watched as he headed back up the slope, into the woods from whence he came. I hurriedly finished my breakfast, opened up a pricey can of cat food the cats turn up their noses at and put it in on a plastic plate. Then I threw on my coat and grabbed my camera.

I left my food offering at the edge of the brushy area that borders the backyard. Perhaps it's unlikely the fox will return and find the food before squirrels or crows do, but I wanted to try, anyway.

Although the snow has already obscured the finer details of the fox tracks in the photo above, I learned two important things about fox tracks: 1. Unlike most other four-legged animals, fox tracks appear in a nearly vertical line, and 2. The tracks themselves are quite round, more like a cat's than a dog's.

After examining these tracks, I realized happily there were more fox tracks elsewhere in the yard. I often see tracks in winter I do not recognize; now, I'll recognize these.

The fox sighting has renewed my interest in baiting the mouse traps in the garage, it's something I can get quite lazy about, especially when, roughly half the time, the mice eat the peanut butter so delicately the trap isn't sprung. But any mice I do catch could be tossed in the same area where I left the cat food. Perhaps the fox, a welcome visitor not seen on my property for at least 10 years, will find them and make Owl Hollow a regular stopover.


  1. Hi, I came upon your blog via Blotanical and happy to have done so. I'm looking forward to your posts. Happy New Year. Diana

  2. Thanks, Di. I appreciate your support.