Explore the Thorn Creek Nature Center in February

New bridge at the Thorne Creek Nature Center
The new north hiking bridge in Thorn Creek Nature Preserve was completed in December, thanks to a grant from the American Hiking Association, the Capital Fund of Friends of Thorn Creek Woods, donations in memory of the late Joe Hanes, and the work of the Village of Park Forest and Forest Preserve District of Will County crews. (Photo: Dan Moore)

Park Forest, IL -(ENEWSPF)- 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.

Hikers are thrilled that the north bridge over Thorn Creek on the Woodland Trail has been completely rebuilt, thanks to a grant from the American Hiking Association, the Capital Fund of Friends of Thorn Creek Woods, generous donations in memory of the late Joe Hanes, and the work of the Village of Park Forest and Forest Preserve District of Will County crews. The old bridge was built in the summer of 1976 by a Youth Conservation Corps group of young people under direction of David Sheridan with Jan Stark and Steve Lee as program supervisors. That old bridge suffered over the years from repeatedly being struck and damaged by debris carried on flood waters and finally had to be rebuilt.

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.

Visit Thorn Creek Nature Center Saturday, February 18 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. for help with all thing birds! February 17 through 20 is the annual Great Backyard Bird 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.

Come to Thorn Creek Nature Center’s GBBC open house, Saturday, February 18 for help with 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. Information and hand outs and activities for beginners and children too.

Bring the family for an outdoor hiking adventure on snowshoes Monday, February 20 from 1-3 p.m. On the “Snowshoe Safari” we’ll investigate tracks and other signs of animal activity, and maybe encounter some animals during our trek! Please dress for the weather and be prepared to hike in snowy conditions over uneven natural terrain for approximately 2-3 miles. The program will take place regardless of weather conditions. The program is for age 7 and older; the cost is $3 per person. Registration required; please call 708.534.8499.

Thorn Creek Nature Preserve is located at 247 Monee Road, Park Forest. For more information, please call 708-747-6320.