My confinement tactic has most assuredly worked. At about 6 this morning, I heard the chickens making their predator calls, so I went out to check on them. Who was sitting next to the pen but one of the foxes! Fortunately for the chickens, the fox apparently can’t get into the pen, and being shut in is, indeed, preventing the chickens from putting themselves in a spot where the foxes can get them. The fox seemed a bit irritated, and was surprisingly not frightened of me–just a bit wary. The camera, of course, chose that moment to die, so I was unable to get any pictures of the beautiful little predator who was posing so nicely.
We stood and looked at one another for a few minutes, me curious and the fox curious but cautious. This pair is, of course, red foxes, that being what is native to Virginia, but they seem to be the cross color morph, which is mostly black/silver with red shading in some spots, so they’re rather striking. The legs are long compared to the body, and very delicate and slender–it’s easy to see why foxes have caught human imagination. I’m not sure what about me fascinated the fox, but we stayed and stared for a bit before the fox ran off into the brush.
Apparently it didn’t go very far, though; it just went far enough I couldn’t see it. And then–then it basically yelled at me. That’s the only way I can describe it. It sat in the brush and barked at me with that terrible, hoarse bark that foxes have.
It’s a really awful noise, what my husband described as “a pack a day cougar scream,” and will scare the beejezus out of you if you don’t know what it is. When it’s up close, it’s even worse. It was unnerving even though I knew what was doing it and I knew that the fox wouldn’t hurt me. It’s still boggling to me that something so beautiful and delicate has such a harsh, cutting call, but that’s probably something that shouldn’t be too surprising. The natural world has a tendency operate that way, and the things we see as the most beautiful often have a terribly harsh side to them.