Snowfall is a great opportunity to find signs of wildlife active at Oregon Ridge Park. As mammals and birds move around and hunt for food, they leave behind impressions in the snow. You can try to identify a critter by the shape of the track; or follow it and explore what the animal may have been doing. Is it bounding away from a predator? Or stalking prey of its own? Has a bird landed, pecked for seeds, and flown off again? Often, a track or trail in the snow, or mud in the warmer months, is the only sign you may see of nocturnal mammals and others that shy away from humans.
When taking a closer look at tracks, look for the number of “toes”, the shape of the footpad, and overall size of the track. The pattern of tracks, the trail, will be related to the gait of the animal: is it walking, bounding, running, or galloping. Some step with their hind foot into the track left by their front foot. Tracks may be next to each other, or alternating.
There are some common ones you may find, such as the tracks from the dogs visiting the park, squirrels, red fox, raccoon, as well as birds such as turkey vultures and robins. Take a picture of what you saw, or sketch a drawing. Return to the Nature Center and ask a naturalist to confirm what you’ve seen or look through one of the guide books in the library.
Add a comment or pic as to what you found at the park!poster of animal tracks courtesy of Yankee Magazine