Blair Creek is an excellent spot for hiking and birdwatching.The site provides nesting habitat for migrating birds including cerulean warbler, wood thrush, Northern parula, and magnolia warbler, as well as several accipiters such as Northern goshawk, sharp-shinned hawk, red-shouldered hawk, and broad-winged hawk.
As you enjoy our trails, look for some of Blair Creek preserve’s many interesting natural features:
The shagbark hickory tree, part of the walnut family, can grow up to 100 feet high and 3 feet thick. Its unique bark “peels” when it reaches maturity at 20-30 years, serving as a perfect roosting habitat for Indiana and little brown bats. These beneficial bats provide effective natural control of mosquitoes and other pests.
Black bears scar the trunks of beech trees with their claws when they climb to harvest beechnuts. Clusters of five-claw scars show where a bear’s front paws hugged a tree from the opposite side when climbing up; long vertical slashes are from the bear’s rear claws serving as brakes during the climb down. Bears can tell which trees produce the most nutritious nuts using their sense of smell. They often return to the same tree year after year, bringing their cubs.
The leaves and early spring sap of the black birch tree can be boiled into a sweet syrup or fermented into birch beer. The tree’s bark contains methyl salicylate, commonly called oil of wintergreen (readily apparent by the smell of a broken twig), which was used in the 19th Centurey to flavor chewing gum, gelatins and candies.
The wetlands and flooded trees in the center of the trail system were created by beavers, North America’s largest rodents. Known as nature’s architects, beavers reshape the landscape as they construct their living space, creating and maintaining essential habitat for birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish in the process. The wetlands created by beavers help slow erosion, purify water and lay the groundwork for new meadows and woodlands to take root.