Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Search for the Snowshoe Hare

Sunday I decided I wanted to try and find a snowshoe hare, so I headed to a brushy overgrown area where I'd seen the tail end of a hare the weekend before. Logic suggested that if the hare was there a week ago, this was possibly its territory and I'd have a shot of seeing it again.

Browse was heavy in the area. Too high above the snow for hares; must be deer.

This bed was waaay too big for a hare - I could've curled up in it. White-tail deer have been bedding down beneath the conifer boughs.

Nice pile of scats - but too oval for hare, and pointy on one end. Once again, deer.

Further in the trees, we came across some great grouse tracks! (We? Toby, of course, was with me.) Look at how fat those toe prints are! Great evidence of the flaps, or scales, that this bird grows on the sides of each toe to increase its foot size, an adaptation for easier winter travel on the snow. Come spring these scales will have worn off, only to be replaced next fall.

We found some deer hair. The hairs are sheared at the bottom. Uh-oh...did someone become a feast for someone else?

Near the hair was this brown lump. I scuffed it up from the snow with the toe of my boot because it looked interesting. There were hairs stuck to it. It had an interesting texture. Could it be a scat? It's a large scat, if that's what it is (it was about the size of my hand). Might be the animal had rather liquid stools that day. Maybe it ate part of the deer and the food didn't agree with it's digestion? There were no predator tracks around...this was probably an old feeding site.

Mouse tracks - we found some of those:

And there were plenty of snowshoe hare tracks,

but not a snowshoe hare to be found. And we can't blame the dog, because he was with me the week before when I saw the hare. I know what it was...the hares all knew I had my camera with me and they went into hiding. It never fails.


  1. See? You go looking for one thing and find lots of others. About that brown wad of stuff you thought might be scat: could it be part of the deer's digestive tract? I watch as carrion-eaters polish off a deer carcass, and there's usually some brown lumps left behind.

  2. Well, y'know, Jackie, I considered that. It had kind of a fine texture to it, though, like pate, which led me to think scat. I have dissected my share of deceased critters, and this didn't look like any part of an animal I've seen before. That said, I've never done a deer - they are ruminants, aren't they? Maybe it's part of the rumen? I should've collected the thing and taken it next door to see if the biologists there knew what it was. Maybe I'll ask Charlotte anyway.

  3. I love the grouse and mouse toe prints! It's amazing how cute footprints can be.

  4. Woodswoman - I agree. I think mouse tracks are about the cutest things out there. They actually remind me of horseshoe crabs - same overall shape, but much, much smaller.

  5. Hmm. I see lots of tracks around here, and recognize the obvious, bunnies, deer. I need you to drop by and identify some of the others for me because I never seem to get around to looking them up!

  6. I came across your blog entry in a web wide search for inspiration for my needle felted snow hare. I found my inspiration right here! I vacation in Keene Valley every year. I can't imagine the splendor of the adirondack park in winter.

    Your pictures have inspired me to put my snowshoe hare in a shadow box with a snow scene, foot prints, and some twiggy foreground hopefully with some red berries.

    I'm going to browse your blog some more now. Take care, Sara Renzulli

  7. Hey, Sara - glad to be of help! I'd love to see a photo of your hare when it's done!