Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fox barriers, for red foxes and faux FOX alike

A few weeks ago I was up late at night sort of half watching an old National Geographic special about how tough it is to be an animal in the Arctic winter -- the old " nature, red in tooth and claw" thing, made especially photogenic by the endless expanse of white stretching all the way to the faraway horizon. I'm not big on those shows, usually, but when the red fox wandered into the picture frame I couldn't help but watch. Especially when the little bundle of fur cocked its ears, leaped explosively as high as it could, its body stretched out toward the sky, then arching its back, jackknifing, and diving headfirst toward the deep snow, disappearing entirely into the whiteness. The fox emerged, listened, did the whole diving thing again. And again -- until finally it came up with something in its mouth, which was quickly dispatched. The announcer explained that the foxes listened for mice under the snow, located them by their sound, and then pounced in this peculiar manner. All in all, a tough way to prepare dinner, as the mouse usually got away. But the fox was a natural optimist and seemed prepared to cheerfully carry on as long as it took.

I thought this balletic mouse dive was just a strange ritual of the Arctic, but apparently it happens around here as well. I was driving to work this morning when one of the "Diaspora" hosts on WORT, our community radio station here in Madison, described observing a similar scene of a fox hunting in the snow near his home. The same athletic dive -- but with a new obstacle to frustrate the fox. After a mild thaw there had been a hard frost the night before, and the surface of the snow had frozen into a solid crust. Instead of diving into the snow, the fox crashed into the crust, making for one very puzzled fox and a mouse that got away.

A real fox is cute, but a faux FOX is not. Case in point being Fox News, the faux news network that is not a real news network but plays one on TV. Wouldn't it be great if there were a way to construct a fox barrier -- like the crust on the snow -- to keep it from completing its attack when it pounces?
Looks as if there is.

(Via Atrios)

1 comment:

Blue Wren said...

Silent fox runs swift
On fresh snow over mouse highways
Midnight's moonlight smiles.

Thanks for the story about the athletic fox. And for the link to foil the other, faux FOX.

More snow photos at my place. And after stopping for a half hour, the snow has started again.