March 2015: Animal tracking

Cover of Tracking & the Art of Seeing by Paul Rezendes, 1992

March 2015 library profile:

Animal tracking


"To the young, oncoming naturalist, I would say: Never forget the trail, look ever for the track in the snow; it is the priceless, unimpeachable record of the creature's life and thought, in the oldest writing known on the earth. Never forget the trail!"

~Ernest Thompson Seton



One of the joys of walking the grounds of The Morton Arboretum in winter is the excitement of spotting animal tracks in the snow. Was a deer passing by? Maybe it as a rabbit or a fox! The Sterling Morton Library can help you learn to see animal tracks and signs that give clues as to what animals have been around and how they interacted with each other and the environment. Paul Rezendes book Tracking & the Art of Seeing is divided up into chapters by animal families and species. Rezendes explores the characteristics, tracks and trail patterns, and signs (scat, prey, signs of feeding) of each type of animal providing supporting photographs and drawings that illustrate his explanations and descriptions. This emphasis on signs apart from just tracks is important in understanding and reading sites where animals have been, and knowing these signs can help identify ambiguous or unclear tracks and give clues as to the animal's purpose and behavior instead of just direction of travel. Learn how to track animal prints in the snow, identify signs of digging or eating, or just learn more about animal behaviors using this and other resources that the Sterling Morton Library provides!



"Searching for tracks is one of the most exciting things to do in all of nature, for tracks are a direct link to an animal's presence, and you never know beforehand whose track you may discover. To find tracks requires looking in places where animals live and on surfaces where their feet will leave impressions. There are four good surfaces that register tracks - snow, mud, dust, and sand. Snow is one of the best, for it usually provides a large, continuous surface that enables you to track an animal over a long distance and learn more about its behavior... the best snow is slightly moist and just a few inches deep; this does not inhibit the animals' movements, and it retains perfect impressions."

~from A Guide to Animal Tracking and Behavior by Donald and Lillian Stokes, p. 11


Library resources

Tracking & the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks & Sign by Paul Rezendes, 1992

A Field Guide to Mammal Tracking in North America by James Halfpenny, 1986

A Guide to Animal Tracking and Behavior by Donald and Lillian Stokes, 1986

A Field Guide to Animal Tracks by Olaus J. Murie, 1954

Tracks and Trailcraft by Ellsworth Jaeger, 1948

Animal Tracks by George F. Mason, 1943

Tracks by E.A.R. Ennion and N. Tinbergen, 1967

Animal Tracks and Signs by Preben Bang, 2006

Animal Tracks of the Great Lakes States by Chris Stall, 1989


Reader's advisory

If you are interested in animals, check out some of our books on mammals or our large circulating collection on birds and ornithology.


Click here to see previous Monthly Library Profiles!