Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Dinner in the Yellowstone



A red fox in Yellowstone National Park dives for mice it can hear, but not see. It takes quite a few head-first dives to score dinner!
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6 comments:

Seahorse said...

Great footage! Watched it, and called the hubby in for a second viewing.

I confess to getting a bit concerned when I heard motors in the background. I was afraid the redhead might be about to be "Palinized" from above. The good news is it was Todd-like terra-based friendlies, and not Sarah from a chopper!

Seahorse ;) (Merry Christmas, all!)

prairie mary said...

We raised a baby fox onceuponatime and both of us played this game endlessly by putting a hand under the rug or under the covers of the bed and skritching around so the little vixen could listen and pounce. She never got tired of it and neither did we.

Prairie Mary

Marie said...

Merry Christmas Patrick. Thank you for your wonderful and always informative blog, it's much appreciated! Happy New Year too!

Viatecio said...

PBS recently had the this episode on (Christmas in Yellowstone or whatever it's called). Can't believe the photographer guy slept out in a snowstorm in only a tarp lean-to!

And of course, I LOVED the fox and wolf footage.

Sean said...

Wikipedia (the source of all things truthful) claims and cites to a reference that red fox have been in North America since the Wisconsin Glaciation. I thought I had read here and elsewhere that they are an introduced species.

PBurns said...

The native red fox is a boreal species, which is a nice way of saying it had a toe-hold in the US prior to European introduction, but not much more than that.

Other boreal species include Ptarmigan, Lynx and Wolverines -- animals that you are very unlikely to have living near you.

Boreal species are mostly native to Canada, with their southern terminus being in a few very cold, northern mountain regions in the US where no one (much) actually lives. Examples include high in the Nothern Rocky Mountains, Maine, and a small strip of land along the Canadian border out west.

To put it another way, all of the fox south of the Adirondacks in northern NY are descended from immigrant stock brought over at the time we started clearing the land. All of the red fox in states such as PA, TN, VA, GA, MD, CO, OH, MI, NJ, AR, IL, IN, TX, IA, NM, OR, etc. are immigrant stock brough over from Europe around 1650 or so. In California all but a few of the red fox at the very top of the northern sierras are non-native.

The non-native red fox and the native red fox can interbreed, but as you might suspect, the gene pool of the non-native version has been pretty well diluted even in their native range.

The European red fox was able to establish itself in the U.S. due to three things: 1) We shot out almost all the wolves and cougars, and a lot of the coyotes, and so fox predation by these competitors was removed as a factor; 2) We cleared the land and planted corn, wheat and other crops that were perfect for mouse production, the major food source for fox, and; 3) We erected buildings and left out trash and dumps which enabled fox to find food and expand their range, much as the racoon has done (the raccoon has come west and northward).

Suffice it to say that mounted fox hunting in the U.S. was pretty sparse in the 1700s as the immigrant red fox strived to become established, which is why we started raccoon hunting with fox hounds and why, to this day, the U.S. mounted hunts do not kill red fox as a matter of course.

P.