AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) - A hot, dry day in Texas brought two animals in a rare union just before sunset to share a bite of food and drink during a time when both are tested by the unrelenting drought.
College professor Carl Berman, Jr. set up his computer in the family room Monday evening in Austin to prepare for the coming semester when he caught the glimpse that prompted the surprising photo attached with this story: a kitten and a fox eating and drinking from the same bowl.
"At first, there was a standoff between the kitten and the foxes, which the kitten won hands-down," said Berman. "However, the next night, their differences appeared to be resolved, and they decided that cooperation was better than being hungry and thirsty."
It's something that Berman said lends an important message: "There is a lesson there of us humans, I think."
Berman said he intentionally set up shop in the family room to watch the patio for animal visitors, adding that he thought it would be a good idea to put out some food -- cat- and dog kibble -- and water in a large aluminum roasting pan for the animals.
"And the result was that we had foxes, raccoons, possums, feral cats and coati mundis all arriving at the 'water hole' for a drink," said Berman. "There may be others, too, but they probably visit after dark."
A large, copper bird bath is also available for the animals. Berman said he empties the containers daily to avoid mosquito larvae.
"As a biologist/ecologist, I noted that, with our drought situation, there is little standing water in the neighborhood for animals and birds," said Berman. "Even the lizards come out to drink off the leaves when I hand-water some of our plants."
As for the gray fox around Berman's home, he said it is actually one of two -- as there is a pair that frequents the area to drink from his patio fountain. Berman said both approached the house from the Green Belt to drink at the fountain, climbing a large oak tree behind the house to check out the yard before going in for a bite to eat.
"After we put out the large water source, the result was immediate," said Berman.
And Berman isn't the only one lending a hydrating hand to wildlife.
Bird enthusiast Laurie Foss' backyard is an oasis of bird feeders sporting all different kinds of food, and she also has birdbaths and plenty of trees. She said residents can help thirsty birds by creating a backyard habitat that has four things: shelter, a place to raise their young, food and water.
Karen Bruett fills buckets of water at her home in Spicewood to quench her thirsty neighbors from the nearby Hill Country brush -- birds, possums, skunks, raccoons and deer.
Sources of water and food for those animals, like the Pedernales River and Lake Travis, are drying up.
Wildlife in Austin has been hurting for months, and the period from October to the end of April has been the third-driest period since 1856, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority.