February 24, 2010
- Winter Tracks
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
Have you ever been on a walk in the winter, come across animal tracks and wondered what kind of animal made them and what they were doing? Mammal tracks show various gaits and patterns because different animals have different ways of traveling.
Walk-Mammals that walk leave behind alternating, evenly spaced prints in parallel rows. They often put their hind foot in the same spot where their front foot stepped. Walking is a slow way to move, but it's very energy efficient.
Trot - Some mammals trot, which is a faster way to get around but still energy efficient. During trotting, two diagonal feet move at the same time--for example, the left front and the rear right.
Gallop-Galloping is the fastest way for a mammal to travel, but it requires a lot of energy and can be done for only short periods. When an animal gallops, all four feet leave the ground at the same time during one stage of the activity.
Jump-Jumping requires the most energy. Although it's slower than galloping, it also includes one stage when all four feet leave the ground at the same time. Rabbits, squirrels, mice and rats are all jumpers.
This popular topic is reprinted from the December 31, 2008 issue of Outdoor Discovery.
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Tracks: Only Part of the Story
You can tell by animal tracks whether they were made by a deer foraging for food or a bobcat chasing prey. Did an animal stop for a drink? Are there many tracks in one spot, meaning an animal was looking for something to eat? What are some other signs of animal life that tell a story?
Scat-Scat (a fancy name for animal poop) tells us what an animal has been eating. Some animals use scat to mark their territory.
Fur and Feathers-Animals may lose their fur or feathers when they rub against something (to leave scent or scratch an itch) or when attacked by another animal. Look for fur stuck to lower branches or along the ground to tell you where animals have been.
Chew Marks-Animals such as deer, rabbit or beaver leave chew marks on the vegetation they eat. Chew marks are different for different animals because of their tooth structure and their eating habits.
Food Caches-Some animals such as squirrels collect and store food to eat during the winter.
Homes-Animals live in holes high in trees or near the ground, in leaf or twig nests in branches and in thick brambles. Some live in caves, burrows or dens. Deer and coyote leave well-worn paths from traveling the same trail over and over again from their homes to their feeding areas.
How can you track animal prints if there's no snow? Make your own track station. Get a 3' x 3' piece of plywood and some sand, flour or cornmeal. Find a level spot that's in the open but near trees or shrubs where animals might find food. Put the board flat on the ground and sprinkle flour, cornmeal or sand over the entire surface. Come back the next morning to check for footprints on your track station. How many different kinds are there? Use the posters offered above to help you identify your nighttime visitors.
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Seeing Winter from a Different Angle
Saturday, February 27 at 2:00 PM
By literally changing the way we look at and think about this cold and dormant time of the year, we will discover new things about the winter woods and fields. For families with children ages seven and older. Please dress appropriately for the weather.
Saturday, March 6 at 2:00 PM
March can be a chilly, sloppy month, but don't let that stop you from getting outdoors. Apply a waterproof substance to your hiking boots and join us for a walk on the Sierra Trail. Meet at the Sierra Trail parking lot.
Who's Under the Snow?
Saturday, February 27 at 10:00 AM
Even in winter, life in the natural world surrounds us. Join us for a walk to learn about the hidden life under the snow.
Tracking for Kids
Saturday, February 27 at 2:00 PM
Winter is a great season to learn about animal tracks and trails. Kids will learn to read the signs and identify who has been in their own backyards and what they were doing.
Bluebirds are Us
Saturday, March 6 at 9:00 AM
March is a great time to get ready for bluebirds, and Five Rivers is a great place to learn how. Join us for an indoor/outdoor clinic on bluebird conservation. Free bluebird box plans.
Dr. Seuss' Birthday Read-A-Thon
Saturday, March 6 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Join our "Read Across America Day" mirth to mark the date of Dr. Seuss' birth. We'll read the Seuss books that have classical stature, with those animal names of unnatural nature. Whether sister or brother, or father or mother, parent and child must accompany each other. On top of all that, meet the Cat in the Hat and win nifty prizes for the Seuss-iest noses, shoeses and eyeses.
Discover the Pine Bush
Sunday, February 28 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Our experts will guide you through this one-mile hike over rolling sand dunes where you will discover Pine Bush natural history, seasonal surprises and transformations. Please remember to wear sturdy walking shoes, long pants and bring drinking water. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free. Call 518-456-0655 to register.
Full Moon Rising
Saturday, February 27 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
David Terrazas, Central New York Astronomy Club, will take you for a telescopic walk on the moon, covering the craters, wrinkles, bumps and markings of this amazing rock. Dress warmly for both indoors AND outdoors.
Adams Farm Mud Walk
Saturday, March 6 at 10:00 AM
Walk along the muddy trails of Adams Farm and look at all of the farm animals. Call 607-674-4017 for details.
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Snow Topiaries and Bouquets
Saturday, February 27 at 10:30 AM
Snow is not just for building snowmen. Come learn how to build a snow turtle, deer, turkey and a vase for bouquets with snow. Dress for the weather.
Moonlight Cross-Country Ski Tour
Sunday, February 28 at 6:30 PM
Ski by the light of the moon. Bring your own skis or rent a pair (limited sizes). Ski rental $2.00/pair; free for Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve members.
After School Escape
Thursday, March 4 at 4:30 PM
Enjoy a one-hour program for kids featuring a different, fun outdoor activity each week. For children in grades K-5. Registration is not required.
Saturday, March 6 at 10:30 AM
Join us for the final snowshoe walk of the season. Snowshoe rental $2.00/pair; free for Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve members.