No matter what time of year you find yourself outside, there are ALWAYS signs that animals have been there.
1) Evidence of feeding. This can be anything from acorn shells, trees with bite marks on them and even broken forbs and grasses.
2) Smells- Remember, just because you don’t see an animal doesn’t mean there hasn’t been one there. Besides vision you have to use your other senses as observations. One being your snoot, or your nose. Think really hard and see if there is one stinky animal that comes to mind, which more than likely you have smelled more than you have seen. That’s right! A Skunk! Skunks have a very strong odor smell in which they use to protect themselves from other predators. Foxes are another animal that stink. They have a very strong urine smell that says “hey, this is my territory, back off.” This lets other animals, and other foxes know that this area is already occupied.
3) Animal Runways- This works best to see in tall grasses or snow. These are going to be pathways that you might see from an animal making its way through to the other side or another area.
4) Scat- Scat is just a fancy scientific word for animal poop or droppings. Scat can tell us a lot about an animal. What it eats, where it drops its scat, such as a fox who usually lays it right in the middle of a trail for us to step in or find! You can also tell what animals are in the area by finding and identifying their scat.
5) Homes- Animal homes come in all different shapes and sizes. Such as a beaver dam, a bird nest, a coyote den, etc. These might be very visible or not so visible depending on the animal.
6) Tracks- Some tracks you will see all the time like raccoon, or deer. This means that there are a lot of those animals around. But some you may not find very often like coyote, or even a mountain lion!
7) Calls or songs- I’m sure all of us have heard a bird singing during the day, or maybe have even heard a Treefrog at night? This is another way to use a different sense besides your sight.
8) Animal Parts- Sometimes you may come across a bone, or a skull, or even an antler. But, you might also find a feather, a turtle shell or even a snake shed. All these are animal parts that they have left behind.
9) Animal Sighting- And of course, you might actually SEE an animal, which is great! Remember there are nocturnal, diurnal and crepuscular animals, so they are out all the time, just remember to observe from afar as to not disturb them.
So the next time you are outside, remember to use all your senses to find traces of animals, I bet you will be surprised on how much you find!