GUILFORD TWP. — A rainy and gray Sunday morning did not dissuade bird watchers and hikers from visiting River Styx Park in the afternoon to look and listen for migratory songbirds.
About 60 hikers gathered around Medina County Park District naturalist Natalie Moore and her truck as she explained what hikers would be looking for during the
0.9-mile trek, part of the park district’s Natural Discoveries Hiking Series.
“Today we are focusing on songbirds, so we are looking for these tiny little neo-tropical migrants coming up from Central and South America where they spend their winters,” Moore said. “Some of them we’re lucky enough to have bred here; some of them keep moving up through here all the way to Canada.”
As the hikers moved into the forested area of the park, Moore told the group that by listening closely, it is possible to tell what forest level a bird is on.
Moore explained it is the mid to late part of the migration season, and the birds that are in the park will be higher up in the trees.
“You’re going to have to look for movement, and that movement is pretty tiny,” she said.
Moore pointed out the call of a hooded warbler, and said it is one of the migrating birds that will nest in the park.
“We actually have them nesting in this area the last couple of years, so it is neat to know they are back,” she said. “They are still finding the resources they need in our park.”
Anita Arnold, of Medina, and Mary Jo Waeltz, of Brunswick, said they both recently retired and have been participating in park district hikes.
“We enjoy nature, plus we are signed for their one program that if you do (a certain) number of the nature hikes they have listed, you earn, for example, a badge or a walking stick,” Arnold said.
Mark McMillan, of Medina, said the hiking programs provide a great opportunity to spend some quality time with his daughter, Shannon.
“It is just a way to get motivated, to get out, following the hiking series,” he said.
As hikers walked out of the forested area and into a more open space with grass and shrubs, Moore pointed out a tree containing a cluster of yellow warblers to the left, and another tree off to the right with what looked to be a red-tailed hawk perched on a branch.
Moore said the area of the park where the forest meets the field provides a nice mix of habitats for migratory birds.
“Some birds are forest specific, but you also have this field-scrub area with some small to mid-size trees, so most warblers prefer one of these two habitats. That kind of goes for all of our migratory songbirds,” she said.
Moore said the 88-acre park has been known for its variety of birds since its opening more than two decades ago.
“When the park opened in 1996, they did a huge bird survey and found a whole bunch of species of breeding birds that were actually nesting here,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons we have an interest in leading bird hikes here.”