Monday, October 28, 2013

What the Fox Says

Many of you have probably seen the most recent YouTube sensation, "What Does the Fox Say?" by Ylvis, that poses the question, "What does the fox say?" Well, we here at Nature Net decided to take the question seriously and find out!

Red foxes (the most common variety of fox in the world, as well as the species that resides here in Madison) are actually very vocal animals. It is sometimes difficult to know what they sound like, though, because they're nocturnal and make a variety of noises. They yip to each other, which can sound like dogs barking, they call out and can be mistaken for owls, and they even scream when there is trouble, though very few people would assume that a scream in the night was actually a fox! To hear their calls and become familiar with them, you can watch this helpful video below and become an expert in what the fox says.

Besides making all kinds of noises, foxes have extremely good senses of hearing and smell. They will sometimes eat fruit or insects, but in the winter they hunt small mammals under the snow. In this video, a fox stalks its prey by listening carefully and when it pinpoints the mouse under the snow, it pounces head-first!
Red foxes reside here in Wisconsin with us. There is a family that lives in Warner Park on Madison's North Side; if you enter Warner Park through the meadow, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the kits playing in the spring or an adult fox hunting in the winter.

One of Warner Park's Foxes
Fox Footprints
These cute creatures do not hibernate in the winter, they just become more active during the day (diurnal) and hunt mammals more frequently instead of eating berries. Foxes are also scavengers, which makes them well-suited for urban living! When the snow starts to fall this winter, head over to Warner Park and see if you can find signs of the foxes. Even though they are very stealthy, they still leave footprints in the snow. Their footprints may look like dog tracks, but a fox's feet are much smaller than a dog's. If you find some tracks, make sure you look at the size to help you determine the species.

The UW Fox
Warner Park isn't the only place in Madison with fox residents, lately. In the last two weeks, a red fox has been spotted several times on the UW-Madison campus! The UW Police Department has been posting updates about the fox on their Twitter feed, and
 last night a student was able to take a picture of the elusive creature. Maybe this fox was once a kit in Warner Park. Wherever he came from, it looks like Bucky Badger might have some campus competition!

Now that you know all about the sounds foxes make, their hunting skills, and a few places they can be found in Madison, get outside and find one! There's nothing like seeing a graceful red fox race past you on a crisp autumn afternoon.

Good Luck!
Emma, Nature Net Intern

Friday, October 18, 2013

An Introduction to the New Nature Net Intern!

Hi there! My name is Emma Burton and I just began my internship for Nature Net. I'm a senior at UW-Madison triple majoring in biological aspects of conservation, community and environmental sociology, and environmental studies, which is really just a fancy way of saying, "I love nature!"

I am originally from Wisconsin and I grew up in a very small town about 60 miles west of Madison, so I know the area well and consider myself a true Badger. When I was growing up, I loved being outside and learning about the natural world. Surprisingly enough, though, I did not go to college with the intent of majoring in anything to do with the environment. I was almost certain I would go into journalism until I took an environmental studies class on a whim during my first semester and I fell in love with it. Now, I cannot imagine my life going in any other direction and I have never regretted making the decision to devote myself to the protection of the environment.

In the spring of 2013, I got an amazing opportunity to study abroad in Australia through the School for Field Studies. I spent three and a half months living in a cabin in the middle of the rainforest of Far North Queensland with people who would become some of my very best friends. We took classes on rainforest preservation and restoration, learned about the native fauna, and interacted with the local community on an almost daily basis.
My trip to an aviary in Kuranda, Australia
I also had several opportunities to go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, which was definitely my favorite part of the trip. Now that I am back in Madison, I have just been appreciating the beautiful fall weather. I have also been working as an intern for Fitchburg Fields, which is an organization that grows organic produce and donates most of it to local food pantries.

Horseback riding in beautiful New Zealand

In my free time, I love to go bird watching. Wisconsin has some of the most amazing migratory and non-migratory birds and I try to take at least a few hours out of my week to sit by the lake and enjoy them. I'm an animal lover in general and I have a pet hedgehog named Penelope who keeps my roommates and me company. Other than animals, my personal interests include knitting. I have made several sweaters and I love to knit gifts for my friends and family.

My hedgehog, Penelope, playing in the grass

Over the next few months, I'll be writing blog posts, updating the Facebook page, and keeping Nature Net up to date with tons of fun activities for you and your friends and family!