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Tracking Quizzes

Quiz #15 - Answer

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 suggests turkey.

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!


Quiz #15 - Question      ...on to Quiz #16

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