Animal Tracks

Hi Lindsay here ! Lots of people write to me to say they don't see any wildlife. Well, I tell them there is nature and wildlife all around you. They just don't know where or how to look. They don't open their nature eyes. This page is devoted to helping everyone open their nature eye and to take some time to smell the roses as my Mom says. I will be adding more and more tracks and things to look for as I find them. So check back often.

General wildlife watching tips

  1. Walk slowly and quietly, try not to make any noise at all, even breaking sticks that you step on alerts wildlife you are there.  It is best to walk a few steps and then stop to look and listen, then walk a few more steps.

  2. Listen to the birds, it is easy to tell if the birds are singing happilly or if they are giving an alarm call.  If you hear the alarm call of any birds, stop for awhile and wait for the birds to start singing again before you continue.  Even if the birds are silent, this means they are alert and watching you to see what you will do next, lots of animals listen to the birds to know if there is danger nearby.

  3. Look for movement.  Any kind of movement in a still forest or meadow really catches your eye.  Most of the animals I have seen in the wild I just spotted movement first, and then after being really still and watching really closley I would actually see the whole animal.

  4. Once, I was walking in the woods and I just had this feeling something was watching me, I looked up, and there was a raccoon in a tree staring down at me.  Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts.

  5. Sometimes you can spot wildlife by color.  I saw a red fox sleeping in a mowed hayfield.  At first he just looked like a rock in a field, but I could tell the color just wasn't quite right to be a rock.   I was able to sneak up really close to this fox. Lots of woodpeckers have bright red on their heads, and in the spring and summer deer have a much brighter sort of orange coat than they do in the fall and winter. 

  6. Look up in trees especially old dead ones, you can often see nest cavities with woodpeckers, or in bigger trees, owls , raccoons and more. 

  7. Look along the edges of fields and especially at the corners of fields.  Don't walk out in the middle of a field, stay just inside the woods and walk along the field edges.

  8. Look for broken or eaten blades of grass  or twigs that wildlife may have been eating.

  9. Look at the ground before you step, you might be stepping on an animal track.

  10. Sometimes it is neat to sit quietly in the woods and wait and watch.

  11. Lots of animals are active at dawn or dusk so you might want to look for wildlife at these times.

  12. Wildlife like to take the easiest path through the woods just like you do. Staying on a trail or looking for trails helps

  13. Last, don't leave anything in the forest that wasn't found there . And remember to read what to do about orphaned animals before you go.

    Fox

    You look for fox along hedgerows, fence lines, around abandoned farm buildings, corners of fields where habitat changes, places where lots of mice are.   Foxes usually always enter a field from the corner that is the best place to look for fox sign. Foxes like to walk along clear paths that are ahead of them. They don't like fields with high grass where they can't see ahead of them. They like to sleep on high gowned so they can see or with a tree behind them .    They only use dens for having babies . Look for fox hair too. My dad can even smell a fox den and a fox if one is nearby!

     

    Fox tracks are easy to tell! They have a lot of hair on their feet, most dogs don't. Only dogs from cold climates like huskies have it and their tracks are a lot bigger than foxes. If you look close you will see the marks from the hair between the toes and pads if you do it's foxes! Fox tracks are only about 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Also foxes always walk in a straight line vs. a dog will be more indirect because they are always sniffing here and there

    A fox den, if you can't see it well you can click it to make it bigger

    The front foot almost looks like a human hand the back foot is like a hand but with a longer oval palm. The tracks are usually paired with a front foot next to a back foot.  Lots of people call raccoon prints baby feet, because the rear foot really looks like a human baby's and it is about the same size too.

    Deer

    Chipmunks- These animals can actually be heard, they make a shrieking chirping sound. Chipmunks like a more open area . The den entrance is usually two inches.  Chipmunks have a hopping gait so the back feet land next to each other.They hibernate so if you see tracks in the winter it is something else.  Chipmunks are most active in the early morning. The den below is in my Aunts yard and she sees them every morning scampering about her front yard from bush to bush

     

    Wild Turkey

    These birds are making a comeback. Did you know they lost out being the US national bird by one vote.  Wild Turkeys  were live trapped in Virginia and then brought to New Jersey and released.  The Turkeys are doing really well here in NJ and the population is getting bigger every year.  I'm not 100% sure, but I think NJ trapped some wild otters and gave them to Virginia in exchange for the Turkeys.

    Natural Nest Cavities

    This is a dead tree that is still standing in the woods near my house. If you were just walking along you wouldn't even notice the holes that have been made at the top. A woodpecker was pecking here just before I got this picture. So look up especially if you hear some pecking.

    Groundhog

    Groundhog tracks are a little like a raccoon except a groundhog has only 4 toes on his front feet.  Ground hogs dig their own dens and sometimes there will be a big pile of dirt around the opening. ( I mean really big , my mom had one in her garden once and the dirt pile was about 2 feet high).Some groundhogs don't make this big pile, like this den that is in another area of my backyard. They like edges of woods to build their den and sometimes like to build them by a fallen tree or even inside a dead fallen tree. Groundhogs make noise too! They chatter or whistle  if they are scared. Lots of animals make noise. A groundhog den in my yard.