A sparrow on an icy ledge

Winter Animal Signs

A sparrow on an icy ledge
A sparrow on an icy ledge

Winter animal signs are all around when we stop and really observe. Call this a winter scavenger hunt.

What to look for…

  • Young trees with bark rubbed off in autumn by a buck deer polishing his antlers
  • A large stick nest high in an oak tree, which maybe home to a great-horned owl or red-tailed hawk
  • A large leafy nest that maybe belong to a squirrel
  • Holes in dead trees that maybe home to cavity-nesting birds such as chickadees or woodpeckers
  • Furry pellets or hairballs regurgitated by an owl
  • Runaways through a field of grass made by small rodents
  • Black walnuts cracked in half by fox or gray squirrels
  • Pine cone eaten clean by squirrels
  • Porcupine droppings (they are orange) at the base of a tree
  • Hickory nuts nibbled on the edges by deer mice
  • A mud nest under a house made by cliff or barn swallows
  • Last year’s bird nests
  • Scattered feathers or fur from a predator’s meal
  • Tracks or droppings created by mammals and birds
  • Hoof or paw prints in the mud or snow
  • Burrows and dens in the side of a hill
  • The persistent smell of skunk

List reprinted from Sargent, M.S and Carter, K.S., ed. 1999. Managing Michigan Wildlife: A Landowners Guide.  Michigan United Conservation Clubs, East Lansing, MI. 297pp.

Other winter nature activities

Abandoned Winter Bird Nests

deer scat
deer scat

We're Listening