Predator Peregrinations

By Carl Strang


After marveling over the crowd of goldfinches and pine siskins described in yesterday’s post, I took a looping route through Mayslake Forest Preserve. Almost right away I found where a mink had crossed the mansion grounds the previous night.




On one of my early exploratory walks at Mayslake in November I saw a rock in the little stream that had what appeared to be mink droppings on it. Mink like to leave these calling cards on distinctive elevated landmarks, no doubt to make it easy for other mink to find them. In this case the droppings appeared to be composed mainly of invertebrate exoskeleton material.




I didn’t have time to follow the mink tracks through all of their wanderings. The animal had gone back and forth over the north mansion grounds and around the chapel with the occasional hieroglyphics that distinguish an active, hunting weasel like the mink.




The mink appeared to have come and gone from the direction of the little stream that flows north out of Mays Lake. I also found mink tracks, perhaps by the same animal, around the origin of that stream and along the eastern shore of that lake, with a side trip up onto the adjacent ridge. It’s tempting to think of mink as water animals, but I often have found their tracks well away from water.


Near Mays Lake the mink trail crossed that of two coyotes.




Up until then I had seen only one set of coyote tracks at a time but here were two, possibly members of a pair, hunting together. While the two stayed together all the way from the south part of the preserve, along the main trail to the mansion grounds and on north and west, there were occasional side trips by one or both. Sometimes one stepped in the tracks of the other, presumably to save energy, and sometimes they walked apart.




Tracking is a valuable tool in mammal inquiries, especially in winter. I have begun to write a primer on tracking for this blog, and I think I had better start it tomorrow.

1 Comment

  1. February 9, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    […] has been a while since I’ve written much about Mayslake’s mink. After the snow accumulated to a significant depth there was a period when I didn’t run across […]

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