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Red Fox Vocalizations

I suspect that the vast majority of North Dakotans have heard coyotes vocalize. They are commonly heard across the state howling, yipping, yapping, and yodeling. But I don’t many have ever heard a fox vocalize. I hadn’t until recently. Or perhaps I just didn’t know what I had heard.

At any rate, I was out for a walk around dusk one evening a couple weeks ago, and noticed a red fox intently hunting in a grassy area. When it finally saw me it immediately ran into a stand of nearby aspen. I continued my walk, and a few minutes later heard what I can best describe as bark-like scream, or scream-like bark. I head it a couple times, and it came from the direction of the aspen trees where I had last seen the fox. Upon my return home, the fox was back again feeding in the grassy area. It promptly (and quietly) ran away upon seeing me again.

I couldn’t help but think that the call I heard came from that fox. So, I had to do some checking. I was surprised to learn that the red fox has a wide range of vocalizations. They are known to produce over 20 different kinds of vocalizations. Their calls have been variously described as barks, shrieks, screams, whimpers, whines, chucklings, and others. And as you might expect, each individual can be identified by their vocalizations.

At least one source of information noted that most of the calls may be divided into two basic categories, what are called contact calls or interaction calls. Contact calls are probably the most commonly heard type of call is used when they approach one another. They consist of a series of 3-5 barks. There are also interaction calls which consist of a variety of vocalizations including shrieks, whines, rattling sounds, and others.

What I apparently heard has been described as a bark that is used when danger is detected. And I found some recordings of these calls on the internet. Many, however, were a little different in pitch, etc. I did, however, find a few that were very similar to what I heard. So if you are interested in what the danger call of a red fox sounds like, watch this video.

~Chuck Lura

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