Thursday, July 3, 2008

Coyote or Fox: You Be the Judge!

Coyotes are present in Stamford, so we need to make sure you can identify them. Some people can mistake them for a dog (like I did 5 years ago) or a fox, like my pilot did today. We were about to take off (in an un-AC'd prop plane) from Tupelo MS, when the pilot came on the loudspeaker and said, "Awlraght, folks. We're gonna have to wait here for a few minutes. We've got a fox on the runway- a large fox- you can see him right out the window. We don't want to run him over, so we'll just wait 'til they come chase him off. It'll be just a few minutes, then we'll be on the way to Memphis."

Getting off the plane in Memphis, I said to the pilot: How big was the fox?
Pilot: Big!
Me: Like, how big? (I hold up hands, three feet apart.)
No, bigger. Actually, it was coyote.

Me to sis on phone after I get back to CT: Who mistakes a coyote for a fox?
Sis: Probably a lot of people.
Me: A coyote is like, three times the size of a fox. Foxes are tiny.
Sis: I know, but a lot of people don't know what they look like.

I act all hoity-toity with my fox knowledge, but I really only know about their size by chance. I went to a "field party" in high school (Va.), and we drove down a dirt road through a corn field to get there. Right in front of us, little foxes kept jumping out of the corn, trotting along in our headlights like they were leading a parade, then leaping back into the tall grass/corn. Repeat. Hop out of the corn, trot in the headlights, hop back into the corn. It was like leapfrog; I have no idea if it was just one fox messing with us or a whole band of them. In any case, they were the size of a large cat.

Oh! I thought. That's why our high school mascot is the fox! I had never known foxes were such a presence, I guess because I don't frequent the woods at night.

Foxes are very, very cute by the way.

Um OK actually YOU be the judge. Is this photo on the right a fox or a coyote?

On this person's website, he calls it a fox, but I swear it looks like a coyote! Is this a fox-like coyote, or did that man, like my pilot, mistake a coyote for a fox? This is a photo from Wisconsin, if that helps.

Info from another website seems to confirm my opinion: Dr. Cavallini's research concludes that "body size of the red fox may be variable even within a small area," but also suggests that the average red fox, wherever it is found in the world, is a much smaller animal than commonly believed, and that even in the regions with notably "big" fox, the average fox weighs only between 13.7 and 16 pounds.

I may not know much about foxes... but it seems like I know enough. If you think you see a fox, and it's the size of a dog... it is probably a coyote.

Previous Stamford Talk posts about coyotes:
Jan 14, 2008- Ahoooooooooooooo: Coyotes in Stamford


Jeff said...

There've definitely been coyotes in the Westport/Weston area for years--I remember seeing them when I was in high school. Not surprising that they're coming down into Stamford. There's a lot for them to eat.

I'm just waiting for the bears, like they've got in Jersey. A bear would make Bedford Street almost exciting.

Anonymous said...

My next door neighbor took a picture of a big ass coyote in her back yard in Cos Cob. I'm freaking because my little dog would be snack food for a coyote. I usually don't let him out unsupervised. That coyote is gonna have to go through ME to eat my pupper!

During my 10 year stint as a dairy farmer's wife in Dorset, England, I had to deal with the fox-hunting set crossing our land. Wasn't that fun?

Patty said...

Does no one read The Little Prince any more?

Stamford Talk said...

Oh.... is that a fox in The Little Prince?
OK I think the creature in the second photo is a WOLF. I forget about wolves because we don't have them around here, but if that photo is from Wisconsin, I bet it's a wolf, because wolves are up in Canada.

Scott Frosch said...

"Fox on the Runway"???

Wasn't that a song by 70's glam rockers, The Sweet?

chachmaster said...

The most common fox you'll see in this area is the red fox. Mostly at dusk/night but sometimes during the day as well. Gray fox are much less seen as they tend to go out of their way to avoid humans.

A red fox (the larger of the two) is typically about 15 pounds but looks larger due to long legs and a bushy coat. They are more athletic than house cats of similiar weight and should not be considered a threat to us or our house pets.

Coyotes are much larger and average about 30 lbs. They are similiar to a medium size dog in frame but look more wild/unkept and resemble a wolf more than a dog. They tend to hunt rabbit, waterfowl/birds and young deer but are opputunistic and will take a cat or small dog on occassion.

Fox have always been native to the Northeast and coyotes are becoming more and more common as they migrate east. Get use to them Stamfordites, because they're both here to stay...