Winter Animal Signs

Animal signs - Cicada insect shell
Animal signs – Black Walnut hull cracked open by a squirrel or a fox.

Winter animal signs are all around when we stop and really observe. We may not see the abundance of active animals during the cold weather of late autumn and winter, but they are still around.

Some animals may be deep in burrows or pond mud hibernating. Other animals have died but left their shells.


Animal signs - Cicada insect shell
Animal signs – Cicada insect shell in my backyard.

What Animal Signs 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 may be 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
Animal signs – A split tree with woodpecker holes.

Recommended Field Guides

These feed guides have photographs of animal signs. The links are affiliate links. I receive a small amount which goes to the support of this website.

Autumn in the Natural World by Donna L. Long

Tracks and Signs of Insects and Other Invertebrates: A Guide to North American Species by Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney (affiliate link to

Bird Tracks & Sign : A Guide to North American Species  by Mark Elbroch, Eleanor Marks, C. Delores Boretos.

Mammal Tracks & Sign: A Guide to North American Species by Mark Elbroch

Tracks & Sign of Reptiles & Amphibians: A Guide to North American Species by Filip A. Tkaczyk

praying mantis egg case
Overwintering praying mantis egg case.

Related Posts

Storing Food for the Winter (How to Hoard)

Hibernation is Suspended Animation

Insects in Winter

Winter Bird Migrations and Irruptions (videos)

Drawing Insects



    • Funny – I think badgers are pretty exciting. Maybe because I love The Wind in the Willows.

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