In the Field – Know Your Prey
Northern red fox populations breed from February to April. Monogamous males supply food to females up to and after birthing, otherwise leaving the female alone with the young (also called “kits” or “pups”) in a "maternity den". Foxes are omnivorous and can be found foraging in a range of settings, eating whatever is available from insects and berries to small rodents, muskrats and even ducks. An average litter size is five kits, but may be as large as 13 so do not be surprised if more than one kit appears for a family sitting. Kit interaction can be some of the most rewarding images.
After five weeks the young are weaned and moved to a larger den. There is increasing activity in the vicinity of the “foxhole” as the kits advance on their first exploratory steps after five weeks, by ten weeks they are fully weaned and, after a brief “training period”, they disperse around 15 weeks of age. Busy parents are out and about scrambling for food for the group well into the summer while inquisitive kits are learning the ways of the natural world. Kits will spend their early days very close to the entrance closely inspecting their immediate surrounds, pouncing on insects, scratching at vegetation and climbing all over each other.
Opportunities to catch images of both kit and parent may be available to the observant photographer. Young foxes will often look off in the same direction from the den site, a clue as to the direction of a watchful parent. A confident parent may be content to have its portrait taken as it lazes in the sun, always keeping an eye out for potential danger. The emergence stage can be the most predictable for photographers as to the whereabouts of the entire group until independent kits venture away. Soon the most daring will venture away from the den, which will continue to be active until the last kit gains enough confidence to leave. They may continue to linger around the site but not as predictably as when they first ventured out.