Columnist recounts the shared story of a red fox and a crow

A reader of my column contacted me and told me of seeing a fox catch a crow. A red fox. The crow was on the ground, feeding, and the fox was on the top of a rail fence and from there it got close enough to jump and catch the crow.

Astounding! Crows are smart birds. They are alert and wary. They often spot danger in the woods before other birds, a great horned owl for example, or a hunter, or a bird watcher. When a crow spots an owl or other danger it calls an alarm. Other crows collect and together they harass the danger.

I have often found a great horned owl by going to the alarm calls of a flock, a murder, of crows. Yet here a crow allowed a fox to approach close enough to catch it.

Foxes are smart too. They are described as cunning and crafty. I have read and heart many stories of the cunning of foxes, how a fox escaped a posse of hunters and dogs or got into chicken houses.

The crow catcher was a fox, an animal about two feet long from the tip of its pointed nose to its tail. It stands about a foot high and a bushy tail adds another foot and a half to its length.

It was a red fox, a colorful animal. The fur on the top of a red fox’s head, its back, sides and tail is red-orange. Its muzzle, throat and belly are white and the end of its tail is white. Its feet are black and the margins of its ears and its nose are also black. Both ears and nose are pointed.

The red fox of North America has a broad range, across Canada and Alaska and south over the rest of the U.S. except the Rocky Mountains, the southeast, the coast of Washington, most of Oregon and California, the desert southwest and Hawaii.

I like to see a fox. To me seeing a fox is like seeing an uncommon or rare bird. If I had chickens I’d likely feel differently but without chickens I remember with pleasure most, if not all, the times I have seen a red fox.

I saw a red fox once on a winter day when I was walking in a woods. There was snow on the ground which muted my steps. I topped a small hill and there on the other side of the hill was a red fox. It had a rabbit, recently caught and killed. When it saw me it ran, carrying the rabbit in its mouth and the rabbit left a trail of droppings of blood. I followed for some distance, until it crossed thin ice on a river.

On another occasion, also during the day, I saw a red fox, a hole in the ground and a woodchuck. The fox was between the hole and the woodchuck and the chuck kept circling, obviously trying to get to the hole and the fox circled with it, staying between it and the hole. I don’t know why the fox didn’t attack the chuck, and I never will know. A boy and a dog came along, the fox left and the chuck disappeared in the hole.

A fox den is a hole in the ground or a hollow log or the rotted out butt of a large tree. There the vixen has her brood, about this time of year, brings them food and cares for them until they are old enough and able to follow her and learn to hunt.

Foxes prey on many animals, mice, rabbits, voles and moles, grasshoppers and other insects, ground nesting birds and their eggs and nestlings. Foxes eat grain, particularly corn. They eat frogs and toads and small fish. And at least one has caught and eaten a crow.

Neil Case may be reached at neilcase1931@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *