Foxes of Milwaukee, and bonus Vulpes

Reader Gregory sent me this video of fox and kit and a brief description:

We had a female fox and her kits living under our garage here on the East Side of Milwaukee last year. I caught quite a bit of video. Here is one bit for your enjoyment.

And my colleague Steve Pruett-Jones called my attention to this winner in the 2012 National Geographic photo contest (via NPR):

Picture 1

Photo and caption by Micheal Eastman

Caption: With his exceptional hearing a red fox has targeted a mouse hidden under 2 feet of crusted snow. Springing high in the air he breaks through the crusted spring snow with his nose and his body is completely vertical as he grabs the mouse under the snow. Location: Squaw Creek, Park Country, Wyoming

He probably used the same hopping technique we saw the other day in the video of Foxes on a Trampoline


  1. gbjames
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    Now we know how they grow foxes on fox farms!

  2. JBlilie
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I may have missed this in the fox postings.

    Can we get a video with audio (or just an audio) of a fox vocalizing?

    Once, when I was young, a friend and I were hiking at night (not using the lights we had with us, bascially just hiking under starlight). We heard a fox howl or holler and it was the creepiest call I’d ever heard up until then (and maybe ever.) Absolutely blood curdling.

    At least I think it was either a red fox or a gray fox.


    • K
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      If you watch the video on Youtube, this video is in the sidebar queue – –

    • jesse
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Depending where you live, you might not only investigate fox sounds, but also the sounds that barred owls, bobcats, screech owls, and raccoons make (all from U.S.). Some of those live in areas where you wouldn’t expect them to live.

      Once I was walking at night in a suburban Chicago area, and heard something that sounded like a monkey doing really loud fake puke noises. It was unbelievable. Later during a nite-time birdwatching (!) outing, I realized it had been a barred owl.

    • jesse
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      I just watched Reader Gregory’s/Jerry’s embedded Milwaukee fox video on this post, above, and after it finished, youtube presented a video in the lower left corner as another choice… it’s titled “Scream of the Red Fox” and it showed a red fox screaming right at the camera. This might help you!

    • JBlilie
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

      Thanks everyone, more shortly …

    • JBlilie
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Thanks all. I listened to the set of fox calls on youtube linked by “K”.

      I’m virtually certain it was the “Vixen’s Scream.” (Well named.) The second version played on the linked video/audio is close to what I remember.

      (I also listened to some grey fox calls and they are not close. I also listended to bobcat and raccoon calls. I’ve heard some of these before outdoors.)

      That night it was pitch black except for star light. The call was very close and very loud. It sounded like a woman being murdered. A horrible, blood-curdling scream; turned your insides into jelly. The recording gives no sense of the effect it has on one in the outdoors in the black night. I suppose it didn’t help that I was 18 at the time!


      • jesse
        Posted January 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        That’s funny.
        Do realize, too, that there are regional “dialects” of birds and mammals too. Blue Jays’ “rusty pump calls” sound different all over, and the barred owls I’ve heard on DVDs don’t have the same accent as the ones I hear in my backyard.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted January 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          So you’re saying some barred owls make fake African monkey puke noises, while others make fake Brazilian monkey puke noises?

          • jesse
            Posted January 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

            No, I think some barred owls make puke noises and other barred owls make barf noises.

  3. starskeptic
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    “failure to lunch”?

  4. SES
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    We used to watch a fox hunt like this in winter in our snow-covered pasture — the fox, red against the snow, would walk slowly and very carefully, listening; then pause, standing absolutely still, before executing a high, arching jump. The landing, on the two front feet, was very solid; the descending force concentrated on those two front feet, to break through the snow crust. Beautiful.

  5. Posted January 8, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Why are there no paw prints leading up to the spot where the fox dived in?

    • gbjames
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      He was planted in the autumn before the snow fell?

      • jesse
        Posted January 8, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink


        I’ve had hummingbirds stuck in my screening, and a friend once told me she rescued a woodpecker from crusted snow. I think you might have something there.

    • Christian
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Could be the crusted snow, I guess.

  6. heromachine
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    “Day 3: The bushes are beginning to accept me as one of them.” (via Reddit)

    I would guess the paw prints are not visible due to the angle and the white balance. They just kind of get simultaneously hidden and washed out.

  7. Owlglass
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Love foxes, keep them coming. The internet is into cats, some other blog is into cephalopods (which I also like), so foxes are a very good choice.

    We have a lot of them even in Berlin, where I meet at least one every evening when I come home from work. They seem to have figured out how traffic lights work and aren’t really shy (but keep a respectful distance of a few meters, of course).

    I wonder how the second fox got stuck there, but it illustrates nicely that in fable they are both clever and foolish (the trickster archetype), which links them, incidentally, to my nickname 😉

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Oh, it’s not stuck. Probably not even a momentary pause, just that the photographer was shooting in rapid sequence mode and had multiple opportunities to get one just so.

      If you look at the NGS YouTube video mentioned in the comments, you’ll see how it’s done.

  8. Stephen Barnard
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    One of my d**gs, a Border Collie, uses this technique to hunt mice. He repeatedly jump high and come down nearly vertically with his front paws to stun the mouse. Being black and white, he looks for all the world like that animated cartoon skunk, Pepe Le Pew (who was in love with a reluctant cat). A Malamute I once had did the same thing.

    • JBlilie
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I have seen border collies and Australian shepherds do this too.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      It is how polar bears break through ice to get a tasty seal for dinner.

      How better for a carnivorous quadruped to grab a concealed morsel of food that will try to get away?

  9. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I found two more images that show the red fox in flight prior to achieving the face plant above:-


    This site might belong to the same Michael Eastman:- EASTMAN IMAGES ~ great pics there, though I couldn’t find any foxes

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      NOTE:- I’m cautious about Eastman Images because NG credits a Micheal & not the more usual Michael

    • JBlilie
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink


  10. Billy
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    For those who haven’t seen it before, here id a clip of an Arctic fox hunting in the snow

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Actually, a Red Fox in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming.

      • Billy
        Posted January 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        Yeah thought it was a bit red. I did searcg for Artic fox though as there is a much better clip out there that I couldn’t find

  11. Notagod
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    The picture that Jerry sent to my computer has some bushes in the snow with a rather large pussy willow in the center of the picture. Which is certainly a nice picture but could I please get the picture of the fox that folks are discussing?

    • gbjames
      Posted January 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink


  12. Diane G.
    Posted January 8, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink


  13. Posted January 9, 2013 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    Find the three to four critters fleeing from the foxes in the video.

    • gbjames
      Posted January 9, 2013 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      The other two kits appear in other video clips, not this one.

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