Be a Log Detective

Be a log detective

Sooner or later, the life of every living thing comes to an end. But life itself is never-ending. Take a close look at a fallen tree, and you’ll see.

What You Do

  • Pack a kit that includes a journal or sketch pad, pencil, field guide, magnifying glass, and maybe a camera.
  • Take a walk in the woods with family or friends. (Let an adult know where you are going.)
  • When you find a log, imagine what might have caused the tree to fall, and when.
  • Touch the log. Is it moist or dry, soft or hard? Knock on it. Does it sound solid or hollow?
  • What do you see on, around, and under the log? Look for plants, lichens, and fungi. Also look for animals or their signs, such as empty seed shells or nut husks, fur or feathers, tracks or scat (animal poop).
  • Peel back some bark to see what’s underneath. Check for holes or tunnels in the wood. If you can roll the log to check underneath, be sure to carefully move it back in place.
  • Record what you find by sketching it or taking photos.
  • Visit again in different seasons and in following years to look for changes.


rotting log