Who Done It?

These tracks were found in the shallows of a side channel of the Sandy River at Dabney Park near Portland, Oregon. Each track is about 3 inches long.

Photo by Dennis Deck

What made these tracks? [ View Answer ]


First note this bird has a certain asymetry to its track. The four toes do not join at a common point. The trailing toe (#1) and the middle toe (#3) are offset from each other. This pattern is characteristic of one family of large wading birds. If you guessed heron, you are on the right track.

Second note that these tracks are moderately large but still considerably smaller than that of the familiar great blue heron. The green heron, a small cousin of the great blue, commonly feeds along small streams and backwaters. The green heron is less well known, probably due to his small size and more secretive habits. As seen below, their tracks are very similar except that the great blue's track is more than twice as long (6-8").

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