Wolf Ridge

Tracking a Wily Weasel


Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
January 13, 2015

Next to a pile of firewood is a story written in the snow. Scrambling tracks, blood, and a fresh pile of feathers paint a picture. Reddish, brownish, and blackish feathers belong to the unfortunate victim, a Ruffed Grouse. Classic bounding weasel tracks nearby reveal the predator to be a Pine Marten. Depressions in the snow suggest the grouse is being dragged into the forest.

 

Ruffed Grouse feathers and exposed crop

Ruffed Grouse feathers and exposed crop.

 

A feather here, a feather there, and thrashing marks litter the ground from flailing wings. The struggle doesn’t last long, but drag marks in the snow lead deeper into the forest. Over logs, around rocks, and through shrubbery, eventually the tracks come to an end. The weasel enters a hollowed-out snow cave underneath a rotten log; the secret stashing spot revealed. Feathers line the entrance and can be seen leading inside.

 

Pine Marten tracks accompanied by drag marks from the grouse

Pine Marten tracks accompanied by drag marks from the Grouse.

 

The Marten’s tracks appear again out the back of the snow cave and then up into a tree. A cavity hole in the tree about ten feet off of the ground seems a likely resting place; maybe even home…

 

Tree Cavity used by a Pine Marten as a denning site

Tree Cavity used by a Pine Marten as a denning site.

 

A trail camera waits in the forest to photograph the wily weasel.

 

Fisher: a weasel relative of the Pine Marten

Fisher: a larger weasel relative of the Pine Marten.

Long Tail Weasel: a relative of the Pine Marten

Long Tail Weasel: a smaller relative of the Pine Marten.

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