Friday, August 3, 2012

Raccoon Kits, Gray Fox Kits and Skunks at the Feeding Stations

A Raccoon kit looks down from the safety of the tree tops
last year Gray Fox kits frequented the bird feeders at the naure preserve
Gray Fox adult visits one of our hopper feeders
Last year at the nature preserve the Gray Foxes had a den located right near one if our bird feeding stations. For a while, the 4 kits were seen almost daily --checking out the feeders, looking for peanuts and other edible tidbits in the bird seed mix. The mother fox wasn't seen as often as the kits were. Doubtlessly, she was somewhere nearby. She seemed to have a casual attitude about her kits getting so close to a potentially dangerous primate. That wasn't always the case; I recall that some years back a mother Gray Fox growled and barked at me whenever I would inadvertently trespass into her family’s front yard. Gray Foxes are normally very quiet animals. At least in my experience, it’s only when they have young that they tend to vocalize.
Raccoon kits scrounging around on the foot trail near the bird feeders
This year it was a family of raccoons that frequented the bird feeding stations. The family consisted of a mother and 5 kits. The mother was not enthusiastic about my interest in her youngsters and whenever she saw that I was too close she'd give a growl and then lumber off with the kits in tow.

The mother Raccoon investigates the guy with the camera
The raccoon kits would diligently work the ground all around the bird feeders –pressing their noses into the empty seed husks and sifting through them with their dexterous hands, searching for any edible morsels. The main feeder area was kind of like a combination restaurant and playground for the kits, with all kinds of contraptions available to scale up, slide down or teeter on.

When the Raccoon kits became startled they would either run off into the brush or scramble up the nearest tree. There they’d hug a high branch, all the while peering down and waiting for the danger to pass or for someone in their group to signal the all clear.

Mother skunk with one youngster feed back to back at the bird feeders
Sometimes, I'll see a mother skunk show up at the bird feeder along with her young. They typically don't care if they have observers or not. The skunk's well known defensive abilities allow it some degree on nonchalance when in the company of potential predators. What's most amusing about the skunk family is how they travel over land together in a tight line –as if they were one very long skunk or –if you will, a skunk train. I expect that that's probably one train that most people might want to avoid riding.
A Mink complains about the photographer
A few years back we had a family of mink living down near the beaver ponds. I rarely saw them all at the same time, but one day a mother and several youngsters came ambling down the stream side together. Like the skunk family, they stayed tight together as they traveled, except they seemed to be more bad natured about it. They growled and griped at each other the whole time –reminding me of a dysfunctional human family on a road trip.

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