Erica Schlosser took this photo in the Tehachapi Valley of a California Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus californicus) sitting on a fence post. Erica says that she and her family went on vacation, and when they returned, they discovered that this beautiful little fox had made a home for itself under their barn.

The lovely tawny orange color on the fox's undersides, legs and around their ears leads people to sometimes think that they may have seen a red fox when they catch a fleeting glimpse of a California Gray Fox.

The uppersides of these small foxes are indeed gray, created by an even salt-and-pepper mix of light and dark hairs, but their fawn colors can give the impression of a more brightly colored creature than the name "gray fox" suggests.

These diminutive canines, which are believed to be from a more ancient lineage than either gray wolves or coyotes, are resourceful omnivores with a varied diet that includes rodents, rabbits, insects, fruit, bird eggs, and in the modern era, cat food left for outside cats.

California Gray Foxes are not particularly leery of people, and often make themselves at home in woodpiles, around decks or under outbuildings.

While they themselves are predators, they are small enough that they are also prey for bigger creatures, and must be vigilant against coyotes, bobcats, golden eagles and even great horned owls

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) Indian word for fox is wazi, pronounced WAH-zeh.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: editorial@tehachapinews.com.