What I Know About...Polar Bears
by Jackie Orsulak
: Wildlife on the Tundra
There arenít many other creatures living on the cold tundra. The little companions of the bears are the beautiful white arctic foxes. On our trip to the tundra we saw a rare blue arctic fox. Dennis said he hadnít seen one in 20 years. Why do you think the bears donít eat the foxes? Remember that the foxes are very fast and the bears would use up too much energy trying to catch the little fox. The chase is not worth the little nourishment that a little fox would give the bear.
The foxes feed on lemmings during the summer. These little foxes are brown in the summer but turn white for the winter just like the arctic hare. The foxes follow the bears. Once the bears get out on the pack ice and get their fill of seals, the foxes get to eat the seal scraps the bears leave behind. As the bears fill up, they only eat the fat part of the seals and leave lots of goodies for the little foxes. The bears bulk up on the tundra during the winter. Some of the females will gain 400 pounds. They need that extra bulk to see them through their long summer and winter of denning and nursing their new cubs.
There are a few birds that live on the tundra, including arctic hawk, snowy owl, raven and willow ptarmigan. The ptarmigan are like the foxes and hares; they are brown in the summer and white in the winter. From the pictures, can you tell why these critters change color with the seasons? Arenít the little birds difficult to see?
It is so wonderful to see all of these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. If you canít go to the tundra, be sure to use Dennisís website to see the pictures he takes from the tundra buggy.
: Lights in the Sky
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