Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Field Guide To Animal Tracks

A Field Guide To Animal Tracks

Adult non fiction
"Olaus Murie reminds us very much of an earlier master, Ernest
Thompson Seton. Like Seton he was not only an eminent naturalist and
an accomplished woodsman but also a fine artist, able to interpret in
pen and ink the things he had witnessed. Dr. Murie's drawings in this
book were made in the field, except where it was impossible; he used
material in museums and zoos only where field specimens were
By now I imagine a lot of people are tired of snow, particularly
in states like Maine where we don't need Puxatawny Phil to tell us
what to expect weather wise. Perhaps a new activity might add some
renewed allure to the white stuff. What about the chance to play
detective and learn more about the non human critters who may be
dwelling unseen, often nocturnal or very wary of humans, in your
neighborhood? All you need is Olaus J. Murie's A Field Guide To
Animal Tracks and, of course, clothes suitable for outdoor expeditions.
This book, part of the Peterson Field Guide Series, is an oldie
but goodie, the second edition having come out in 1974. It covers
"every mammal for which tracks have been obtained in North America,
Mexico, and Central America--not only the common ones" as well as
birds, insects, and reptiles. A key to tracks gives a general idea of
the critter whose prints (and or scat which means poop) you have
discovered and directs you to the section of the book holding more
detailed information.
Let's say I'm strolling in the woids between the old and new
schools in Veazie. I see prints that are strangely like human hand
prints but a tad too small. I learn that a raccoon has probably
cruised by. Further into the book I can learn about its eating habits
and den locations.
Some animals like bears hibernate, but that's what we have mud
season for.
Tracks can give information that something is not quite right in
Mother Nature's world. I've started seeing skunk tracks quite early
for those hibernators to be out and about. That combined with early
arrival of migratory birds seems to point toward a warming trend.
You don't have to go out in the boonies to look for tracks and
scat. Due to human encroachment on wildlife habitat--that damnable
suburban sprawl--an amazing variety of critters have had to adapt to
life on our turf.
A Field Guide to Animal Tracks is only one of an amazing series
of field guides that covers everything from birds and butterflies to
rocks and stars. What they all have in common is raising awareness of
the amazing natural world we all too often avoid or ignore, stomping
through tethered to electronic devices. This, in my mind, is a very
good thing.
On a personal note, the most recent two Wilson Center programs have
been excellent. The first featured a film on Shirley Chisholm; the
second large and small group discussions on mental health and its
relationship to faith and religious traditions. Of course both
suppers were scrumptious.
A great big shout out goes out to my Wilson Center family.
jules hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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