The Fox And The Crow

We feed crows.  We don’t go out much, so we feed crows.  Any scraps that used to go to the chickens now go to the crows.

DSC_0168They are generally grateful but sometimes our offerings aren’t quite to their liking.  Stale bread, for example, is

DSC_0127patiently collected,

DSC_0130bit by bit,

DSC_0131until a good bill full is

DSC_0054carried off to a pan of water.

DSC_0133

Here it is dunked in water and, after soaking for a few seconds,

DSC_0173

taken out again

DSM_1277and buried in the lawn for later retrieval.

DSM_1406With all that food stashed away it was only a matter of time before it peaked someone’s interest.

DSM_1320At about half eight every evening (when the light is fading – along with my hope of crisp, clear photos),

DSM_1459a vixen

DSM_1427arrives to raid the crows’ larder.

DSM_2456As you may imagine, this makes the crows furious.

DSM_2437We are usually alerted to the fox’s arrival

DSM_2443by the screams of a crow

DSM_2446as it repeatedly swoops down on the thief.

DSM_2480

Again

DSM_2451

and again.

DSM_2462Generally, the fox isn’t too bothered and continues to eat;

DSM_2262though occasionally she’ll remind the crow not to get too close.

DSM_2489But the vixen is wary; these are, after all, big birds.

DSM_2494Though she seems more

DSM_2497irritated by the mobbing than

DSM_2498truly worried.

Sometimes, the adult vixen has a young female in tow.  This is probably a daughter from last year’s litter; they sometimes stay with the family group and help raise any cubs.

DSM_2156At first, the new arrival seems unfazed by the crow’s indignation

DSM_2189Though repeated diving

DSM_2190begins to unsettle her.

DSM_2193This is the third mobbing of one species by another that I have watched (See ‘The Fox And The Duck‘ and ‘Swallows And The Kestrel’).  But on this occasion it actually

DSM_2195pays off.  The young vixen has had enough and runs away.

Later, when it is darker still, the adult vixen finally brings out her cubs.

DSM_2507She has two, probably born in March and now seemingly healthy and well fed – on a diet of crow food.

39 thoughts on “The Fox And The Crow

  1. Pingback: The Fox And The Crow | Plattform Auwald

  2. Lovely post with fantastic photos. Crows are scarily clever though , there is film footage of crows in Japan cracking nuts by dropping them on the road for cars to run over, then waiting until the cars are stopped by a red light, before walking into the road and retrieving them. Honest, it’s true, unless someone slipped something into my cup of tea …

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  3. I can admire your photography David, but having just picked up the carcases of 16 chickens and 2 guinea fowl from my chicken run, I do not share your admiration of the fox. In broad daylight, we caught 2 foxes in the run: they had scaled the 6 foot double fencing and were in a frenzy of killing for the sake of it. The foxes had already eaten or hidden another 5 chickens and 2 guinea fowls so my chicken population has now been halved, I’m afraid there will be no eggs for you in the forseeable future. I’ve got some lovely photos of dead chickens for you to post on your blog, if you would like. Margaret the farmer

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    • I’m really sorry, Margaret. That must have been so horrible – and it has happened before I know. I did think of you as I was preparing this post; I’m well aware of your opinion of foxes. But as a photo opportunity it was too good to miss. Having to kill one of my own chickens after it was attacked by a fox, I do know how very upsetting it is (though not on the scale of your experience). I do hope there will be eggs again in the future. Yours are the best. Dave

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  4. What a fascinating post. A great read, and amazing action pictures. I wonder if the amount of energy used in guarding the food is more than the crow would get from the food anyway?! Makes an annoying trip to the supermarket seem very tame for us humans!

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  5. What an amazing drama to see enacted in your garden, Dave! Wonderfully told, both words and photos. Solo must have some pretty pointed thoughts about all of this… I’ve read that crows can learn to tell human faces apart and can even teach other crows which humans are friends or foes. That photo of the crow burying its food and looking right at you — kinda looks like it’s reserving judgment, but is prepared to pick you out of a lineup at need.

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    • Hi Stacy, well Solo is as deaf as a deaf thing so she rarely notices the foxes. Occasionally she’ll bark from the safety of the house if she sees one. You’re right with regards the crow. He’s made a mental note. Dave

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    • The scenes were carried out just a few feet from our living room window, Sara so pretty easy to capture really. Though most shots were taken through glass as well as in low light, so that was a little tricky. D

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  6. Hi Dave, what a fantastic thing you witnessed! And you always take good action pictures! Crows are very clever, aren’t they? Soaking the bread in water… Those foxes are so pretty, I love them, although we don’t have a lot here. We don’t even have a lot of crows here now that I think of it. But we have plenty of magpies and blackbirds indeed. And collared doves…

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  7. Fabulous photos Dave of both the fox and the crows, although I gave up putting bread out for the birds when a rat was coming for it! I’m surprised the crow didn’t end up on the foxes dinner menu.

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  8. Your photographs are superb and I love the true story they tell. I have seen crows dunk bread but I never knew they stored it. How clever! Your vixen looks in excellent condition. When I stayed in Surrey there were a lot of urban foxes but most were badly infected with mange.

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    • The crows have a battle with gulls too – but aren’t afraid to see them off either. Saw one yesterday pulling the tail feathers of a herring gull when the latter landed to grab some food. D

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  9. Another set of photos which make me really jealous of your talent! But feeding crows and foxes is fairly anti-social, no? Better than feeding magpies, I suppose. I wish you were here to photograph our crows mobbing buzzards. The buzzards gets no peace (not that I’m sorry). The crows line up like a fighter squadron, peel off one by one, and dive on the lumbering predator. Quite often they actually hit it.

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    • I know someone who traps and kills magpies and someone else who does the same with jackdaws. I condone the former but not the latter. No logic, I’m afraid but I do rather like crows (and jackdaws), Mr K – anti-social or not. They are remarkably clever, full of personality and make us laugh – all traits I hanker after myself. Having said that I don’t feed them at the Priory – unlike in our coastal garden, there are too many garden birds nesting there. And we don’t feed the foxes directly – I know only too well how some people hate them (see Margaret’s comment above). They also forced us to give up on chicken keeping after we lost three out of four, but I don’t, oddly, hold them a grudge. I envy you your proximity to buzzards. We have several over the Priory but I usually only ever see them as far off specks – I should love to get some decent photos. Do they take your chickens? I think you said that they did? If so the crows are doing you a favour. Dave

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      • We have too many buzzards, now they are protected, and overpopulation is actually becoming a problem – you can see malnourished-looking youngsters, and sometimes dead ones are found. Plenty of scope for a talented photographer, though!

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  10. Your images looked pretty good to me and so interesting a little fuzz would have been acceptable. I didn’t know crows burried food or that foxes would eat the hidden treasure. This morning I found 2 holes under the fence so a fox or possibly a badger are entering the garden again (this is OK except they break the irrigation tubes to get water which can be a gig problem!)

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    • You’re very laid back about badgers, Christina. We have a badger at the Old Forge which does loads of damages (luckily mostly to the lawns). Seriously wouldn’t one visiting the Priory. D

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