Posts Tagged ‘foxes’

It’s a Poudre spring of rainbow foxes and snow-covered outhouses.

As with the rest of northern Colorado, the Poudre Canyon was hit this week by two spring snowstorms.

Spring snows aren’t uncommon, although we haven’t had many in the last few years of drought-like conditions. In 1980, three feet greeted May Day. In 2003, five feet fell over two days; the snow came up to my chin.

Black fox kit with a white tail outside of its den along the Poudre River. Photo by Gary Kimsey

Black fox kit with a white tail outside of its den along the Poudre River. Photo from spring of 2012 by Gary Kimsey

This time, the first storm started April 14, continued through Income Tax Day, and left behind eight inches of snow in the lower Poudre Canyon where I live. Then came a cold April 16 night. The upper inch of snow froze solid. Then another storm wandered in, this still underway.

Delicate snow

As I type here in my warm office in Sunnyside—the cabin built eight decades ago by my grandparents and now converted into office space—I look out the window and, beyond 3-foot icicles hanging like sharp stalactites from the roof’s edge, see little but white haze as snow flakes drift down.

On the far side of the backyard, the wood fence that is angled down toward the river is topped with a thin, delicate wall of snow. The roof of our outhouse—built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps—is covered with a foot-deep blanket of snow. I’m certainly glad for indoor plumbing.

Snowplows from the highway department have worked diligently to keep the canyon road open, a tough and commendable task.

Rainbow foxes

Driving home from work in Fort Collins late this afternoon, I spotted a fox casually trotting with grace and ease over the top of the snow along the shoulder of the road.

It used to be that we had pure red foxes in the canyon, but a few years ago the gene pool got mixed into. Many Poudre foxes, like this one, are now fancifully sprinkled with rainbows of red, white, black, brown fur.

Last spring I spotted a fox kit lounging outside of its den. The kit was black and it had a white tip on its tail. (See the photo.) In the fall, as I was near the den again, I spotted what I figure was the same fox—an adolescent now, but still black and white-tipped.

This afternoon I could see the back trail of the rainbow fox. It came from a den dug into the side of a small hill.

And there I was fortunate enough to view something I’d never seen before.

Foxy play

Four fox kits were outside the den, light-footedly prancing around on top of the deep snow.

They were loping about four feet up the side of the hill, and then they slid down a narrow chute they had made over the top of the snow. The chute ended near the entrance to their den.

Sometimes a kit came down on all fours. Other times, belly slides. And even a posterior zoom flew down the chute.

It’s a playful spring along the Poudre River.

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