Wednesday, February 17, 2010

lovely bones

I was looking for still-open red maids, as promised. Daylight was fading, so was running around our property for any sunny patches, scanning for open red maids.

This is what I found:

                    the scene


                                    dorsal view

Looking at the mammal field guide, the sagittal crest (ridge starting behind the eyes, going to the back of the head) is pretty definitive, along with the other evidence, indicating that this was a gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus).

The gray fox is the first bold wild animal I ever encountered (not counting animals acclimated to people). Once I was walking along a trail at a park I worked at, looked up, and saw it standing on the pavement, staring at me. I stopped. It did not run. It didn't even look nervous. It just looked right at me and stood it's ground. This was a first. A brave, and interesting creature, not to mention very seriously beautiful. So, I though about it a bit, and went back the way I came. I figured I was a visitor in it's home, so it'd be the polite thing to do. 

It's the only canid in North America that can climb trees. They are gorgeous (, and I've seen them stalking the neighborhoods of a posh neighborhood in San Diego at night. Seen from afar, it looks like a long cat with the biggest, fluffiest tail you've ever seen, held straight out behind. They are a stunning combination of grey and rust, with a black-tipped tail.

Today's find makes me wonder what happened. Since the skull and spine and pelvis, etc. were all there, I expect it died there, although I suppose something could have dragged it's carcass here from elsewhere. I wonder when it happened. When there was snow on the ground?

Anyhow, I went searching for signs of spring, and found evidence of a last winter.

xoxo the biobabbler

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