Welcome to the March 2008 Alderleaf eNewsletter from Alderleaf Wilderness College!

In this issue...

1.) Feature Article: Zygo-what? Tracking Owls and Woodpeckers
All owls and woodpeckers have a unique footprint that can be easily identified...

2.) Upcoming Tracking Classes!
Friday Evening Presentation with Susan Morse, Carnivore Workshop, Wildlife Tracking for Professionals, Expedition in South Africa...

3.) Accepting Applications for the Wilderness Certification Program
Our most comprehensive course covering wilderness survival, medicinal plants, wildlife tracking, permaculture, and more...

Feature Article: Zygo-what? Tracking Owls and Woodpeckers

Many outdoors-people are able to recognize the presence of owls in an area by finding their pellets under large perch trees. Similarly, woodpeckers are often detected by observing their characteristic excavations into trees, snags, downed logs, and stumps. Though there is another way to confirm the presence of these species in an area – through their very unique footprints.

Many bird species have feet with three toes forward and one pointing behind. This type of bird track can often be difficult to identify. There are, however, certain groups of birds that have very unique, unmistakable footprints. Two of these groups are owl and woodpecker species.

All owls and woodpeckers have a unique foot structure known as, “zygodactyl”. What an interesting word, eh? This fancy word basically means that the foot has two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward. This foot structure creates a “K-shaped” track (see drawings below).

Owls are unique in that the K-shape points outward. The K-shape in woodpecker tracks points inwards. Here are some examples. Enjoy, and keep an eye out for zygodactyl tracks!

For more information about owl and woodpecker tracks, check out
Bird Tracks and Sign by Mark Elbroch.

Upcoming Tracking Classes!

1.) Wildlife Presentation with Susan Morse, visiting guest instructor from Vermont. This Friday night, March 28th,
7 to 9pm at the Stonehouse Bookstore.

2.) Carnivore Tracking Workshop with Susan Morse: Special field course, this coming weekend, March 28, 29, and 30th. Several spaces still available!

3.) Wildlife Tracking for Environmental Professionals: Learn valuable technical tracking skills that can be employed in wildlife inventories and research projects. May 17-18. Taught by Alderleaf founder, Jason Knight.

4.) Tracking Expedition in South Africa! A unique opportunity to learn from expert South African trackers, while trailing Africa's large game. July 1-23.

Find out more about these upcoming tracking classes at www.WildernessCollege.com!

Accepting Applications for the Wilderness Certification Program!


Becoming highly skilled at wilderness survival skills that enhance your connection with nature and aid in emergencies...

Learning how to use wild plants for food and medicine to bring greater health to yourself, your community, and the earth...

Developing the ability to read animal tracks and sign to support wildlife conservation efforts and increase awareness...

Understanding how to work with nature sustainably to create green regenerative living practices...

Knowing how to pass on these skills to others in a way that inspires hope, leadership, and action...

The Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program is our most comprehensive training program and is accepting applications for September 2008!

Learn more about the Wilderness Certification Program

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Alderleaf Wilderness College
17921 175th Place SE
Monroe, WA 98272
United States
(206) 369-8458

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