Hunt for animal tracks in the snow
Sometimes it is hard to study larger animals because they often hide from humans. But it is easy to be an animal detective if you walk a trail soon after a snowfall. You might find deer tracks where they followed or crossed the path. You might see a trail of a mouse or other small rodent that ends abruptly with prints of wings touching the snow. If so, you are seeing forensic evidence of a predator catching its prey! It is fun to use your imagination to guess what made the track and what they were doing. There are also nice guides to help you decipher what you see and identify the makers of the tracks! While you are on your walk, listen for noises in the woods. Does it seem that the snow makes this place noisier or quieter than usual? Why do you think that happens?
Internet links to help you:
Photos helping you identify the tracks of the five most common tracks seen are available at: www.naturetracking.com/the-5-most-common-animal-tracks-in-snow/
Not all these animals are found in Indiana, and not all leave tracks in the snow, but here is a nice guide showing the tracks of 35 different animals: www.thingiverse.com/download:2707706
Mystery Tracks in the Snow: A Guide to Animal Tracks by Hap Gilliland – more adult oriented, share with youth
Peterson’s Field Guide to Animal Tracks (Peterson Field Guides) – not specifically for snow, but an excellent guide for identifying tracks