Gray Fox Report for March 2019
Gray Fox Pair Settling In
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The pair of gray foxes are here to stay along the creek. They have scat marked their territory and I have found plenty of evidence both visually and on trail cameras. I see through the cameras where they’ve urine marked places along the way too. This pair, as long as tradition remains but that’s no guarantee, will occupy this region until they are overthrown by another gray fox most generally a pup of their own litter (I have witnessed that live), or they die either from disease or of old age. Gray foxes have a tendency to be monogamous.
At the end of last month, I noted in the Gray Fox Report that I was able to distinguish the male from the female. Further, into March, I gained more evidence as to which was which. The female, the one I now call Big Eyes because her eyes are like two shiny marbles whereas most gray foxes have a slight slant to their eyes is pregnant. She is very skittish whereas he is far less. I wondered why that was so and have for now “concluded” that: 1. She is aware that she is pregnant, and 2. as such she is even now before those pups are born, protecting her litter, by 3. feeling a heightened fright and running off into the safety of the brush. On the other hand, he has no such need to respond in such a manner and thus he is more willing to come from the brush and watch as I care for my trail cameras.
These two young gray foxes, most likely born over near Shoreline or even as far off as Moffett Field, act like playful “teenagers” and as well show affection for one another. It happened that one recent afternoon I was out setting up our trail cameras with another person. Both Big Eyes and her mate were across the ditch, back under the canopy when she came to him, her ears laid back, her belly close to the ground, swishing her tail, squeaking, and coming up in a submissive gesture beneath his chin. I said, “Did you see that? She likes him.” My friend asked, “And how do you know that?” I described the meaning of each part of her gesture and said, “Over the years of watching and documenting these foxes it has allowed me to see a little bit into their nature.”
And so, the saga of Big Eyes and Laimos has begun. They lead Chapter Two. We will follow them and their pups, watch those young ones develop from the small blind and deaf bundles of dark grey 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 are:
- 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