Backyard Birds – November Report

Backyard Birds - November Report

Foxes, berries, and birds, oh my!

Jill Holden described a special experience on Oct. 31. “This morning I came downstairs into the kitchen where I came to a sudden stop upon seeing a beautiful Red Fox out on the deck. It was in its fluffy winter coat instead of the sleek look that I had seen on the last one that I had seen this summer. I expected it to run off, but it headed towards the sliding glass door instead. My thought then changed to ‘Oh no, someone has been feeding it, and it wants me to give it something.’ It came to an abrupt rather startled-seeming halt as it was about to hit the glass. I wasn’t sure if it had seen a reflection at the last moment or that (more likely) its whiskers touched the glass. It circled around and and the same thing happened again.
A Scrub-Jay and some Collared Doves watched the fox intently. The Scrub-Jay landed on the edge of the deck and the fox went over to it and seemed to contemplate whether it could get to it, but the jay was still a good ways above it.
Then it headed down to investigate the yard. The birds took off in a flutter of wings. The fox took another look around and headed off behind the neighbor’s fence.
The next day I went for a walk in the neighborhood. I heard a squirrel fussing up ahead; I was still pretty far away for it to already fuss at me. I got closer and caught a quick glimpse of a beautiful fox once again. Likely the same one that I saw yesterday? It was only visible for several seconds before disappearing.
Amazing that after not seeing a fox for quite some time that I have seen one two days in a row. It always feels like such a privilege to get to see one!”

Red Fox by Jill Holden

Jared Del Rosso wrote, “I recently encountered a line from Walt Whitman, in which he describes ‘frost-mellow’d berries.’ I’m wondering if cold has this effect on creeper berries. The vines around Centennial and Denver are laden this year. And yet many of the berries have hung around, untouched until this week. Twice in the past few days, I’ve watched Magpies hopping up from sidewalks to collect the berries from vines. It’s a fairly endearing method of feeding.

Chuck Huntermark commented, “In a journal article some time back, biologists postulated a coevolutionary relationship between fruit-bearing plants in the rosaceae family and birds. The fruit, particularly berries, of different rosaceae species become “mellow’d” at different times of year. This allows birds to find fruit throughout much of the year, fostering the relationship with birds as seed dispersers.

“I have noticed this with some of our fruiting trees at home. In June or July as our Serviceberry tree’s berries are beginning to turn red, the robins and House Finches hit them like mad, denuding the tree of berries in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, crabapples ripen more slowly and, unless the squirrels get them, may survive into winter being suddenly discovered by robins and waxwings in late winter. Mountain Ash berries are not favored until late winter or early spring when robins migrating north find them and strip the tree of berries in short order.”

Virginia Creeper Berries

Kathleen Stewart, in central Denver commented that she “saw on Denver Audubon that Kevin Corwin had 2 Spotted Towhees in his garden on Oct. 16. I had 2 in my garden Oct. 19.”

Doug Ward (west Denver) “noticed an adult White-throated Sparrow in our yard Nov. 7 and saw him Nov. 8. Hoping he’ll stick around all winter like the young Harris’s we had last year, but not counting on it, so enjoying for now.”

Spotted Towhee by Carol Vogel
White-throated Sparrow by Bill Wuerthele

Your contributions write this column. Thanks to all who send in these intriguing reports. Send a note or post card to P.O. Box 584, Franktown 80116, or Email Hugh Kingery at