Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bird Search Led Me To Fox Afflicted With Mange

Finding new species to add to my Big January list was much more difficult in the second week. I put more effort in than I did the first week but was only able to add 10 new species to my total which now stands at 78 for the month. I spent some time exploring areas along the lower Connecticut River. There didn't seem to be much bird activity in this area during my visit. I found the land birds to be especially quiet. I didn't find any blackbirds and there were very few sparrows or finches around.
The birding was so slow that even took time to chat with a Ring-billed Gull .
There were some Mallards at the Essex town dock eating cracked corn that someone had tossed onto the boat launch.
There were two American Coots mixed in with the ducks. Coots are related to rails which are known for being elusive birds. These coots reminded me more of chickens the way they were pecking at the cracked corn. I found it interesting to learn that coots lay their eggs in floating nests that are anchored to aquatic plants.
.....and check out those funky looking feet!
At first I was excited to find this Red Fox  so out in the open. They have a beautiful coat of fur when healthy.
After watching this fox for a few minutes I realized there was something wrong with it. Notice how its eyes are almost closed and the tail is missing fur. It also didn't show much fear when people passed by with their dogs. An internet search revealed that these are all symptoms of mange. Sarcoptic Mange is caused by tiny mites that live in the skin. It can be cured with proper treatment
I reported the fox to local wildlife authorities. I hope that this poor  animal will get the help it needs before it is too late.

Big January Update: In week two I added ten new birds to my list for a total of 78 species. Two of the more interesting additions were a Red-headed Woodpecker and a Northern Shrike. Both had previously been reported on the CT daily bird report.


Dawn Fine said...

Awww...Poor fox! i hope they can capture it and help it.

Chris said...

Hi Larry,
Beautiful post and nice portrait of the ringed-bill. I've not seen them yet this year over here but might give it a try soon... Fox life is hard!

Ruth said...

I saw lots of Coots in Mexico. Interesting the birds that are common in many locations. They are very common in Ontario in the winter too. Interesting about the fox...

Larry said...

dawn-I hope so too but I guess I'll never know.

Chris-thanks-I hope the species start pouring in your way soon.

Ruth-I never saw a coot until a couple of years ago but now I know when and where to find them.

Kathie Brown said...

Larry, what adventures you have had! So sorry about the fox. Your list is impressive! I am ahead of my count from last year but far behind you. I also saw a coot on Thursday in Webster, MA when I was on my way home from CT. With the weather turning worse and my weekly trips to CT, my chances to get out birding are getting less and less! I hope to get out at least one day this week. I, to, have had trouble finding the smaller and more common birds. I have yet to see a mockingbird or a Carolina wren. I had hoped that today's snow storm would bring a wren to my feeders, but no luck. Oh well. Only a few days left before we tally up our scores!

BTW, I see turkey vultures in Willimantic every time I take my Mom there for her chemo treatments but cannot seem to find one here in Massachusetts!

Larry said...

Kathiebrids-I couldn't find a Mockingbird during my last Christmas Count-hard to believe. I see that you have been finding some new places during your species search which is always fun. Good luck for the remainder of the month!