Fox Family 2017

Over April Vacation, I spied a pair of cardinals hanging around my bird feeder.

In the 26 years we’d owned the campground, I had NEVER had a pair of cardinals visit me! To say I was excited was an understatement!  When I saw the male feeding the female during their courtship, I was in love. I couldn’t wait to photograph them.

It didn’t take long for me to realize, though, how skittish they were. I swear, I’d put a finger on the house window to open it, and they’d be gone. For hours.  But I had a plan . . . my cloak of invisibility! A camouflage colored cloth that covers me from head to toe, with a looking window and a slot for my camera.

Early one morning, I found a spot among the bushes in front of the house and I waited.  And waited. And waited.  Juncos came. Blue Jays were fooled into visiting. Chickadees and sparrows and even the flycatcher that likes to nest in the eaves of our workshop, stopped by to snack.

Just as I was about to throw off the cloak, I saw a flash of orange from the edge of my lawn.

But she hadn’t seen me! The cloak did it’s job!

Soundlessly she entered the front yard, hoping to catch some little squirrels, or perhaps a mouse eating seeds.

Well, she couldn’t see me, but she quickly heard me.

The click, click, click of my camera caught her ear .  . . they have very good hearing. And I wasn’t far away at all.

The fox visited my front lawn several times over school vacation week. This isn’t the first time we’ve had April fox sightings. Their den is nearby and just after the kits emerge, the adults tend to hunt closer to home. But the minute my campers start rolling in, the fox finds a new trail to hunt from.

I went to check the den often toward the end of April and the beginning of May (but always from afar) hoping to catch sight of the kits.  I even sat on a tree stump under my cloak of invisibility one day –  for two hours!  The adult walked by, but never even looked toward the openings in the banking. I told my husband that day that I’d given up hope. “They’ve must have chosen a new location.”

Then one afternoon, after closing up the campground store, I told my family I was heading to the lake to photograph the eagles. But as I stepped of the porch, I turned toward the fox den instead. I hadn’t yet taken down the trail camera, I reasoned. “Today’s a good day for it,”

That day turned out to better than I expected. Because there, playing on the banking, were the kits!

How adorable are these little buggers?

There were five in all!

They wrestled, nipped each other’s ears and pounced. If a strange noise filled the woods, they were in their den in a flash, only to come back out again the minute it passed.

Their antics had me giggling silently. I could have watched them all day!

What do you suppose these two are looking at?

I hope the hustle and bustle of the campground doesn’t stress out the adult foxes, causing them to move to a new den. I’d love to watch these little ones for a bit longer and collect some behavior to talk about with readers at next year’s school visits.

Oh, and by the way, I did finally capture those elusive cardinals . . .

I sure hope they stick around awhile, too.

Edited to add:  The fox family did move shortly after I’d written this post.  I sure do wish them well.

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