The answer is TURKEY.
Most tracks with 4 toes, with one toe pointing backwards, indicate some
kind of bird. The size of the feet and the stride in this quiz indicate
it is a large bird, on the order of a turkey, pheasant, goose, heron,
crane, or stork for example. Cranes & storks don’t live in this area
(central Connecticut). Pheasants have smaller tracks than these, and
great blue herons have larger tracks with much longer, skinnier toes.
Geese only leave 3 toes in their tracks, and webbing can be seen
distinctly in their tracks. That pretty much narrows it down to turkey
for this quiz.
Although turkeys have 4 toes, the print from the rear
toe is shorter & stubbier than the other toes relative to most other
birds; often the rear toe doesn’t show at all. That’s another clue that
The habitat is also more ideal for turkey than any of the other
birds. The acorns & beechnuts of the surrounding forest make for ideal
habitat for turkey – they thrive in this location.
It can be difficult to find turkey tracks when there isn’t snow on
the ground, as turkeys spend most of their time in forests & fields
where tracks are hard to see, rather than in sand or mud where tracks
show well. In my experience, most turkey tracks in sand / mud usually do
not show the rear toe, and the track in Photo N8 is the more common
appearance of the footprint. I believe Photo N5 shows the rear toe
because the sand was unusually wet & soft at that spot. The faster pace
of Photo N8 may have contributed to the rear toe not registering, but I
don’t know for sure; I’ve seen instances where a turkey was walking very
slowly in wet sand and did not show the rear toe.
When walking slowly, turkeys have almost zero straddle in their
stride (Photos N3-N5). In Photos N6-N8 with the faster gait, the turkey
widened its straddle, perhaps for better balance; I don’t know if this
is always the case for a faster gait.
I was very thankful for the wet weather for providing the excellent
tracking conditions and for the forest that provides the food for the
turkeys. I am also thankful to the turkeys who showed up to play a game
of 2-on-2 beach volleyball at lunchtime. Haha.
Hope you enjoyed this quiz and stay tuned for the next one!