An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide –

Track Stories

1-9-19 coyote gets vole_u1a8956Finally – a snowstorm not followed by rain! Tracking has been challenging, to say the least, this winter in central Vermont. However, 36 hours after the latest snowstorm, there was a plethora of track stories to read in the snow. A ruler or measuring tape and a good field guide to tracks (Mammal Tracks & Sign by Mark Elbroch and Tracking & The Art of Seeing by Paul Rezendes come to mind for indoor resources, and the smaller Mammal Tracks and Scat: Life-Size Pocket Guide by Lynn Levine for keeping in your backpack) will allow you to determine who’s been where and what they’ve been up to. Signs of feeding, marking and seeking shelter are just a few of the things these stories reveal.

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

11 responses

  1. Another terrific entry, Mary! I envy your snow for tracking. In Rhode Island, conditions often make tracking impossible. Have a clear set like the ones you posted (along with your expert interpretations) tells a fascinating story. Thanks!

    January 9, 2019 at 8:32 am

  2. Alice Pratt

    The fleeting signs of animals are so interesting.

    January 9, 2019 at 8:37 am


    A new edition of the book is coming out in July, is it worth waiting for you think????

    January 9, 2019 at 8:50 am

    • Friday’s post will announce the new edition of Naturally Curious. The bulk of the content is the same as the first edition. New photos are in it, with some changes in text, but not significantly different from the original book. Thank you for asking about it!

      January 9, 2019 at 9:12 am

  4. We’re glad to have fresh snow in Randolph Ctr VT… we snowshoe our woods trails frequently and love to see who has been out and about. It can be frustrating, but I’ve learned to relax about pinning down who is who and just enjoy the story in front of me. One thing I do wonder about: coyotes and fox don’t like to share territory yet I see both tracks along our trails.

    January 9, 2019 at 8:58 am

    • Foxes and coyotes do share territories, even though they are competing for food. Apparently they tolerate each other’s presence in more urban areas than in rural settings, where coyotes occasionally kill foxes, but for the most part, they co-exist.

      January 9, 2019 at 9:20 am

  5. Joe Scott

    Thank you Mary for this interesting post, and for all the posts you make throughout the year.

    Another good resource for tracking in the field is the iTrack Pro app, which is easy to use and has excellent content. Now all I need is a little more willpower to get out there more often. 😊

    Joe Scott
    Chatham, NH

    January 9, 2019 at 9:52 am

    • Thank you, Joe. I wasn’t aware of this app, and will check it out!

      January 9, 2019 at 4:46 pm

  6. Fabulous! Even better than your usual excellence, thank you.

    January 9, 2019 at 9:52 am

  7. Sarah Zuccarelli

    Dear Mary, I enjoy all that you post and am educated often in areas that I thought I really knew well. I have a question: When do barred owls hatch their eggs??? When do the adults begin the desperate challenge of finding enough food to feed their young still in the nest? I have many bird guides and do not find that information in any. I even tried to get in touch with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and had to leave a message for a “call you back”. Haven’t heard a word in 3 days. Called NH Fish and Game and spoke with a pleasant woman in the wildlife department who was trying to check with one of the “biologists” and could only tell me what she found in their records for Vermont in 2017. She said that the young owls fledged in June and July. OK….so when did they actually hatch in the nest, please??? What is the length of incubation?

    I currently have an adult barred owl that comes close to my house in the daytime and just sits and watches…..either warming in the sun and/or waiting to find a meal. I am over run with red and grey squirrels and have active meadow mice shrews and pine voles tunneling! My poor gardens will show the effects of their activities in Spring.

    I hope you can help me! I have 32 years of experience as the resident director of the Chapman Sanctuary & Visny Woods. Check the website please. It is a good place to visit!! Sarah Zuccarelli

    SWZ/NH Please visit and support (‘> ( ) / ”

    January 9, 2019 at 10:20 am

    • Hi Sarah,
      Barred owls lay eggs around the end of March, incubation is roughly a month (April), and the nestlings fledge after another month, so they are in the nest and being fed all through May. About the end of May/early part of June they fledge. They can’t fly for several weeks, and the parents continue to bring them food through the summer. A good source of information is Cornell has this site, plus, for a fee, you can go online to their Birds of North America Online – a vast and accurate source of information about North American bird species. I, too, have a resident barred owl – we are so lucky!

      January 16, 2019 at 9:51 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s