I did a bad thing.

I did a bad thing. Okay, not so much bad as stupid and unthinking…which I guess is pretty bad.

But I’m blaming the fact that it was 5.30am and I’m a sucker for a pretty face.

It started last week.

I was out early at the park where I walk my dog, Lily, and there was a god-awful kerfuffle going on. The birds have been fledging and the crow-parents get super noisy when any creature so much as looks at one of the chicks. Anyway, as we were walking through the park, I could hear what sounded like several crows all giving their super angry “get away” call, but as I got closer I saw not only crows, but also some magpies and a blackbird getting in on the action. At this point, I’m thinking it must be cat or something to have gotten them all so excited. I could see the crows hopping through the trees, screaming –– it was all very dramatic –– but no sign of any kittie or seagull or other chick predator. Until, right by the fence behind a screen of shrubs, I saw a flash of red, and then a little foxy face pop out! Seeing that the offending visitor was making a move, the crows flew down and started to chase him, following him out of the park and down the street.

It was very cool.

I like nature and stuff, especially anything dog or corvid related, so you can imagine that getting to see this was super exciting for me. (And no, I don’t get out much. How did you guess?)

Roll forward to Wednesday.

It was ass o’clock in the morning, but I’m trying to be productive so we were out in the park –– the sun is up so really there’s no excuse for sleeping in. Now, I do confess that I feed the crows. Not all the crows, just one nesting pair that will fly down and follow me around. Lily knows not to chase them so they’re relatively brave and we can get quite close. They like the dog kibble that I keep in my pocket, although they seem more interested in filling their craws then flying off to bury it in the children’s playground. Generally, I’m opposed to feeding wildlife, but I was feeling sorry for these two in the winter, plus I have the semi-legit excuse that one of my WIPs features corvids quite heavily so I wanted to observe the crows’ behaviour, movements…that kinda thing.

Anyway, we fed the crows and moved through the park. Which is when I heard the epic crow-rage again. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to put Lily on the lead as, sure enough, when we walked through to the same spot as before, there was Mr Foxy Face.

Which is when I did the stupid thing. You know, I just said something about having presence of mind? Well, clearly I used it all up as you know I said that other thing I just said about being opposed to feeding wildlife? Yeah. I did that. I don’t know what possessed me, but I reached into my pocket, pulled out a couple of kibbles and threw them on the grass.

I regretted it immediately. Not because I’m opposed to urban foxes, but because I support them. We are a nation of animal lovers, but we are also a nation of fox hunters, and badger baiters, and dog fighters, and acts of unspeakable cruelty to creatures that can’t defend themselves. Teaching wild animals that people are friendly is not in their best interests. Even if they have fluffly ears.

So, I cussed my idiot, sleepy brain, and we moved off. I kept Lily on the lead and one eye on Mr Fox. Lily loves foxes. I really think that she’s not sure if they’re a dog or a cat, but she knows she wants one more than anything. She’s extremely obedient, but her prey drive for foxes is something else. So I had tight hold on her as I watched Foxy Face go over to where the kibbles were and snaffled them up. Actually, what he did was pick them up, then retreat quite far away and eat them behind a tree, which I thought was quite interesting in itself.

Then the amazing thing happened. He started walking back on the lawn, and the crows started dive-bombing him. I whipped out my camera, hoping to catch it on film but some else happened altogether.

Watch in HD on full screen for the full effect : )

0:25 – You can see Foxy scenting the air and licking his lips. Lily does this exact same thing when I have delicious food and she wants me to give her some. Got me thinking that this could be a food sharing display, like begging. Also, when he’s yawning, that’s an indicator in dogs that they’re conflicted about doing something, which I thought was interesting.
0:37 – You can see Foxy is still very aware of the crows, which is why he keeps looking around and twitching his ears.
1:21 – When he looks up, he’s looking at a crow on a low branch.
1:57 – I couldn’t believe it when it decided to come even closer.
2:18 – Hopefully you can see as I pull back just how close he was. He was about ten feet away at the closest point.
2:28 – We’d been alone until this point but you can see from his ear twitch that he must have heard something and decided to move away, which triggered Lily’s prey drive and she scared him off. I say scared but the bugger goes to a safe distance and sits down, so he clearly wasn’t that worried.

I have no doubt that if I had chucked him a couple of kibbles he would have come closer…and it was really hard not to do that. I’m not entirely an idiot, I know about biting, and danger, and diseases, and mange, blah, blah…but did you see those ears!!

So, yes. I did a stupid thing. And it was fudging awesome.

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