More tracks, before the snow is gone

It's been quite cold for the past few days, with lows in the 0-5ºF range, and highs in the teens, but warmer weather is on the way. In fact, it's supposed to be around 50ºF on Sunday, and the daily highs will stay at or above that level for a few days. What this means is that the hard-packed snow and ice on my driveway will finally be gone! It also means I'll have less opportunity for frigid mornings of fine snow dustings.

The powdery crystals are perfect for revealing what creatures have been visiting the yard, and this morning there seemed to be a larger number than usual.


The last time I looked at tracks in the snow I did so from within the house, shooting through the windows. This time though I braved the 8ºF temperature and got nice and close. Not only did I brave the cold, but I actually got down on my knees for most of these shots (tip: an old rubber doormat makes this not so unpleasant on wet, snowy, or dirty ground).

First up are the bird prints -- I think those are grackle prints above. The smaller, less-distinct prints mixed with the grackle prints in this next photo are harder to ID:

At first I thought they might be peck marks, where the grackles were searching around for food. But if that's what they are, then how did they leave peck marks without footprints in this next shot?

So now I'm thinking that the small prints are from smaller birds, like sparrows or juncos. I'm not obsessed with identifying all of these, but I do like learning  how to recognize signs of the natural world.

Next up is an easy one: raccoons!

Or a single raccoon I should say. When it's very cold, or there's freshly-fallen snow on the ground, raccoon traffic goes way down. I guess this one got too hungry and had to brave the elements.

Next are what I thought were definitely squirrel tracks, including some signs that there is some slippery ice under this snow:

Then I remembered that my wife saw a chipmunk out there yesterday (quite unusual at this time of year, especially with these temps!) so now I don't know if these are made by a squirrel, a chipmunk, or a mixture of both. Squirrel and chipmunk prints look pretty similar, especially when I don't have any size reference.

As I said, I'm not going to spend much time trying to figure out which they are.

It's been a long day and my brain is tired. How about an easy one next?

Not the cleanest track, but quite easy to recognize as white-tailed deer (the only type of deer we have around here). I haven't seen a deer for several weeks, but they're still around -- there are many tracks all over my yard.

That's the track of the mailman, coming to my door to borrow a shovel after getting his truck stuck on some ice a few houses down.

That warmer weather can't get here soon enough!

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