Red foxes are sometimes visible early in the morning as they return to their dens after a long night of hunting. Here in Cow Bay, I’ve seen them at dawn in my backyard, along Dyke and Cow Bay Roads and near Rainbow Haven Beach.
This morning some fox kits could be seen wrestling outside their den. They were born earlier this spring and appear curious about the big world beyond the fox hole. They were likely waiting for their mother to return from her hunt and are probably near the age when live food is brought back to the den for them to practice killing prey. If you’ve ever returned from grocery shopping to a house full of hungry teenagers, you can imagine their anticipation.
Recently I saw and heard a lone adult fox screaming loudly near the entrance to Rainbow Haven Park. Though ‘screaming vixens’ are known to announce their availability during mating season, this usually takes place in winter, so there had to be some other reason why it was screaming so loudly. Was it proclaiming its territory? Coyotes and bobcats will both compete with foxes for food. Residential development in the area is likely encroaching on everyone’s territory and food supply.
A quarter of a fox’s diet consists of invertebrates such as grasshoppers and beetles. They are omnivorous canids that will also eat berries, grass, mice, birds and hares. I’ve found caches of seagull and hare carcasses near their dens in past years. But a hungry litter of four to eight kits, that are regularly expending energy by wrestling, wouldn’t allow for too many leftovers.
However, the woods are full of creatures at the bottom of the food chain and these are reproducing as well. A vole scurried ahead of me as I was walking in the woods yesterday. This hare also leapt across my path. Considering how frequently small rodents and snowshoe hares are finding themselves on the menu of not just foxes, but coyotes and bobcats these days, I’m surely the least of their worries.
By August, the fox kits will have left the maternal den and be out on their own. Which should give their mother a nice long break as she’ll only have to hunt for herself. Until next spring.