• November 24, 2014

Barking fox has us feeling close to nature again

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Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 4:30 am

At first, my wife and I couldn’t figure out the sound. It was like a cross between a cawing crow and a barking dog — kind of high-pitched and raspy.

And it was coming from the pasture across the street from our house.

We initially thought it might be some kind of large bird, but it was really loud and we only seemed to hear it at night.

Then one evening, we figured it out. We saw a young gray fox run across our neighbor’s driveway, scamper across the street and into the pasture. A few minutes later, we heard what sounded like a whimpering puppy, followed by the strange barking sound from the opposite end of the pasture. More whimpering, and then the barking sound again, but now the two sounds were nearer to each other.

As it turns out, the sound was the momma fox calling her pup. Based on the whimpering, he had somehow gotten separated from her.

One night, we heard the barking going on for several minutes. The next night, we didn’t hear it at all.

We figured junior must have strayed too far afield, and now maybe he was grounded.

It’s always interesting living in and around nature. Since we’ve lived in our current home, we’ve seen a variety of livestock in the neighborhood — squirrels, possums, skunks and hawks.

In the past year, we’ve seen gray foxes scurrying across our back yard — usually accompanied by angry blue jays, who swoop down, tap their heads and scold them as the foxes head back to their habitat across the street. Occasionally, we’ll see a younger fox running through a yard or along a curb at night, out foraging for something to eat.

They’re actually kind of cute — like small dogs with large ears and a long, bushy tail.

But what my wife and I really appreciate are deer. We’ve seen a few grazing in the pasture at dusk and sometimes early in the morning — especially after a good rain. But their appearances are too few and far between for our liking.

Before we bought our current house, we lived out near Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir by the old Lakeview Golf Course. The area was a haven for wildlife, especially deer.

It wasn’t uncommon to find does and their little fawns walking through our front yard or sitting in the shade under one of our trees.

My wife and I loved having them around the neighborhood, as did our cat, who became accustomed to seeing them right outside our windows.

Whether we saw them in the yard or by the roadside, we’d always stop and talk to them, and it seemed as if they actually listened — at least to my wife. They’d stand there with their ears moving and looking at my wife intently while she spoke quietly to them. They didn’t know quite what to make of it.

On several occasions, a doe jumped the fence to our backyard and stood on her hind legs to lick the seeds out of our bird feeder. It was quite a sight whenever we caught one in the act.

Every now and then, we take a drive through our old subdivision around dusk to see the deer coming out of the brush to look for food. We still roll down the windows to talk to them — and they still stop and listen to my wife.

It never fails to make us smile.

We miss living in our old neighborhood, but we still have plenty of critters to keep us company.

Even though we’re living in the middle of a bustling city — with all its construction sounds, traffic noise and police sirens — it’s always nice to hear the occasional call of the wild.

That is, as long as it’s a suitable distance from our house.

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