Natural Sightings #661 - Gray Fox.jpg

A California Gray Fox observes the world.

Josh Patterson took this endearing photo of a California Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus californicus) observing the world from the relative safety of a large Valley Oak (Quercus lobata).

"This Gray Fox stopped by our property recently and took a nap in one of the big valley oaks for the better part of a day," Josh explains. "It was a treat to have him here for so long. I thought you and the Tehachapi News readers might appreciate a shot of him doing what makes Gray Foxes so unique."

The first Pen in Hand column that I wrote about Gray Foxes, more than 30 years ago, was headlined "The Fox That Climbs Trees" because this tree-climbing behavior is not rare or seldom seen, but is often part of the daily routine of these charming little canids.

Research has shown that the Gray Fox's willingness to tolerate humans, and live in close proximity to people as long as the foxes' food and refuge needs can be met, benefits the diminutive foxes, since larger, predatory carnivores like coyotes, bobcats and red foxes are not as comfortable around humans.

A number of Tehachapi area residents in the outlying areas have seen and occasionally photographed Gray Foxes interacting with their house cats. The activities range from mere tolerance and sharing of an outside food dish, to actually engaging in play.

Neither the Gray Foxes nor the cats express any sustained aggression toward each other, since they are usually about the same size. So neither is predator or prey — just tolerant neighbors.

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Southern Paiute) word for Gray 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.

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