Distracted by Nature - UPDATE November 11, 2018

My biggest distraction when I’m trying to do work that people tell me to do is the nature outside the window. Gray foxGray foxThey’re actually good for my health. If they aren’t where I can take a picture from my desk, I have to get up and get blood flowing. Animal minds are the most distracting. When they do something that show learning, body language, or problem solving, I can’t help but watch, knowing I’ll be scolded later for not getting enough done. I know I’m supposed to be the big boss, but things go best if I listen.

Today it was the gray foxes, especially the one with a black dot by the corner of its mouth. I had lined the railing with bologna after dark last night when the blue jays and crows were done for the day. This morning, it was all gone. Had the birds gotten it early before I got here? Then the fox came. It immediately leaped up onto the railing, went higher to get the suet off the roof of the little feeder, and made off down the driveway. Two ravens swooped at it, making it whirl around defensively but it didn't want to drop the suet. It dove into thick cover and disappeared. A little later, the fox was back. It leaped up onto the railing and sniffed the whole length of it where I’d put the bologna last night. I think I know who got it. Then it came back along the railing for a picture as it passed. When it was gone, I put a couple pieces of bologna on the railing. After a bit, it came back, spotted one, stood up and grabbed it. By that time, it was frozen and hard to eat. It bit pieces off, dropping it between bites. Eventually, the bologna fell through one of the spaces between the boards on the deck and was gone. The fox grabbed the other piece and carried it over to the door where there were no cracks for it to fall through, even though there was a scary person just behind the full-length glass of the door. I wanted to see more. As it was exploring, I eased the door open a crack and dropped a slice of bologna. The fox ran a little way down the steps and stopped. It came back and got the bologna and ate it in place, not running off scared with it. I eased the door open and dropped slices a couple more times. The fox caught on. It would go down a few steps each time, wait, and come up straight to it. Then it was gone—probably full. I put out some bologna on the railing and was distracted by blue jays coming for it the next couple hours and making me wave my arms instead of typing. It was a good day.

But I’m confused a bit about Ted. On November 9, I got an email at 11:30 AM saying: “Today, Nov. 9th, Ted didn't get up to eat. I think he's in for his season.” I didn’t hear anything more and put that in the update as gospel. Today, I received a video from a pond chat moderator of Ted eating a great bowl of grapes and other foods on November 9 a few minutes after noon. If the date and time on the video are right, I’m assuming that his noon meal on November 9 was his last meal as he dined in on that snowy day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ug2EWR0rI8k (2:49 minutes)

The photo is the fox walking on the railing showing all that makes it a gray fox—the black tip on the tail, the black top edge of the tail, and the body and head pattern of orange and gray.

Thank you for all you do.

Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center

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