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Follow the Tracks

Winter is the perfect time to see animal activity in your own backyard or in the forest preserves.

duck tracks
Duck tracks in snow. (Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock)

Normally, we may not be able to see the animals because they are too sneaky, they come out too late or we are too loud.

However, when there is snow on the ground, all of their movements are traced out for us to see like a map. We can see where the animals go when we are not around. Squirrels may visit their hidden acorns and then scurry up a tree. A coyote could be chasing a rabbit in hopes of catching a delicious treat. A deer could make a skinny trail through the prairie grasses to where they sleep.

When you see tracks, these are some good questions to think about:

  • What kind of animal is it?

  • Are the tracks big or small?

  • Are the tracks leading somewhere?

  • Do the tracks stop suddenly?

  • Do the tracks show more than one type of animal?

These questions can be answered with the help of this scavenger hunt card, which you can print out. Learn what the common animal tracks look like and what kinds of patterns they make. For an extra challenge, check the tracks in different snow conditions.

When the snow starts to melt, the tracks start to break apart or appear bigger than they really are!


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