A coyote walked past Mitchell cabin five minutes ago, which brings up the question: what other critters are around at this time of the year? Summer will begin Friday, but on this hill some creatures still have quite a bit of spring in their step, as these photos from the past week illustrate.


A female gray fox has become a daily visitor to Mitchell cabin.

Foxes are tricksters, as many cultures realize.

And the expression “crazy as a fox” has been around far longer than any of us have.

So it was no accident when Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp decided to call its off-the-wall reporting “Fox News.” ____________________________________________________________

Finding dinner ready on the picnic table.

This vixen shows up in late afternoon shortly after Lynn and I put out birdseed for our cage-free aviary, which at the moment includes: red-winged blackbirds, tri-color blackbirds, scrub jays, stellar jays, sparrows, finches, towhees, doves, crows, ravens, quail, ring-tailed pigeons, juncos, chickadees, and doves. We call their feeding time “the evening bird show.”

Foxes love birdseed as much as birds do, and I recently witnessed the vixen licking birdseed off my deck while a white-crowned sparrow just overhead pecked birdseed off the railing. _____________________________________________________________

By now the vixen sort of trusts Lynn and me. Here Lynn hands her a couple of slices of bread. It’s a friendly exchange. This particular fox’s table manners are surprisingly dainty — no snapping at the hand that feeds her. ____________________________________________________________

After receiving her bread, the vixen usually foxtrots off a short distance to eat, apparently preferring to do her chewing in private. ________________________________________________________________

A second fox, a male, visits us after dark.

However, that’s also the time when two or three raccoons show up to be hand fed their own slices of bread.

If the raccoons aren’t fed immediately, they often doze by the kitchen door, waiting to be noticed.

The fox and raccoons never fight, but they’re leery of each other.

The more-nimble fox, however, always finds a way to avoid confrontations with them. And I’ve sometimes watched while the quick gray fox jumps over the sleeping coon.

I learned a few years ago that I can get them to eat side by side by putting out two handfuls of peanuts in close proximity on the deck. The lure of honey-roasted peanuts is obviously stronger than their suspicion of each other, as this photo from last week demonstrates. ___________________________________________________________

One critter that no doubt is pleased we’re feeding the foxes is the jackrabbit that hangs out in my fields. I’m sure a hungry fox would be delighted to dine on hare — if it could catch one. But it would find it far easier to catch the jackrabbit’s slower-footed cousin, the cottontail rabbit.

Well, that’s our fair and balanced fox news for this week. Stay tuned for Sean Hannity’s harangue against these atheists in foxholes.