Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)—January 29, 2016. As old man winter howls down from the north and blankets Thorn Creek Woods with a layer of snow, the hardy birds and mammals tuck themselves into the nooks of trees and bed down amongst fallen leaves. Hikers wear extra layers of clothes and are eager to make the first human tracks in the snow. Will you be the first to explore the woods after fresh snow has fallen?
At nearly 1000 acres, Thorn Creek Nature Preserve is home to majestic oaks, hickory trees, white-tailed deer, owls, woodpeckers and much more. Be sure to dress for the weather and wear sturdy shoes on your walk.
Thorn Creek Nature Center is nestled at the beginning of a three and half mile trail system that meanders through the Preserve. Housed in a small white wooden church built in the mid-1860’s, the nature center has a new tracks display to help in identifying all the footprints in the snow. And soon the nature center will be filled with materials and exhibits all about birds. Stop in the Nature Center to warm up with for hot chocolate or coffee, watch birds at our viewing window, and view the displays. The nature center is open Friday-Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. and trails are open daily, dawn to dusk.
Thorn Creek’s Junior Ecologists Club offering monthly fun-filled nature activities for young people age 9 to 12 has its next meeting Saturday, February 6 from noon to 3 p.m. They will explore winter animal tracks and create their own animal track replicas. Young people should be prepared to get muddy, dress for the weather, wear boots and long pants. Junior Ecologists Club is a free program and registration is required by Thursday, February 4.
Celebrate our creatures living in Thorn Creek Woods at “Tracking Animals in Winter” on Sunday, February 7, 1-3 p.m. How do these animals survive winter’s chills? What adaptations have they developed to keep warm and find food? We’ll put ourselves in the paws of active woodland creatures and follow the trails in search of tracks and other spoor. We’ll even make plaster replicas of tracks to take home. Participants should be prepared for the cold weather and be able to walk a mile outdoors on natural surface trails across uneven and possibly snow-covered ground. The “Tracking Animals in Winter” program is free and open to all ages, but registration is required by February 5. If weather is inclement this program will still take place inside the Nature Center.
Come to “Thorn Creek’s Great Backyard Bird Count” open house, Saturday, February 13 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for help with all things birds! For basic bird identifications – and tricky ones, too – , choosing binoculars, bird feeding and feeder tips, local bird checklists and more. Birders of all levels are welcome. We have information and crafts and hand outs and activities for beginners and children too. You can make pine cone feeders to take home. Join us for birding hikes at 9 a.m. and at noon. The GBBC is an annual count hosted by Audubon and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Across America and Canada people watch and count birds with the results providing a snapshot of the whereabouts of more than 600 bird species. “When thousands of people all tell us what they’re seeing, we can detect patterns in how birds are faring from year to year,” said Janis Dickinson, director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Anyone can be part of the GBB Count! It’s easy. Just watch and count birds in your backyard or on trail for at least 15 minutes, then report what you saw at www.birdcount.org for the GBBC days. Thorn Creek’s GBBC event is co-sponsored by Thorn Creek Audubon Society, our Partners in Programming.
“Chili Evening Hike” will be held Sunday, February 21, 5-7 p.m. at Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve. Let’s listen, and adjust our eyes, ears and even our walking styles to catch a glimpse of the active life of the nocturnal woods! Learn which of our winter residents are night prowlers. After our chilly stroll, warm up with a mug of homemade Thorn Creek chili; choose among hearth-cozy, midnight wake-up call and barn-burner intensities. A fun evening for the hot-blooded and intrepid. The “Chili Evening Hike” program is for all ages. Fee is $5 and registration is required by Friday, February 19. Come dressed for the weather. Participants should be able to walk 2 miles outdoors on natural surface trails across uneven and possibly snow-covered terrain.
Register now to “Make a Gourd Birdhouse” at a fun family workshop. Join artist and teacher Pat Moore Sunday, March 6 to make a natural style birdhouse from a gourd. There will be two session: 1-2 p.m. and 2:30-3:30 p.m. Program is for all ages and fee is $10 per house. All materials will be provided. Registration is required. This program is co-sponsored by Thorn Creek Audubon Society, our Partners for Programming.
Thorn Creek Nature Woods Nature Preserve is located at 247 Monee Road, Park Forest. For more information or to register for programs, please call 708-747-6320 or email [email protected]. Visit our new website at www.tcwoods.org.
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