Tracks, Trails and Tales in the Snow

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Which way did the rabbit go? That was perhaps the wildlife tracking question I enjoyed using the most when I first came to Michigan and worked at the nature center of Cranbrook. Over three decades later, “when rabbit tracks appear in snow” is still my favorite trailside introduction to stir excitement in children – and their parents. Rabbits bound between shrubs and brush, and when a rabbit bounds (they don’t “walk”), they land with their hind feet side by side and their front feet behind their back feet, with the front feet landing with one in front of the other. Confusing? Not once you get field practice! However, if the tracks end at the base of a tree and just disappear, it’s either a tree climbing rabbit (a very rare species indeed), or more likely a squirrel.

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Wildlife Adventure Stories in the Snow

The Wilder Side of Oakland County

The eastern coyote is seldom seen, but tracks tell the winter tale of its wandering.

The eastern coyote is seldom seen, but tracks tell the winter tale of its wandering.

Winter is the perfect time to search for some of the most elusive creatures of Oakland County, especially nocturnal mammals and those species that struggle to avoid human contact. If you think there isn’t much to discover in the dead of winter in the Oakland County Parks, it’s time to think again. Tracks and trails in the snow are clues akin to those scattered about in a good detective novel. Sometimes the tracks and trails leave one with a shock and awe feeling, perhaps wondering, “What happened here?” Continue reading