Nature Blog Network

Friday, February 5, 2010

More Following Along

I spent a lovely morning (well, part of a morning) tracking. With kindergartners. Tracking with kindergarten is always an adventure. Some of the interesting things about tracking with people that young:
1. They are super excited about everything. Which is great... sort of. The problem is, they are excited about everything, so when you have to tell them that that isn't really a track, but rather a place where an icicle dripped, it feels like breaking their little hearts. (But I can't just let them think all those indents in the snow are animal tracks, that's not right either.) On the other hand, the disappointment only lasts about 2 seconds before there is new excitement for the place where the plow splashed onto the snow.

2. Their feet are everywhere. I tried to get some pictures this morning, but I had to get them fast before 42 tiny boots trampled all over the tracks. No matter how many times you try to explain that no one else can see the track if they step on top of it, and no matter how well you put them in a line to follow behind... before long there is snow in, or footprints on top of, all the tracks.

3. They think everything is a rabbit track. This morning, we didn't actually see any rabbit tracks. We saw a lot of tracks -- vole, coyote, dog, opossum (I'm 99% on that one), squirrel, bird -- and they guessed rabbit for every single one of them.
This was a rabbit track.(Note: that was a large dog track, so it would have to be a gigantic rabbit.)
These? Also rabbit tracks.And those are kindergarten hands, so scale-wise, those tracks are TINY. I am not sure why rabbit is the default, no-thought-involved guess, but it is...

So I was pretty surprised when a kindergartner out-tracked me. The tracks in question were these. They were all over, making circles and crossing each other... I wanted to take a picture of the overall scene, but I had my camera in my pocket, and by the time I got it out and my gloves off... well, see #2 above.

Anyhow... I could tell they were bird tracks. In some of them you could actually see not only the shape of the foot, but the imprint of wrinkled skin. They were quite large -- way bigger than typical songbird tracks, but not large enough to be a hawk and not webbed enough to be a water bird. In places they had clearly stopped to scratch the ground. But my brain? Didn't come up with the answer. So I took some pictures, planning to think about it later. Then, back in the classroom, as a wrap-up, I asked the kids to review what tracks we had seen. (You guessed it! "Rabbit" was the first answer!) But then they listed the ones we actually saw, and we got a pretty complete list but the bird wasn't on it. So I said... "There was one more I remember -- it was over by the barn..." and a girl raises her hand, I call on her, and she says, "Oh, yeah... the crow tracks."

That's right, folks. She figured it out before I did. I am not sure how, actually. I guess my students are just tracking geniuses (the rabbit thing notwithstanding) and I'm going to go ahead and take some of the credit for that. It makes me feel slightly less stupid.

1 comment:

  1. Those silly wabbits trick the kids all the time.