Fight or Flight Fox Game HomeLearnEducationAnimal HabitatsFight or Flight: Fox You have been snoozing in the early morning sun in front of your home. Your brother and sister have gone back inside your family den. You yawn and stretch and sniff at the breeze to smell what's going on. There's a strong tang of wood smoke from the farm downwind. There's a distant whiff of rabbits from the field by the edge of the woods. Your tummy rumbles with hunger. You could raid the nearby compost heap, where the pickings are usually good. Or try a nearby farm in your territory, where there are mice and voles and chickens. Everything seems peaceful, but there are dangers in your world. Take great care. Sniff the wind and decide which way to go. What do you want to do?* Raid the dumpster Try the other farm Catch a rabbit It's been raining, and all the smells seem fresher. As the sun filters through the trees, you pick your way through the cabbage toward your favorite compost heap. As usual, there is plenty of good food there. A tiny sound stops you in mid-stride. There is a mouse very close to your right. Can you spot it? A sparrow alights on a stake to your left. That's tempting too, but are you quick enough? For a moment, you hesitate. Which one do you choose? Which one do you choose?* Sparrow supper Dumpster delight Mouse meal The sparrow was tempting, but far too quick for you this time, though you do occasionally catch an unwary bird.After chasing the sparrow, you choose to: Try the other farm You've had a good meal, but now you're thirsty. As you stop to drink, the noises of the nearby farm come clearly to you on the wind. You feel safe. Suddenly, a terrier bursts out and charges towards you. TERROR! You panic as you realize that only two escape routes are open to you, and both are full of danger. Where can you go? Into the greenhouses? Or through the farm and head for home?Which one do you choose?* Into the greenhouse Head for home As soon as you get into the greenhouse, you know it's a dead end. You're going to be shut in here - you've got to get out. Can you dive through the window on your right, or would that flower pot get in the way? Could you jump through the broken window to your left? No time for hesitation, decide now!Which one do you choose?* Through the broken window Past the flower pot You managed to escape the terrier, but soon found yourself out in the woods again. As you were getting your bearings again, you stumbled upon a logging operation. Your home has now been destroyed! As you look for a new home, you go deeper into human civilization and are struck by a car.As you jumped through the gap, you knocked over the flower pot and the window swung shut. Head back to rejoin your family. Still breathless after all that running, you and your sister are playing hard, trying to sort out who is top fox. She is trying to get those blackberries that you want. You block her, protesting playfully. In the end, she leaves you the blackberries. But do you really want them? Is it time for some meat? Or would you rather settle down for a nap in your nearby den? The choice is yours. Which one do you choose?* Eat the blackberries Settle down for a nap Catch a rabbit You love both wild berries and fallen fruit from apple, pear, and soft fruit trees. Enjoy your meal!This is the end of your adventure as a fox. It's been an exciting time, and you are happy to settle down for a well-earned nap. Feel free to turn back and try other routes and have a completely different adventure in your life as a fox. Or you could go forward to learn more about foxes!On the way, you are joined by your sister and stop to play in the field by the rabbit warren. Your noisy mock fight alerts the rabbits grazing at the bottom of the meadow. What can you do? If you charge at top speed, you might catch one before it makes the safety of its burrow. Or you could slip into the woods and skirt round the field to try and take them by surprise. Or do you think they will all be gone anyway? Why don't you just play tag in the meadow with your sister?Catch a rabbit, which one do you choose?* Play tag in the meadow Try the stealthy approach Charge at top speed A dead vole danging from your jaws, you are just wondering whether to eat it or to bury it. You love voles even more than you love mice, but this one could keep for a while. Then you could go in search of bigger game. But wait. Right here is the hole in the fence that leads to the old hen house. You've caught two hens here already this month. Why not try it again? Your mouth waters. Sniff the air for danger once more, and then decide. Try the other farm, which one do you choose? Hunt for bigger game Raid the hen house Dig for buried vole Your careful approach work is about to pay off. You have patiently crawled around until you are downwind, and now it is time to reap the rewards. The smells are tantalizing; straight ahead, some hens are busy pecking at the ground. Just across the stream two fat little ducks are completely unaware of you. In a moment that's all going to change. You need to decide quickly. A flat-out charge? Duck or chicken for supper? Or would you rather slip behind the woodpile to get a little closer? Quick, before you're spotted. Hunt for bigger game, which one do you choose? Duck Woodpile to get closer Chicken A big dog jumps out from behind the woodpile! You are scared witless and run as fast as you can for as long as you can. You find yourself on the very edge of the farmer's estate. You pick up a smell. The smell of delicious meat drives you wild as you find a succulent filet. You devour it without thinking and within a few hours you are dead. This was a poison bait left by the farmer on the edge of his property. Ecological Concerns! Often these poisons do a great deal of harm to the animals in the habitat that they are placed in. Often unintended animals end up consuming these baits. Sadly, many pets find these and end up consuming the poison, too. Would you like to start over? Yes A Red Fox darts out from some bushes. You have never seen this animal before and stand still. Suddenly Dad rushes towards the fox honking and flapping his wings. Other male geese, even ones of different species, join your Dad and scare away the fox. Goslings and unhatched eggs are more at risk than adults from predators. Potential predators include raccoons, crows, bears, and many birds of prey. When Canada Geese are fully grown, their threatening displays keeps many animals away, but coyotes, wolves, eagles, and owls will still prey on this species. Remember, many geese have had negative experiences with humans and are often afraid of us. You have been growing so fast. You look like an adult now and have been working with your parents on learning how to fly. Your adult feathers have come in. Just two months ago, you were a newborn. Now you are taking to the sky. Momentum is with you and your have become so strong. You soar through the air and now have a new way to escape from predators. You are now a fully grown Canada Goose. You and the rest of your greater geese family will migrate when it becomes fall. You are a few months away from that journey, but in the meantime you need to get used to being an adult. Do you have what it takes to be an adult? What do you want to do?* Alert Others to Predators Nearby End Up in a Fight Hiss and Honk You make a distinct noise to alert the other geese that you have spotted some coyotes. All the geese react and go to the water where they can escape this animal. Scientists have identified that Canada Geese make twenty distinct noises. A new male enters into your territory. You two end up in a fight. At first this starts as just vocal calls back and forth, but things get heated! He charges you, but you counter and bite his tail feathers. You fan out your wings and the new male flees. You have successfully defended your territory! You find some blueberries. This is considered to be one of the greatest delicacies for Canada Geese. You start feasting on these and hear another goose walking behind you. You start hissing and honking. This is your food and you do not plan on sharing it with any other geese. The other geese gets the picture and leaves you alone to enjoy your treat. Fall is only a few weeks away and it is time to begin preparing for migrating. You and the other geese will leave your breeding grounds in Canada and head south to avoid a harsh winter. There is so much to do! What do you want to do?* Eat for Twelve Hours Socialize more than usual Use your feet...awkwardly You spend your days eating food. You and other Water Fowl eat so often because it takes a lot of food to get the nutrients you need. Even if you weren't preparing for migrating, you would still eat this often. The Canada Goose has lamellae which is a serrated rim on the bill that acts like teeth. This helps a goose bite off the food they want. Sometimes you are a tad shy compared to the other geese. With migration around the corner though, you start socializing more than you usually would. This is crucial as you congregate around food sources. You can't be as selfish as you usually would be. You dive underwater to look for food. You find a nice aquatic grass to nibble on. You do this many times with a few other geese. This is an atypical behavior. Due to Canada Geese having legs nears the end of their body, searching for food underwater isn't ideal. Ducks excel at this because their legs are centrally located. Scientists have noted this occurring many times. Geese will sometimes dive under the water to get away from territory disputes, but this is something new. However, like all Water Fowl, your feet are adapted for maneuvering through the water efficiently. The time is now. The Canada Geese are congregating and today is the day. This will be the first of many migrations for you! How exciting! What do you want to do?* Fly in a V Formation Stop at a Rest Stop Travel 1,500 Miles in 24 Hours Winter in the United States You find yourself close to the front of the V Formation. Through out the day multiple geese switch in and out of the lead spot. Mom and Dad even lead for a while. Scientists have noted that the V Formation may help birds save energy for these long journeys. It is speculated that this formation reduces drag and can even assist the other birds flying by providing drift. You and the flock fly through the night and rest during a gloomy morning. You all stop to eat and join up with another flock before heading out. During the Migration south, Canada Geese will fly during the day and at night. You and your flock get back to your migration. Flocks that migrate later in the year often spend more time resting. You can't believe the pace that you and the flock are keeping! Each day feels like a new adventure. Believe it or not, but your flock will travel at around 40 mph, but could get up to 70 mph with the right wind behind you! Geese will even fly a few thousand feet in the air and will even go as high as 8,000 feet! You and the flock make it down to the United States. You decide to winter in Richmond, Virginia. There is plenty of food and many waterways. Soon after landing, you immediately go find some food. You are famished. The local ducks are a little thrown off by the sudden arrival of you and your family. Canada Geese are seen everywhere, but somewhat misunderstood. Let's explore a few interesting topics that will help us better understand this bird! What topic do you want to explore?* Airplanes and Canada Geese Dwindling Numbers? No More Migrating Relationship with Humans The Canada Goose is considered by many various organizations as one of the most hazardous animals to aircraft. Many birds are hit by airplanes yearly which usually results in death for the animal. There are many preventive measures to minimize this, but it is a reality of any kind of transportation. Not only can this impact population numbers, but it can lead to disasters. The chance of this causing a crash is statistically rare. However, a famous case of US Airways Flight 1549 landing in the Hudson River occurred due to the plane hitting a flock of Canada Geese. At the beginning of the 20th Century, this bird had gone extinct in certain areas and had very low population numbers. Legislation was put into effect to protect this bird and their numbers have recovered and then some! Now new problems are leading to this bird being perceived as a nuisance. Does this mean the legislation should be changed or we need to find new solutions? Many hunters kept captive bred Canada Geese to act as lures and indicators of safety for birds that the hunters were actively hunting. When this was outlawed, these captive birds were released into the wild. However, after generations of being kept by humans, these birds had lost their migratory instincts. With global warming contributing to warmer temperatures, some pockets of Canada Geese in Canada aren't going as far south or opting out of even migrating. Overpopulation has even led to the establishment of breeding grounds in temperate zones where migration is no longer needed. As with any animal, the more we understand about an animal, the better relationship we can achieve. Throughout our adventure, we saw how territorial and protective this animal is. Would we chase an animal with those traits? Of course not! If we were going somewhere and had to wait for Canada Geese to cross the road, would we be mad or realize this animal is the descendant of an animal that was taken out of its home environment? As we better understand this animal and how the problems of the 21st Century are impacting it, scientists and conservationists will better understand what we can do to help this misunderstood animal. Let's all do our best to admire this bird from a safe distance and be respectful to its instincts! Congratulations! You have reached the end of our journey. Hopefully you have learned quite a bit about this often seen and misunderstood bird. Like all animals, there is so much to learn about and to respect about this amazing animal. What was your favorite thing that you learned today?The next time you see a Canada Goose, you are going to:What are some other animals that live in Virginia that you would like to learn about?