Thursday, May 14, 2009


(Click on photo to see larger version.)

"A family of foxes in the heart of Tallahassee", that's what my friend, Ann told me... and exactly where I could find them.
I've seen foxes occasionally and tried to photograph them, but they tend to be more active after dark, and are hard to predict. My best successes to date were sleepy-eyed gray foxes in the oaks at the Tallahassee Museum.

I was psyched. I arrived at the woodsy neighborhood well before dawn and located the den. There was a perfect shrub not far away where I could set up my camera low to the ground on a tripod and sit without being too invasive.

In a few minutes, I spied the rough-and-tumble kits wrestling and chasing each other. Then Mama arrived and made a futile effort to bathe her rambunctious babes who
wouldn't think to hold still. By the time the light had improved, I was an acceptable part of the landscape.

There were five handsome young red foxes who were old enough to have expanded their territory to 3 or 4 lushly-landscaped yards along this quiet street. One seemed more fearless than the others and soon came over to check me out. She got so close - a few feet away - that my telephoto lens couldn't focus, so I just sat quietly. She looked back at her awed siblings, (and I imagine might have stuck her tongue out at them) then sat down next to me to scratch at a few fleas. In a minute she bounded off on another game of chase.

Mama was gone and the kits were wild and mischevious, racing through yards, up on front stoops, diving into the den whenever a car or bike came by, and re-emerging a moment later. After awhile, Mama returned with a freshly killed squirrel. The kits were scattered, but bee-lined to Mama. From a tumbling ball of snarls, tails, teeth, and yelps, one kit shot out, squirrel in mouth, hightailing it, with 4 red-furred flashes at his heels. More yelps and cries from the bushes, and another emerged with the trophy. This game went on for awhile as chasers gave up one by one. I never saw the victor or trophy again, but enjoyed the other exhausted kits as they came back to nap, scratch, and laze around the entrance of their den. At this point, Mama had better success licking them clean. This family seems to be well adapted to life in the suburbs.

Since sending out one of my photos a few days ago, I have heard recent tales of three fox families in other neighborhoods around Tallahassee. We would welcome foxes to our yard - the squirrel population is exploding and the entertainment they'd bring is magnificent.


paddlewacissa said...

I just found your blog, my brother recommended it to me. Your pictures and narration are wonderful. I too would welcome a fox family.

paddlewacissa said...

My brother recommended your blog to me. Your photos are magnificent and I enjoy your narration. The fox photos make me smile.

David Moynahan said...

Thanks so much.