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Raiders of Berta Ridge

April 30, 2017

You may be thinking, “What is this in the tree?” We wondered, too. Here’s the story:

GreyFox 7

We saw a crow cawing, swooping and diving over an oak tree near the top of the canyon, below the fire break. I grabbed my binoculars, thinking that I would spot one of the resident hawks, bothering the crow with it’s presence. Imagine my surprise when I spot a very bushy gray tail wGreyFox zoom 2ith a black stripe down the middle.

This could only be one thing: a gray fox.

Wait a minute: a fox up in a tree? Yep, this one was about 30-40 feet off the ground, and from what I could see through the binoculars, it appeared to be raiding the crow’s nest. The distance made it hard to get a good look, so we set up a spotting scope. By this time, the fox was done raiding, and had settled in for an afternoon snooze in the tree branches, swaying in the breeze.

According to the AudGreyFox6ubon Mammals iPad app, the gray fox is the only American canid (dog family member) with true climbing ability. They are known to forage in trees, and take refuge there, too. Seldom seen, as they are usually active at twilight and at night. We first saw one about seven years ago because it was making a terrible racket, screeching/howling, which made us look outside to see what was going on. We’ve also caught one on the trail camera, but we usually see more red fox more often than gray fox.

Gray foxes have a typical foxish omnivorous diet: small rodents, grasshoppers, crickets, rabbits, and lots of plant materials. In this area, this probably means berries from manzanita, cotoneaster, and pyracantha. And, apparently, they like eggs.

While the crow seemed quite distressed by the gray fox, the crow itself is often a raider of bird nests, too. It’s part of the cycle of life on Berta Ridge, and we were happy to catch of glimpse of this handsome fox, living quite comfortably in the neighborhood, helping to keep the rodent population under control.

Here’s a trail cam video from our backyard of a gray fox :

Gray Fox from Carolyn Shimek on Vimeo.

Audubon Guides for your iPad

From → Mammals

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