October 21, 2014

Medina
Showers
47°F

Parkgoers encounter rare woodpecker at Sharon Twp.’s Wolf Creek

Naturalist Clair Bailey speaks about rabbits and hares on Sunday to a crowd of about 20 visitors to Wolf Creek Environmental Center, 6100 Ridge Road, in Sharon Township. (NICK GLUNT / GAZETTE)

Naturalist Clair Bailey speaks about rabbits and hares on Sunday to a crowd of about 20 visitors to Wolf Creek Environmental Center, 6100 Ridge Road, in Sharon Township. (NICK GLUNT / GAZETTE)

Youngsters who showed up at Wolf Creek Environmental Center in Sharon Township on Sunday were hoping to run into some rabbits — but they got to see something even rarer.

A pileated woodpecker was seen drilling at a tree in the woods, surprising visitors and even the naturalist.

A pileated woodpecker drills at a tree branch at Wolf Creek Environmental Center on Sunday afternoon. The woodpecker is a rare sight, naturalist Clair Bailey said. (NICK GLUNT / GAZETTE)

A pileated woodpecker drills at a tree branch at Wolf Creek Environmental Center on Sunday afternoon. The woodpecker is a rare sight, naturalist Clair Bailey said. (NICK GLUNT / GAZETTE)

“We see them maybe two or three times a year, so we’re pretty lucky today,” said naturalist Clair Bailey. “They’re around, but they’re reclusive.”

Scott Butler, one of the visitors, said he hadn’t seen a wild woodpecker in a long time.

“I’ve only ever seen one just one other time,” said Butler, of Brunswick. “And it was by accident then, too.”

Bailey said she was disappointed the group couldn’t see any rabbits, but said nature doesn’t always work well with people.

“Sometimes the animals just don’t want to cooperate,” she said. “One time we had a sparrow lecture and there was just a hawk out there, so no sparrows were to be seen.”

The goal of the walk was to spot a rabbit, which was the subject of a lecture by Bailey prior to the walk.

Bailey said rabbits, hares and pikas — animals native to the Western United States — are “lagomorphs,” a family of animals similar to rodents.

“A lot of people think rabbits are rodents like squirrels or mice because they have those long front teeth,” Bailey said. “But rabbits and hares are in an entirely different family.”

She shared several fun facts about rabbits, including that Ohio rabbits don’t live in holes like storybooks say and that they can swim if necessary to avoid predators.

Bailey said it’s important for people to know about rabbits because it could save the animals’ lives.

“People sometimes think baby rabbits are abandoned if they find a nest and can’t find the mom,” she said. “But mom rabbits only visit the nest twice a day, around dawn and dusk.”

She said if a family comes across a nest, they should wait until either dusk or dawn to see if they can spot the babies’ mother.

“Babies don’t have scents at first,” she said. “So they’re actually safer when the mom isn’t around.”

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com. Follow him on Twitter @ngfalcon.

This week’s Medina County park events

The following is a list of Medina County Park District programs and activities for the remainder of May. All events are free unless otherwise noted. Register at www.medinacountyparks.com. For more information, call (330) 722-9364.

Thursday and Friday
• Tales for Tots, Green Leaf Park, 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. Youngsters can become nature artists and experiment with the colors in nature while hearing stories and going on a rainbow hike. For ages 3 to 6 with an adult companion. Because some or the entire program may be held outdoors, parents are advised to dress their children appropriately. Deadline for registering is Thursday.
Saturday
• Migratory Bird Banding, Wolf Creek Environmental Center, 9 a.m. Bird banding is a scientific research method that studies bird behavior and movements and provides valuable information about avian populations and migratory patterns. The data collected through bird banding is critical to identify contributing factors affecting populations in both winter and summer habitats and the establishment of needed conservation efforts. Participants will join licensed bird banders Gary and Jill Fowler at Wolf Creek to learn more about the significance of bird banding and see how it is done. Bird banding is weather variable and may not be done if it is raining or snowing. Signs will be posted at Wolf Creek if bird banding is occurring and to direct participants to the banding location on the dates listed above. All ages welcome. No registration required.
• PiYo with Lauren, Wolf Creek Environmental Center, 9:15 a.m. Lauren Warner, certified PiYo strength instructor, will conduct this high-energy class. PiYo is a fusion of Pilates and Yoga choreographed to music. It is low impact but high intensity. Participants use their own body to create resistance. People of all ages can take PiYo, and modifications based on skill level and flexibility are offered. Participants are asked to bring water, hand towel, and a sticky mat. For more information, contact Lauren at ulultys@att.net.Ages 16 to adult. Deadline to register is Friday. There is a $5 program fee.

Saturday and Sunday
• Hurray for May!, Susan Hambley Nature Center, noon to 5 p.m. Spring is the perfect time for a chance to get out of the house and explore. There will be new activities and crafts each weekend in the month. All ages welcome. No registration required.

Sunday
• Photographers of the Parks Club Meeting, Krabill Shelter, 3 p.m. This program provides an opportunity for nature photo enthusiasts to share knowledge with like-minded folks, gain special access to programs and events related to photography and support the park district. Both beginner and advanced photographers are invited. The club will emphasize but not be limited to nature photography. No registration required. For more information, contact Shelley at (330) 239.4814 or email stender@medinaco.org. Ages 16 to adult. No registration required.

Plum Creek reopened

The Medina County Park District’s Plum Creek Park in Brunswick Hills Township has been reopened after flood damage from last Monday’s severe storms forced closing the facility.

“The asphalt parking lots are open, and several washed-out footbridges have been put back in place along the hiking trails,” director Tom James said. “Park crews continue to work to restore the site, but some areas need to dry out more before all repairs can be completed.”