Searching the ground for animal tracks is a great way to learn about our local mammals. According to the Purdue Agriculture Extension, some of the most common tracks you will find include those of foxes, raccoons, deer, coyotes and smaller animals like squirrels, moles and mice. Their Nature of Teaching cards can help you better identify tracks and learn more about the animals who made them.
Bird or Nest
As you go on your nature scavenger hunt, look up and listen. Birds are all around us! The state bird of Indiana is a cardinal, and it’s also the most common bird that you’ll find locally. Other common birds you’ll find in Indiana are robins, mourning doves and blue jays. If you’re lucky enough to find a bird’s nest, make sure not to touch it or disturb any eggs.
If you can’t find a bird or its nest, you may be able to find a feather. You can often find feathers near water, so you might try looking around Brandywine Creek, which runs through a few of our local parks. If you’d like to identify the type of feather you’ve found, try using the Feather Atlas from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Indiana state flower is a peony, a perennial plant that can grow up to several feet high, with blooms usually opening in May. Can you find a peony or another colorful plant growing in the wild? If you do see a beautiful flower on your nature scavenger hunt, we recommend taking a photo instead of picking it, so that others can enjoy its beauty after you.
Look for a four-legged Greenfield resident as you go on your nature walk. You’re probably most likely to find a dog Rover’s Run Bark Park, Greenfield’s first dog park located in Beckenholdt Park. If you want to approach a dog you don’t know, always be sure to ask the owner first, and let the dog smell your hand before petting it.
Greenfield Historical Markers
Although not a part of nature, Greenfield Historical Markers are a great way to learn more about our community. Located along Pennsy Trail, in areas downtown and throughout some of our local parks, you can identify stories from the past with these helpful markers. And even more historical and cultural markers are in the works as a part of the city’s downtown revitalization plan.
If you find a leaf on your nature walk, try to identify the type of tree that it came from with help from the Arbor Day Foundation. The official state tree of Indiana is the tulip tree, but some of the most common trees you’ll find here are sugar maples, yellow poplars and white oaks. Is your leaf in perfect condition, or was it a snack for a bug or animal? You can also try to identify the type of bugs eating holes in a leaf by the shape they leave behind.
Where to go on your nature scavenger hunt?
Hancock County is home to numerous public parks and green spaces that we recommend for taking your family on a nature walk and scavenger hunt. Here’s a quick list of our local parks, plus details on the new Depot Street Park opening downtown later this year: