What’s In My Backyard?

Projects: Tracking

For the introduction to this series, see here

It is winter or early spring. The ground is covered with snow or mud and the weather is quite cold. There are no insects or flowers, many birds have migrated to warmer areas and there doesn’t seem like there is much for a naturalist to study. If you look closely, however, there is always something in the natural world to study. In winter, the pace is slower but life never stops.

Many animals that visit your backyard are only active at night. If there is snow or mud, you can reconstruct their lives by looking at their tracks. Below, you can see pictures of tracks that I have seen in my local area. You can follow the trail and find out what the animal did in your yard. Maybe it was a fox trying to capture a mouse. Or maybe, it was a squirrel burying nuts beneath the snow.

If you would like to identify the tracks, you can use a guide like this one. https://www.maine.gov/ifw/docs/MDIFW-Animal-Tracking-Card-color.pdf Count the number of toes and use a ruler to measure the tracks and compare them to the track guide. You can also take pictures of the tracks and start a collection of track photos. Or you can sketch them in your nature journal.

Happy tracking!

Previous Posts