Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Island Fox Pups

Across the Channel Islands, island fox pups are being born. For their first months of life they look more like little brown bears than their dramatically marked parents. 

Typically, island foxes become parents in their second year, but sometimes a male or female may become a first-time parent before they are a year old.

Most island fox pairs have 2-3 pups in a litter, but a young female like our Twitter fox, Tani, might have only one pup. 

This year rainfall on the Channel Islands has been low to normal. Weather can also affect the number of pups born because rainfall can impact food resources. Annual rainfall.

island fox bringing 3 deer mice home for family, photo courtesy NPS
While female island foxes are in their dens with their new born pups, the fathers play the role of providers, bringing food to their mate and eventually the pups. 

Over the last year Friends of the Island Fox has followed Tani, an island fox character, as she grew up and became a mother herself. Join us as we follow Tani's mate, Tiptu, and get a male fox's perspective over the next few months on Twitter and Facebook. Tiptu, is "big ears" in Chumash, the local native American language. Tiptu has befriended another rare animal only found on the Channel Islands - an island scrub-jay. 

Island scrub-jays have a family structure similar to the island fox, so Jay will have insight to help his friend the island fox through his first year as a father. The island scrub-jays are nesting as well. Spring brings all kinds of new life to the Channel Islands.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Channel Island Foxes Celebrate Earth Day

Yippee! Channel island foxes have much to celebrate this Earth Day. Across the four islands, where island foxes were listed as endangered in 2005, pups are being born this month. The San Miguel Island fox that nearly went extinct with only 15 surviving foxes has seen a population recovery in record time. Current Island Fox Numbers 

Come Celebrate Earth Day with Friends of the Island Fox at the

Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22
10 AM - 3 PM

April is pupping season! We'll be celebrating the newest generation of Channel Island foxes. Tani, the FIF Twitter fox, has gone into her den preparing for the birth of her offspring. Follow her on facebook. Across the islands wild female island foxes are doing the same thing.

Visit the FIF booth on Earth Day and see:
  • the size of an island fox pup
  • an island fox print that we made on Santa Cruz Island in March
Come to a Fox Talk at the island fox enclosure at Noon & 2 PM both days.

Join in a new activity to challenge your sense of smell. Can you follow a scent trail like an island fox?

Bald eagles reintroduced to the islands are thriving. A record 15 pairs are nesting across the Channel Islands. You can watch bald eagle chicks growing up on the live eagle-cams:
Channel Islands National Park eagle cams
Catalina Island eagle cams

Across the Channel Islands there is much to celebrate. You can see the recovery of wildlife yourself by joining Friends of the Island Fox on a trip to Santa Cruz Island on May 5, 2012.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Where to See An Island Fox 2012 Update

Wild populations of island foxes are increasing toward recovery across the California Channel Islands and with each year the opportunity to see an island fox in its natural environment increases.

But not everyone can journey to the islands or spend time in wilderness areas. A small number of island foxes can be found in captive facilities. 

Tachi, Catalina Island Conservancy
On the island of Santa Catalina the Catalina Island Conservancy cares for Tachi, an island fox that can not be released into the wild. Tachi makes appearances at special events on Santa Catalina Island and she can be seen on a special tour into the island's interior.

Several zoos exhibit island foxes from San Clemente Island. This subspecies of island fox is not listed as endangered but is still vulnerable to population declines because it is found only on San Clemente Island and no where else in the world. Captive management of the San Clemente Island fox helped develop husbandry techniques and establish veterinary care procedures for the endangered subspecies of foxes on the northern islands and Santa Catalina Island.

You Can Also See Island Foxes At:

Santa Barbara Zoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo exhibits a male from Santa Rosa Island that requires daily medical care due to a chronic eye condition. They also maintain the Stud Book or breeding records for all the island foxes in captivity on the mainland.

San Clemente island fox at L.A. Zoo

Los Angeles Zoo

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens exhibits a male that was the first island fox born in captivity at the Santa Barbara Zoo. He is an older fox and the father of two pups, that are now adults and living at other facilities.

Friends of the Island Fox participates in an Earth Day celebration of California wildlife in conjunction with the Docent Conservation Committee at the Los Angeles Zoo in April.

Exhibits a Male born at the Santa Barbara Zoo

CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point
Exhibits a Male born at the Los Angeles Zoo

Exhibits a Male born at the Los Angeles Zoo

California Living Museum- Bakersfield
Exhibits a Male from San Clemente Island

Even if you can’t venture over to the Channel Islands, zoos that are helping save the species can give you an opportunity to see an island fox in person. This rare species is one of California’s precious treasures.

What is it like on the islands?

Experiencing Santa Cruz Island
Habitat Restoration on Santa Cruz Island
Experiencing Santa Rosa Island

Travel with Friends of the Island Fox to Santa Cruz Island, May 5, 2012

Getting there - Island Packers

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Channel Island Fox and Biodiversity

Across the islands female Channel Island foxes are getting ready to have their pups. 

At first glance, the Channel Islands may appear barren, but a closer look reveals a rich diversity of plants and animals. Many of these species, like the island fox, are endemic and found no where else in the world. 
Join Friends of the Island Fox in a Trip to Santa Cruz Island

What can you see on Santa Cruz Island in just a few hours? 

Island Journal - Santa Cruz Island, March 29, 2012

giant coreopsis
Pat Meyer, Michael Lawshe and I went out to Prisoner's Harbor on Santa Cruz Island to investigate the restoration work on the wetland area. Winter rains came late this year, but the hillsides were in bloom with giant coreopsis (the island's strange species of bush daisy, a favorite food of island deer mice), blue dick, island morning glory, scarlet and bush monkey flower and lemonade berry, which provides important food for birds and island foxes. 

bramble-green hair streak; a new species for us
Western swallowtail, painted lady and several species of blue and hair streak butterflies were busy visiting the flowers. Island fence lizards and a side-blotched lizard were out enjoying the sunshine and snacking on the insects.

Insects were also on the menu for a black phoebe, Say's phoebe and barn swallows flying over the restored wetland. In the willows we even spotted a warbling vireo and the rare island scrub-jay.

In all we noted 25 plant species (many of them island endemics), 33 species of birds (including over 1000 migrating western grebes, an osprey and the Channel Island subspecies of Allen's hummingbird and Bewick's wren). Full Bird List.

Then just before we boarded the boat for home, a group of school children spotted an island fox!

Channel Island fox
This is the first island fox we have seen in part of the island and shows how the population recovery is once again making island foxes plentiful across all of Santa Cruz Island.

bottlenose dolphin with calf
When you add this to the common and bottlenose dolphins, and the migrating gray whales we saw during the crossing, it was a fantastic day! (More on the wetland restoration, later) 
- Keri Dearborn, FIF Education Director

You can spend a day on Santa Cruz Island too! 
FIF Trip to Santa Cruz Island, April 6, 2013.

Across the Channel Islands, female island foxes, like Tani and the one seen at Prisoner's Harbor, are separating themselves from their diverse island world and going into the shelter of their dens to prepare for giving birth. The recent spring rains may help support the island biodiversity that the Channel Island fox needs to survive. We can all hope that new pups will help to continue the recovery of the endangered populations.

Island Journal - Santa Cruz Island 
Visiting Island Foxes on Santa Cruz Island
Restoring Habitat on Santa Cruz Island, 2012 
Island Fox Releases on Santa Cruz Island, 2007