April: Gray Fox Birthdays
Please donate so that we can begin the collaring project. Deadline for donations is September 15, 2019. Your donation is tax deductible. The collaring project needs $25,000 and here’s the reason you need to donate to UWRP?
April, is birthday in Central California for Urocyon cinereoargenteus Townsendi aka the gray fox. Over the period of this month, I have been carefully watching the female Big Eyes, looking for overt signs that she is lactating. About two weeks ago, I caught a photo of her squatting, exposing nearly her full belly region but, unless Big Eyes is different in some ways, I did not see that at least at that time that she and her mate Laimos (Long neck in Greek) were parents. However, there is the possibility that they won’t have pups this year. Frequently, although females are fertile in their first year, they chose to wait a year before settling down to have a family.
Meanwhile, these two gray foxes have extended their turf. In the beginning, they only occupied a region around and within the woods along Matadero Creek. Now, however, about once every-other week when the weather is mild at night one or the other one will show up at the Fox Hollow area over near the water treatment plant. It’s obvious that the fox is hunting. However, I can’t discern which of the two foxes it is because trail cameras at night give black and white videos. They are sometimes a bit pixelated as well. One of the other features of gray fox hunting is that they are solitary hunters. They do not go out as a pair to hunt and that makes sense. If both were in the same area, focused in on the same woodrat, squirrel or vole, they would certainly get in each other’s way.
Big Eyes and Laimos has begun. They lead Chapter Two of our study of the gray foxes. We will follow them and their pups, watch those young ones develop from the small blind and deaf bundles of dark gray fur, into scurrying, chasing, playful pudgy nosed foxes to become adults that can dash up trees with amazing speed, hunt on their own. They will then be ready to disperse, ready to leave their home range, ready to find a mate and ready to have a litter of their own. All within nine months.
Gray Foxes General Health
This pair is young, most likely first-year dispersals. They appear to be vibrant and healthy. Let’s keep them that way.
Total Numbers of Gray Foxes in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve
As of March 31, 2019, we have two resident gray foxes occupying the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.
Update for the Urban Wildlife Research Project – Greg Kerekes & Bill Leikam
Please donate so that we can begin the collaring project. Just go to our website, check out the letter and go to the donate button on the left of the page. Your donation is tax deductible. The collaring project needs $25,000 and here’s the reason why donate to uwrp?
On March 28th, Kevin Webb interviewed me and posted it as a podcast See it here Urban Wildlife Podcast with Bill Leikam, the Fox Guy
Coming up on April 22, Bill Leikam, the Fox Guy, will be presenting A Year with the Urban Gray Fox at the Intuit Corporation’s Earth Day celebration Then the following day he will be speaking at Facebook. On the 14th he will be at Safari West up near Santa Rosa displaying our mounted gray fox Rusty and informing the audience on the secret behaviors of the gray fox.
You can still check out Punch Magazine – Article page 52, about Bill and the work he is doing at the Baylands including what’s next. Many have reported enjoying the article Keeping Vigil with the Fox Guy.
- Check out our Facebook page.
- If you haven’t had a chance to read at least some of the articles that have been written about our study of gray fox behavior and our corridor work, click on these links as they will take you to the source: Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy, and Greg Kerekes & URWP
Section III: Gray Fox, Baylands Goals
Within the permit that allows the Urban Wildlife Research Project to conduct its study of the behavior of the gray fox at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, the objectives covered area:
- Monitoring of urban gray fox denning sites in Palo Alto Baylands.
This is being accomplished during the period when the gray foxes use a den site. It is one of the prime locations for gathering most of the behavioral data on the litter and for adults alike.
- Assessment of status and population trends of Baylands urban gray foxes
Since November and December of 2016, there have been no resident gray foxes at the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.
- Identification of habitat features that promote the presence of urban gray foxes
After considering this and talking with people who know how to restore habitats, we need to assess what kinds of plants, including the Alkaline Salt Bush, would grow best along the edge of the saltwater channel and alongside the marsh. We need to grow a permanent habitat that contains the corridors and plant it as soon as possible. We’ll keep an eye on this as this is a critical link between the southern region of the Baylands and the northern region.
- Assessment of reproductive success and identification of factors that promote successful reproduction
Open up the pinch-point along Matadero Creek by developing thickets that link one area to another, instead of the present “islands”.
- Identification and assessment of possible dispersal travel routes.
Presently there can only be guesses as to dispersal travel routes. We intend to make this important question much more concrete when we attain our collaring/take/capture permit from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Until next month, I hope that your endeavors provoke thought, are productive, and are rewarding. Take care.
Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy
CEO & President,
Urban Wildlife Research Project
a Nonprofit 501 C3