Gray Fox Report: January 2021

Bits & Pieces Along the Way

Submitted by William C. Leikam
President, CEO & Co-founder
Urban Wildlife Research Project
A 501 C (3) Nonprofit Corporation

Preface: I have written so many of these Gray Fox Reports over the years since 2012 or maybe early 2013, I no longer know what topics I’ve written about. If I repeat myself and you catch it, please let me know.

The Gray Fox Stretch

Early in my study of these gray foxes, I sometimes saw them waking from a nap. It struck me that every time one awoke, the very first order of wakeful business was to stretch. As I witnessed them stretching, it was obvious that the pattern was virtually the same in all fox families. Why would that be so? Is it because they pass the technique, the sequence of moves, down through many generations of gray foxes? If so, that’s called meme transfer. Is it a hard-wired genetic response to waking? I don’t think anyone knows the answer to this but from the first time that I saw it played out before me, I thought, “Now maybe we can learn something about being mindful as we awake from sleep, just like the fox. What moves can I make that are similar to theirs? Maybe we should stretch.”

On Changing Color

This afternoon both Laimos and Big Eyes were in the clearing near the fallen tree. Prior to this, I had noticed that Laimos’ coloration was a bit darker than Big Eyes but today the color differences somehow really stood out. Within the community of gray foxes there are variations in color. In order to see these variations, one must be in the proximity of numerous gray foxes for a long time observing them. Laimos is of the dark strain of foxes whereas Big Eyes is right in the middle between the light-colored foxes and the darker foxes. Mama Bold not only shifted color but she shifted physical characteristics. There were times when she seemed to physically change her facial features. These variations in color and physiology seem to hold for the life of the animal, but within their shades/colors between winter and summer there is even variation there.

Cold Nights & Gray Foxes

From the Gray Fox Log Tuesday, January 26, 2021 – Last night in a number of trail camera locations, especially camera numbers two and four located in the overflow channel, there were very few files on the SD Cards and sometimes no files at all such as at camera nine at the saltwater pipe near Fox Hollow. That was hugely unusual for that camera. I wonder if the freezing temperatures might have kept them in for the night. Afterall these critters around here seldom have to deal with such cold as below freezing. On such nights as that, might their prey remain tucked away and for instance the foxes know this and so they don’t hunt on cold nights. Probably not, but as the nighttime temperatures warmed, there was an increase in the number of files.

Bill Leikam ©2013

Gray Foxes General Health

Last month I wrote, “For the past week or so, the female Big Eyes has been limping a little and biting at her right front paw. It looks as if she has something lodged in her paw-pad. If so, it will fester, break and heal.” She is no longer limping.

Total Numbers of Gray Foxes in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve

As of January 2021, we have two adult gray foxes living in the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve.

Section II

Update for the Urban Wildlife Research Project

The collaring project needs in excess of $35,000 and here’s the reason why you should consider a donation to UWRP be it $1 or $5,000 so that we can begin the collaring project dedicated to making the baylands along the San Francisco Bay a healthy place for wildlife to live. You can donate through PayPal or Give Direct, our preferred portal for giving. On our website (Urban Wildlife Research Project), check out the short video and go to the donate button nearby. Your donation is tax deductible.

Check out our Facebook page.

Check out Bill’s interview of January 1, 2021 hosted by the Town of Woodside California for their First Friday event at

Radio interview – KALW (Local PBS) Audio Recording Interviewed by Sofie Kodner during December 2020 – Broadcast 1/11/2021 5:00 PM on PBS’s program Crosscurrents

Bill will be doing an online show, a how to draw workshop featuring the gray fox with the renowned artist John Muir Laws on January 14, 2021. It will air from noon until 1:00 or 1:30 PM.

You can access Bill’s PowerPoint presentation Corridors & Connections: Sustaining the Health of All Wildlife presented during the October 24th P-22 Urban Wildlife Festival here:

NEW – To find out more about us, search Urban Wildlife Research Project, UWRP, gray foxes, wildlife connection, linkages, corridors and several documentaries and clips on   

If you haven’t had a chance to read 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 of the litter and for adults alike.

  • Assessment of status and population trends of Baylands urban gray foxes

Since January 2019 a pair of resident gray foxes have claimed territory 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.

Bill Leikam – The Fox Guy
CEO & President,
Urban Wildlife Research Project
A Nonprofit 501 C3