When wildlife photographer Melissa Groo got tipped off by friends that a family of red foxes had set up a home in a backyard shed in Lansing, New York, she made it her mission to photograph them. She didn’t just snap one or two shots, she spent an entire season with the family, watching the kits as they grew up right before her very eyes in suburban New York. Groo hid herself by setting up a pop-up blind near the family where she would quietly sneak in to take her shots. The picture above, of six baby foxes sitting together, was captured on the first or second day she started photographing them.
As she told MNN, “The original crew. When I would approach the blind upon each visit, if the foxes were in view, they would warily watch me, but once I was out of sight, they seemed to take no notice of me — although occasionally when they would hear my camera clicking, they would look my way. On a sad note, by the time I stopped photographing them, there were only three kits left. One was killed by a car; a similar fate may have been met by the others, as the nearby road was very busy, although there are a host of other threats to foxes as well. The average life span of a red fox in the wild is only one-and-a-half to two years.”
Groo watched the baby foxes become more and more adventurous, venturing farther and farther away from the den. She noticed that their behavior resembled that of puppies, in their play, curiosity and rambunctiousness. “They stole my heart,” she said.
What Groo found most interesting was how the mother was oftentimes absent and that the father was the one who mostly cared for the kits. “I know that for part of the time she was certainly hunting, as I photographed her bringing home prey at least once. But apparently this is a common division of labor once the kits leave the den after the first five weeks or so of life. The father was constantly grooming the kits, and his tender way with them was very touching to me.”
However, when the mother or father returned from an absence, the kits would be overcome with joy. “The kits would be completely ecstatic, and leap all over the adult.”