Saturday, February 8, 2014

Home sweet hole

One of the nice things about hawking, as any falconer will attest, is simply that it gets one out and about, and many of its rewards come in the form of serendipitous finds. One day earlier this winter I happened to park in a new spot at one of my frequently-visited hunting grounds and when, at the end of the day, I field-dressed the rabbit my hawk had caught, I noticed a hole in the ground surrounded for several feet in every direction by yellowed snow and delicate canine tracks: signs that a fox had been using that burrow quite actively. The gutpile I left that day was gone by the following afternoon, and I've left several subsequent offerings to the same fox.

A few days ago, while searching for rabbits in a new area, I found another hole, this one larger and marked with coyote tracks. This was in a narrow fringe of riparian woods; the "front" entrance was just a few steps into the woods from a cornfield.

The "back" entrance, significantly tighter and better hidden, overlooked a (currently dry) creek down a relatively steep bank.


I wouldn't be at all surprised if this burrow is used for denning this spring. Situated at least a quarter-mile (and probably farther) from human habitation, in edge habitat, with access to water, this is essentially a textbook den location.

God bless the corners of this house
And be the lintel blest
And bless the hearth and bless the board
And bless each place of rest...

—a traditional Irish blessing

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