Animal tracks left in the snow

We tend to think of winter nights as quite, but in the outside world winter nights can be quite active. We’re not likely to catch this activity as it happens, but if we are lucky enough to step outside the morning after a light snow, nighttime activities become obvious in animal tracks left in the snow.

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to see how busy the darkened world was right outside your home as you nestled inside under a blanket.

Light snows reveal how busy field mice were one night outside my house. The shot on the left was taken from an indoor window; the right photo is an outside view.

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Seeing these tracks makes me want to put up a welcome sign for hawks and fox. Do you think they can read?

A different snow showed no mouse tracks … maybe a hawk or fox were active after all … just hundreds of happy bird tracks which are somehow much less disturbing.

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Farther from the house light snows expose where squirrels have been.

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These match nicely with the illustrated squirrel tracks found the the book Scats and Tracks of the Northeast by James C. Halfpenny, PhD, and Jim Bruchac..

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Their illustration of chipmunk tracks

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match the tracks I found along the driveway where I know chipmunks are active no matter the weather.

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I don’t need an illustration of deer tracks

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to know where deer have wandered. Their tracks disclose whether they simply passed by

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If they wandered around for a bit.

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Or if they found a cozy spot for a rest.

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There are few unvisited spots in the woods around my house. Tracks crisscross as if there’s a party outside each night.

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But humans aren’t invited.

What tracks do you see in your yard after it snows?

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4 comments for “Animal tracks left in the snow

  1. January 30, 2014 at 6:28 am

    I love doing the same detective work after a snow fall. The interesting thing is that I don’t have a lot of deer tracks right now but I do like following them to see if their winter pathways are same as the rest of the year and to see which plants they’re visiting. I see numerous squirrel tracks everywhere. BTW, I finally googled the book you mentioned since I’d love a copy of it and guess what…there’s an app! I think I may download the app so I’ll have it on my phone and iPad.

    • January 30, 2014 at 7:43 am

      Debbie, deer are not quite as active here as they have been in previous years. I usually see herds of 15 to 20 deer wandering through our property but this winter I’ve seen no more than 4 or 5 together at any one time. Also, their tracks do not completely cover the open areas which suggests they are staying in the woods more this winter. Don’t know why … but I’m not complaining. I’ve checked for large predator tracks in the woods around our house but have found none.

      Regarding the app: I looked at the review for the Scats and Tracks. It appears to need a bit more development before it is crash-free. I’m interested to hear how it works for you. For my Android phone I found a similar app called Critter Trax that gets good reviews. For $0.99 it’s worth a try.

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