Gray fox family: Part 1 – Dolly & Frances move into the den

In the summer of 2023 a gray fox family – mama, papa, and a single kit – moved into one of our dens. The mother fox, Dolly, had been visiting the backyard and for quite some time, and we could tell that she was nursing. We’d been hoping that she would bring her family closer and so we were delighted to see her carry a kit in past the water bowl one day in late May.

This video is the first episode in our story of Dolly, her mate Broken Ear, and their little one, Frances during their 2.5-week stay in the magic tree den. As I write this, I don’t know how many episodes there will be – we have about 350 hours of great video. (Don’t worry, we won’t attempt to inflict it all on you, but Dan’s edited highlights are still a couple of hours long, so we have some serious cutting to do.)

In this first part, we see Dolly carry Frances – then probably 5 or 6 weeks old – along the trail and into the den. She spent an hour or so settling in and reassuring Frances that her new home was safe and comfortable, and then she took her back outside for a little tour of the playpen area.

Dolly is the most attentive and loving mama fox we’ve ever had the privilege of spying on with our cameras. She is patient, playful, and very involved. Broken Ear was a good father, too. He was a little battle-weary at the time they moved in, and didn’t much want to play, but he and Dolly split guard duty and food gathering, and very clearly (to us) brought up Frances together.

I am writing this in June 2024, and Dolly – with a new mate, Pale Fox (we believe that Broken Ear has died) – is back in the magic tree den with 3 kits. Frances is still around and has a family of her own (we can see that she is nursing). She doesn’t visit our backyard very often, but when she does she is immediately identifiable because she inherited her mother’s long, elegant tail. We look forward to meeting her kits one day.

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