-quote from this favorite book on animal tracking.
Mason says that each nature walk should afford one new thing to see and know. I didn't realize the truth in this until I made it a priority to really get to know our own woods better. We try to get out for a walk (however short due to cold temps) each day. It usually involves picking chicken eggs and bringing them the day's kitchen scraps, which they love! We put on all our warm gear, and I bundle up the baby in his tiny boots and an extra blanket. I pull him in his little sled behind me. He loves to lean over the edge and trail his fingerless mitten in the snow as we go along.
The tracks came out from a hole in the foundation of our old shed. We could tell from the direction the toes pointed that the little critter headed straight over to the drippy water spigot. My husband's footprints were visible around it, as he had filled the chicken waterer earlier that morning. It looked like the mouse got a drink, then walked around the base of the old elm tree (possibly looking for a store of seeds?) and then skittered back to his warm hole. That was another really cold day. It was that experience that got my son really excited to hunt for tracks. He seemed to internalize it, and begin to form a relationship with his newly acquired knowledge of that little critter's habits and personality after this real-life experience. I know some people think mice are disgusting, but I found the whole thing really cool!
Since then, he has started noticing if the tracks we see are fresh or old (if snow has settled in them already.) He looks which direction they are going, and he notices the track pattern (squirrels and mice generally are more square and rabbits more triangular.) It might sound technical, but it really is fascinating to learn the ways we can know and describe God's creation a little better.
Reading this book below also sparked his interest. Have I mentioned how much I love Millecent Selsam's books? There is a newer version of this, but we like the illustrations and order of the text much better in the old one. Look for this cover: