Welcome to the first point of interest! Located between post # 10 and 11 is a tactile sign with various animal tracks.
Animal tracks can tell you a lot about the wildlife in your area. Not only can you discover what kinds of animals live near you, you can also know what direction they were heading in, how long ago they were in the area, how old the animal was, or how fast they could have been going!
Starting in the top right corner, you will can feel the the track of a Castor canaddensis, commonly known as a beaver.Since beavers live near water, their tracks are often found in mud, which gives good detail to the prints. Beaver tracks show webbing on the hind feet. Hind tracks can easily be six to seven inches long. The large tail sometimes leaves a drag mark in the trail. Beavers can run at six to eight miles per hour.
Just below and to the right is the track of Pseudacris regilla, commonly known as the Western Pacific Tree Frog. The ‘ribbit ribbit’ you hear close to the creek likely belongs to the Western Pacific Tree/Chorus Frog! These four-toed amphibians have pads on the tip of their toes that help them stick as well as powerful large back legs for launching themselves toward their next destination.
Just below is the track of Anas platyrhynchos, commonly known as the Mallard Duck. Ducks are special animals in that they have mastered all forms of movement- They can fly, swim and walk on land! Check out their webbed toes that help them paddle in the water.
Just to the left is the track of Haliaeetus leucocephalus, commonly known as the Bald Eagle. Eagles are powerful hunters. These raptors have strong, sharp claws that have the capacity to lift 15 pounds.
Just above is the track of Mephitis mephitis , commonly known as a Striped Skunk. Smelly striped skunks would rather be left alone so stay away at least 15 feet, the max distance of its defensive spray. They have long claws on their front feet that they use to dig up roots and insects.
Just above is the track of Sylvilagus bachmani, commonly known as a cottontail rabbit. Rabbits generally travel in a bounding gait as they move through a landscape. The distance between a set of tracks in a trail might be a few inches to over several meters or more, depending on speed of travel.
Just to the left is the track of Procyon lotor, commonly known as a Raccoon. Raccoons, with their familiar bandit-like masked appearance is deserved of the title- Their long agile fingers can open cars, untie knots, open latches and turn doorknobs. It is widely believed that raccoons wash their food but they actually use their sensitive hands to find food in the water and sort out items that are edible.
Just below are the tracks of Cyanocitta cristata, and Camarhynchus pallidus, commonly known as the Blue Jay and Wood Pecker respectively. Blue jays are known as passerine birds that fly from tree to tree. Notice that it has three toes that point forward and one toe that points back. It makes it easier for them to perch on branches. Some birds are great climbers. Woodpeckers have two forward and two backward-facing talons that help them go up and down tree trunks to navigate their many holes.
Just below is the track of Vulpes vulpes, commonly known as the red fox. There are steps to identify red fox tracks. Look for the claws at the tip of their paws. The gaps between the pads indicate fur in between. They have a chevron-shaped heel pad that distinguishes their tracks from all others.
Just down and to the left are the tracks of Sciurus griseus, commonly known as the gray squirrel. Gray Squirrels may have helped build the forest around you. They bury caches of seeds when food is abundant and sometimes forget about them, allowing saplings to grow. Their hind feet can rotate 180 degrees allowing them to climb down trees headfirst.
Just to the left is the track of Strix varia, commonly known as the Barred owl. Owls have feathers that cover their talons for extra protection from the weather. These feathers also allow the owl to sense their enclosed prey that might try to bite. Owls have four talons. When flying, three of them face forward with one backward. When clutching prey, the other toe faces the rear thanks to a flexible joint in their foot. The switch two-toed and three-toed grips when they perch.
Just above and to the right is the track of Odocoileus hemionus columbianu, commonly known as the Black tailed deer. Black tailed mule deer have among the most recognizable prints with their two-toed hooves. Male bucks shed their antlers ever year so if you’re lucky, you may find these forked prizes wherever deer may roam.
Just above and to the left is the track of Didelphis virginiana, commonly known as the Opossum. Opossums are the only North American marsupial that have pouches much like a kangaroo. They are excellent climbers, using their opposable thumbs on their back paws, their grasping human-like hands and prehensile tail to scale trees and difficult terrain.
Just slightly above and to the right is the track of Corvus brachyrhynchos, commonly known as the Crow. Have you seen a crow in winter? While our feet would freeze in the cold, their talons developed adaptations to keep them warm. Called a counter-current heat exchange, the blood flowing to their feet is just warm enough to heat the blood that flows away from their feet.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about the tracks of some of our local animals. Please proceed to the second point of interest located just 6 posts away. This next stop features an audio box, that is self powered by a hand crank. This crank must be turned multiple times around until a voice can be heard. You can then select up to 8 different audio tracks to listen from!
Once you reach the next point of interest please feel free to start the next stop of this audio tour.