How to observe forest animals? 7 rules to follow


Observing a wild animal in its natural environment can bring a lot of happiness. If all animals do not observe each other in the same way, from the moment that one poses as a humble and attentive observer, the reward of a unique spectacle is there. As long as you follow certain rules.

1- Learn about the animals you want to observe

It is important to document the animals you want to observe beforehand. You should of course know if these animals live at night or during the day, but also what their daily activities consist of, what is their favorite food, how and where they sleep, what is the breeding season and the period in which they breed. their young, etc.

You will find a lot of information on the Internet of course, but do not neglect the books which can develop very specific contents.

2- Look for signs of the presence of animals to observe

Many animals that you can observe in the forests evolve on a given territory. The identification of the traces of their passage is the first fieldwork to achieve. This may be :

  • the prints that their paws have left in loose soil (mud, sand, snow),
  • excrement,
  • nests,
  • tufts of hair torn off when they rub against a tree,
  • feathers that have come loose,
  • rejection balls,
  • of the returned earth,
  • dug galleries …

All these elements are to be cross-checked with the documentation that you will have collected beforehand and come to enhance your understanding of the way in which the animals in which you are interested live.

The summer territorial marking of brocade, the name given to the male deer, is an interesting example. Its highly visible marks are called “smears”. The brocade chooses very young trees with soft bark to lacerate them with its antlers in order to strip them 20 to 30 cm high. In doing so, it deposits its scent there. Whether or not close to the smear, the brocade also scratches the ground with its hind legs to create another mark called “regalis”.

Regarding direct observation and approach, we must keep in mind that animals identify humans as a potential danger and that we underestimate the performance of their senses. It is therefore essential:

  • that they don’t see you,
  • that they don’t feel you,
  • they can’t hear you.

3- Have a discreet smell

In humans, the sense of smell is little mobilized. On the other hand, odors are of great importance in forest animals, especially for materialize their territory, through urine, glandular secretions and droppings.

Beyond the territorial marking, these odors constitute like an identity card which provides information on the sex of the animal, its availability for reproduction and its age, given all the more important during the reproduction period when competition between individuals of the same species is increased.

Smell is even more important for animals with nocturnal activity. Many animals have a vision that is reduced to a greater or lesser extent: under these conditions, hearing and smell effectively complement the perception of their environment.

To observe animals, you will therefore not wear perfume and will not spray yourself with mosquito repellants. In case of windeven weak, you should position yourself so that it does not carry your scent to the place where you have identified a particular activity or to the animal. Finding the right angle of observation and approach can take time because it often requires making detours.

4- Visually blend into the landscape

The visual camouflage is perhaps the most playful preparation for observing forest animals. You will put on the colors that allow you to blend in with the surroundings. The goal is to break the contours of the silhouette and thus to be less visible.

Special precautions should be taken during hunt : It would indeed be very dangerous to make yourself invisible to hunters. Find out about the hunting seasons in your region! It may be wise to forgo the observation of forest animals during these few months. And if you don’t want to give up, add pieces of fluorescent orange fabric to your camouflage gear, like the one hunters wear to identify with each other. It is a color that is hardly perceived by mammals such as wild boars. This will ultimately only slightly reduce the effectiveness of your outfit.

5- Move in silence

Finally, the silent approach should be cultivated. First, we must stop talking. If you get young children used to taking an observation walk, the reflex of silence will gradually be acquired. Communication by signs is essential!

Your progress must of course be done carefully, avoiding walking on potentially noisy areas: dead leaves, twigs, etc.

6- Cultivate the art of patience

Watching animals is a wonderful school of patience.

When you start, luck is not always there and clumsiness can accumulate. But we must not give up if the results are not there right away. It is by practicing that one learns, mistakes are rich in teaching. By dint of exits, you will know the terrain better and better, your eye will become more seasoned and your attention will be refined. You will simply develop your own senses!

Also remember that each species has a safety distance that is unique to it. Animals know how to judge how far they can flee to save their lives. It varies a lot depending on the top speed they are able to achieve. This information is logically part of the data collected upstream: what is the approach distance that can accept the animals you want to see evolve? To reach this limit, you will then have to proceed in stages, approaching gradually, while waiting for the guard of the animal to lower between each step taken to progress again.

Binoculars are a very useful accessory for observing animals. They must be well lit because it is often at dawn and dusk that the most interesting things happen. For the technique of the lookout, which requires long hours of waiting, sometimes for nothing, some are equipped with tents, carefully camouflaged. This technique is widely used by wildlife photographers. Even in a tent, you have to limit movement and noise.

7- Listening to animals

Learning to recognize animal cries is a good addition to observation. If you can’t see them, you can hear them. They are also signs of their presence that can help you be patient a little longer, even when you were about to give up. Finally, certain particular cries are launched as an alert for the group to which they belong and may indicate that they have spotted you.

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