Trail cameras are specially designed gadgets that are designed to photograph wildlife in their natural surroundings. Your typical game camera comes in a weather-tight housing and is usually colored to blend in with its surroundings. They can be triggered by motion or body heat and save all images captured to a memory card. More expensive trail cameras can wirelessly upload images to the cloud or send them directly to your digital device of choice.

Trail cameras are used by photographers, hunters and scientists studying wildlife and are valued for their ability to capture moments that wouldn't have happened had a human been behind the lens. Infrared lenses allow trail cameras to pierce through even the darkest of nights and have helped expand our knowledge of what goes on in the woods after the sun sets. Recently, researchers working in Yosemite National Park were surprised to capture an image of the hugely endangered red fox, a species that hasn't been seen in Yosemite for a century.

Besides all that, they take really cool pictures. We sifted through a large pile of photos taken by remote trail cameras and collected the best 27 here. Enjoy!

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A lucky crow grabs lunch on the go.

A crow, flying, but right off the ground, wings spread, with a snake in its beak.

Photo: Wikipedia

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This turkey-size bird is known as the Salvin's curassow and lives in Southern American jungles.

A Salvins Currasow bird, black with orange beak, in the jungle.

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The tayra is native to Central America and is known to be easily domesticated.

The tayra, an weasel-like animal with longer legs and a long tail, in the jungle.

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Here's the warthog. Shouldn't there be a meerkat?

A warthog out in a dry grass field.

Photo: Shaun Astbury/flickr

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Hartebeests are native to the African plains.

A hartebeest walking on a trail.

Photo: Shaun Astbury/flickr

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Wildebeests are also known as gnus. (That's gnud to gno.)

A wildebeest out on the trail.

Photo: Shaun Astbury/flickr

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The oryx is native to Africa and is a master as surviving in dry desert environments.

An oryx out walking on a trail.

Photo: Shaun Astbury/flickr

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The porcupine is certainly one animal that you do not want to run into in the middle of the night.

A nighttime shot of a porcupine walking by the camera.

Photo: Shaun Astbury/flickr

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Big bird! (Technically an ostrich.)

An ostrich out walking on a trail.

Photo: Shaun Astbury/flickr

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The African wildcat is thought to be one of the predecessors to some of today's domesticated cat lines.

A night time shot of an African wildcat.

Photo: Shaun Astbury/flickr

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Where is the rest of the troop of baboons?

A troop of baboons walk down the trail.

Photo: Shaun Astbury/flickr

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A giraffe? We're going to need a bigger camera.

The legs of a giraffe are the only thing captured in this trailside image.

Photo: Shaun Astbury/flickr

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Bright eyes! This jackal sees something.

A nighttime shot of a chubby jackal.

Photo: Shaun Astbury/flickr

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It's a magpie meeting. Do you see the coyote watching them?

Four birds in the middle of the woods.

Photo: Moosicorn Ranch/flickr

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Are these deer on a first date?

Two deer look like they are kissing as they both eat from the same spot on the ground.

Photo: Moosicorn Ranch/flickr

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A triumphant coyote shows off his soon-to-be-eaten meal.

A coyote walks by a trail camera with a chicken in its mouth.

Photo: Moosicorn Ranch/flickr

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Everyone does it. Even coyotes.

A coyote taking a poop in the woods.

Photo: Moosicorn Ranch/flickr

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I've seen this one before. Or maybe it's just a coyote.

A coyote caught by a nighttime camera. Its eyes are glowing like lasers.

Photo: Josh/flickr

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That possum doesn't look in the least bit intimidated by the much-larger deer.

A night time shot of a deer looking down at a not-intimidated possum.

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A bobcat gets up close and personal.

An extremely closeup photo of some kind of wild cat.

Photo:National Park Service/flickr

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What an adorable little raccoon!

A cute little racoon sitting up in a grassy field.

Photo:Kimberly Herbert/flickr

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Oink, oink, oink and oink. Wild pigs make their way through the brush.

Four wild pigs running down the trail at night.

Photo:Kimberly Herbert/flickr

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This mule deer has noticed the camera.

Two deer in the woods, big ears, one looking right at the camera.

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The gray fox is native to North America.

A gray fox at night in the woods.

Photo:National Park Service/flickr

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This family of mountain lions were captured indulging in a two-day long mule deer gorging.

A cougar kitten snarls as it approaches the camera. It's night time.
Photo:National Park Service/flickr

 

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A mountain lion has dinner. Nature can be messy.

A cougar, sitting with a bloody face in front of its meal—a mule deer.

Photo:National Park Service/flickr

Bonus! Check out this great video showing a shy Pallas cat discover a camera set up outside his den at a wildlife park in Kent, England.