Difference between revisions of "Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Nature/Animal Tracking"
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* ''The Complete Tracker'' by Len McDougall, 1997. ISBN 156731-326-4
* ''The Complete Tracker'' by Len McDougall, 1997. ISBN 156731-326-4
Revision as of 08:48, 17 June 2007
- 1 1. Know ten kinds of tracks, including two kinds of bird tracks. Make plaster casts of five.
- 2 2. Name at least three things that tracks tell us.
- 3 3. Trail some animal tracks, identify the animal if possible, and tell whether it was running or walking. Measure between the tracks of one animal when running and walking.
- 4 4. Maintain a tracking station for at least three days by doing the following:
- 5 5. Name two animals for each tracking group.
- 6 6. Name four signs of the presence of mammals.
- 7 7. Distinguish between rabbit and squirrel tracks, and between dog and cat family tracks.
- 8 8. Name two groups of animals (mammals, birds, insects, etc.) that leave tracks or scent trails that another of their kind can follow.
- 9 9. Name two birds for each of the following type of tracks:
- 10 10. Besides tracks, give two other signs of the presence of birds.
- 11 11. Name two birds identified by their flying patterns.
- 12 12. In your area, observe tracks or trail of one or more of the following:
- 13 References
1. Know ten kinds of tracks, including two kinds of bird tracks. Make plaster casts of five.
To do this, you will need to bring dry plaster of Paris, water, a mixing container, a mixing stick (a paint stirrer will do nicely), and something to make rings out of. Plaster of Paris can be bought either dry, or ready-mixed. It is probably better to get the dry type so that you can mix it on site. It will need to be soupy to make a detailed cast. When you find a suitable track, place a ring around it. The ring can be made from almost anything - a large tin can with the bottom cut out, a paper cup with the bottom removed, a strip of poster board 4 cm wide and taped together at the ends to form a circle, etc. Make sure the ring is larger than the track, and note that some tracks are 15 cm long or more. What a pity it would be to find a huge bear or moose track and not have a large enough ring to cast it! You can also make the cast without a ring, but it is much better if you use one. Once the ring is in place, mix just enough plaster and water to fill the ring up to 2.5 cm deep. It sets quickly, so you will not want to mix up too much at a time. Mix water with the dry plaster and stir it until it is smooth. It should be about the same consistency as pancake batter or apple sauce. Pour it into the ring. Once this is done, you can set out in search of more tracks, or you can wait until the plaster sets. If you set out for more, be sure to come back to collect your cast.
One good way to complete this requirement is by heading to a river right after flooding has receded. There will likely be plenty of easily identifiable kinds of tracks, and the smooth mud makes for excellent casting.
Snow is difficult to cast because it is not nearly as firm as mud. Furthermore, plaster generates heat when it is mixed, and this can easily melt the snow surrounding the track.
Reptiles and Amphibians
2. Name at least three things that tracks tell us.
Animal tracks can tell us many things about the animal that made them, including:
- The species
- Its direction of travel
- How fast it was going
- How large it was
- How long ago the animal made the tracks.
- Sometimes tracks can tell the gender of the animal
- Sometimes tracks can tell us the animal's age.
3. Trail some animal tracks, identify the animal if possible, and tell whether it was running or walking. Measure between the tracks of one animal when running and walking.
4. Maintain a tracking station for at least three days by doing the following:
a. Select a flat open space in some quiet place near your camp or home.
Do not select a space too close to your campsite, because you do not want to attract them into your camp. Animals need water, so a really good place to select is around a source of fresh water. River banks, stream banks, near ponds, and the shores of lakes are all good places to fin animal tracks. However, the place you select must be quiet. Avoid places that are frequented by people.
b. Smooth out ground, mud, sand, etc.
There may already be some tracks in the area, but you are interested in fresh tracks. Smoothing the ground erases them and allows for fresh prints.
c. Place food out for wildlife.
Another option is to use a salt or mineral block. The type of food you place will affect the type of animals you attract, as will the season. If there is plenty of food available without your "bait," the animals will be suspicious and stay away. However, if they are hungry (as in winter) or if the food you select is irresistable, they will be more likely to come. Sliced apples out of season will attract many types of animals.
d. Check each day for tracks and replenish food when necessary.
When camping, remember to store your food in a place where the animals cannot get to it. Seal it tightly and place it out of the reach of raccoons and bears (both of which are very clever at getting food). Under no circumstances should you store food in a tent - especially in one that people will be sleeping in. A tent poses no barrier to a hungry skunk.
The morning is the best time to check for tracks. Most forest creatures are nocturnal, so in the morning the tracks will be freshest. Also, human visitors are less likely to trample the tracks before you get a chance to observe and if necessary, cast them.
5. Name two animals for each tracking group.
- a. Flatfoots
- Flatfoots include bears, raccoons, porcupines, and skunks.
- b. Toe walkers
- Toe walkers include dogs, cats, lynxes, wolves, and coyotes.
- c. Toenail walkers
- Toenail walkers include deer, antelope, moose, pigs, cattle, and horses. Basically, any hoofed animal is a toe walker.
- d. Bounders or long hindleggers
- These include rabbits, squirrels, mice, and rats.
6. Name four signs of the presence of mammals.
Animals leave many indications that they were present. These are collectively called sign. Sign includes:
- Not only footprints, but marks left on the ground by the tail or by other body parts. Beavers and rats both leave tail marks on the ground.
- Scat is another word for animal droppings or manure.
- Fur and antlers
- Animals may leave bits of fur behind if it gets caught in a tree's bark, or in thorns. In the fall deer drop antlers.
- Cuttings are things such as acorn shells which have been nibbled on. Deer and squirrel often leave them behind.
- Scratches on trees
- Bears, members of the cat family, and other predators will sharpen their claws on tree trunks. Sometimes they will do this to mark their territory.
- Scent Posts
- Many animals mark their territory by urinating on trees or other prominent items. If you are walking through the woods and smell a strong musky odor, look around — you may find other sign.
- Once a predator has had its fill of a kill, it will leave the carcass. Some animals will guard their carcasses though so they can feed on them again after they've digested some of the previous meal, so be careful if you find one.
7. Distinguish between rabbit and squirrel tracks, and between dog and cat family tracks.
Rabbit vs Squirrel Tracks
Dog vs Cat Tracks
Unlike dogs, cats can retract their claws, and they do so when walking. Therefore, you should expect to find claw marks present in dog tracks, but absent in cat tracks. In general dogs tracks are larger than cat tracks, but you cannot rely on this alone, as there are some very small dogs and some very large cats.
8. Name two groups of animals (mammals, birds, insects, etc.) that leave tracks or scent trails that another of their kind can follow.
Some species of mammal and some species of insect leave scent trails to communicate with others of their species. Canines, cats, deer, moose, and others will mark their territory with urine.
Ants lay down pheromone trails that lead to food sources. If you have ever seen a column of ants scurrying about in single file, you can be sure they are following a scent trail.
9. Name two birds for each of the following type of tracks:
Most perching bird (passerines) hop, though many can both hop and walk (such as ravens, blackbirds, and robins). Jays, sparrows, cardinals, titmice, nuthatches, finches, and many others hop.
Walking birds include crows, most waterfowl and shore birds (sandpipers, egrets, herons, etc), and most game birds (wild turkeys, geese, ducks, grouse, doves, pigeons, etc).
10. Besides tracks, give two other signs of the presence of birds.
- Birdsongs (if you can hear them, they must be present!)
- Eggs or eggshells
- Pellets: Birds of prey regurgitate the indigestible portions of their meals. Birds have no teeth so they rip their prey apart with their beaks and swallow large chunks at a time. Then they digest the soft portions (such as meat) leaving the hair and bones behind to collect into pellets. They cough up these pellets which can be found by the astute observer.
11. Name two birds identified by their flying patterns.
12. In your area, observe tracks or trail of one or more of the following:
a. Toad or frog
- The Complete Tracker by Len McDougall, 1997. ISBN 156731-326-4