Nature Journaling #255: How to Identify Animal Tracks

Nature journals are a fun way to pass the time. To many Great Parks nature interpreters, they are a tool that fosters meaningful connections with the natural world.

Join us in keeping a nature journal throughout 2021. This is your journal – something to help you connect to the natural world around you and make discoveries along the way.

If the weather is too awful to go outside for your nature observation, take a peak out a window from the comfort of inside your home! If you do venture outside, you may want to take a small pocket notebook to make notes or quick sketches to work further with them when you get back inside. Also, use a pencil – ink in a pen could freeze if it is too cold! Any notebook will work for your journal.

Racoon tracks on a log in the snow.
Have you spotted raccoon tracks like these recently? Photo by Mary Stefanski/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest Region.

Today’s Prompt: How to Identify Animal Tracks

Squirrels are a common resident in just about every neighborhood. But do you ever see any other mammals, like chipmunks or raccoons? You might not see the actual critters, but can you find their tracks? To more easily find tracks, look in any soft ground, wet area or snow.

Draw the animal prints you see or snap a photo. Research the animal tracks you found to see what mammal left them. What do you think they were doing in the area? Why did they leave?

A Few Tips for Success:

  • Work with your child’s attention span. If they aren’t enjoying an activity, allow them to choose a new one. If they are highly focused, give them plenty of time to continue the observations.
  • Allow creativity. Children often have interests that go beyond the questions we pose. Create a safe environment so they can create and explore on their terms.
  • Journal along with your child. You never know what you may discover and it’s a great way to spend some quality time together.
  • Try activities at different times of day. Observations may change with time and temperature.

Want to try your hand at different nature journaling topics? Click here for more prompts.