Wetlands Festival

Wetlands Flyer 2017 for web

Saturday, April 25, 2020

10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Wildwood Park
100 Wildwood Way | Harrisburg, PA 17110

     Virtual program available online starting April 16!                    

While the Wetlands Festival is canceled for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, don't miss our virtual program filled with activities for the entire family!

Special thanks to WITF and ABC27 for their sponsorship of this year's program!


Activity #1 - We're Going on a Bug Hunt!

A tiny world of life exists beyond your back door. Take the afternoon to go on a bug hunt. They could be hiding anywhere! Some of their favorite spots are under flat rocks, decomposing logs or amongst your garden plants. If you cannot find a container to use to collect with, check your recycling bin. Look for clear plastic containers with lids. Make sure to poke holes in the lid so the bugs can breathe.

Here are some activities to help you journey through a bug’s world. 
Insect Bingo
Insect Scavenger Hunt
Insect Word Search
Observe an Insect

Activity #2 - Design Your Own Art In The Wild Project!
Art In The Wild consists of naturally inspired trailside art installations, that can be viewed May 16th through September 30 around the trails at Wildwood Park. This year’s theme is Woodland Harmony.

Head out to your yard and look for flowers, cones, seeds, sticks or other natural materials to create your own personal-sized mandala. As your creativity sparks, take time to collaborate your efforts with those in your household to make a larger combined mandala.

 A mandala is a circular symbol or geometric configuration. It consists of found objects laid out in a circular, symmetrical pattern. It is thought that mandalas may be used to focus one’s attention and to aid in meditation. This shape also represents the universe or cosmos as a whole which extends beyond one’s own personal body and mind.
Mandala 4   Mandala 1

Post your mandala designs on our Facebook page!

Activity #3 - Discovery Walk
Take a walk or hike close to home. Bring a journal, a pencil and your phone. On your journey, find a flowering plant to observe. Take a photo on your phone and upload it to iNaturalist to learn about the species.

iNaturalistiNaturalist is an app designed to help you identify the plants and animals around you. A community of more than 700,000 scientists work together to help you learn more about nature. By recording and sharing your observations you are participating in Citizen Science. Follow the directions to complete your first observation.

In the journal you brought with you, follow the B.E.E.T.L.E.S lesson plan guide to help you process your new discoveries!

BirdingActivity #4 - Get Outside and Go Birding!
Head out around 7:00 am, grab your binoculars, bird guide, jacket and phone. Download the ebird app and begin logging the species you find in your neighborhood or backyard. Not sure what species you’re looking at, check out Merlin Bird ID through Cornell University and Audubon Bird Guide apps or just use the good old fashion hard copy.

Don’t have binoculars for the whole family. Log in to Pinterest and search for “toilet tube binoculars”. If you don’t tell the kids they aren’t the real thing- they’ll never know!

Activity #5 - Upcycled Crafts
Upcycling is the creative reuse of generally discarded materials such as recyclables, non-recyclables, fabric/materials and natural found objects. A wide variety of craft ideas are available at your fingertips - all you need is a few items from your home recycling bin! Check out Pinterest for ideas. 

Share your ideas and creations on Instagram @DauphinCounty_parksrec. Happy crafting!

Macro PictureActivity #6 - Stream Study
Did you know a tiny world of life exists underwater? On this adventure we will explore the underwater world of macroinvertebrates. Macroinvertebrates are tiny aquatic insects that spend most of their lifecycle underwater breathing with gills. These organisms are big enough to see with the naked eye but small enough to hide from larger predators.

Wildwood Park Naturalists investigated the macroinvertebrates living in Paxton Creek at Wildwood Park. Use the photo shown to the left as well as the resources below to try and identify the macroinvertebrates. 
Key to Macro Picture
Macroinvertebrates Study Guide
Pond and Stream Study Guide

Visit our Facebook page on the afternoon of April 21st to get the correct answers. With the knowledge you just acquired, head out to explore the creek or stream closest to your home!

3 Activity #7 - Earth Day Clean-Up (April 22, 2020)
Participate in the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day by taking a walk in your neighborhood to pick up trash. Be sure to wear gloves and bring garbage bags along with you so you can separate trash from recyclable items. To participate in a global Citizen Science Project, download the Earth Challenge 2020 app to monitor and log the trash found in your area.
Together we all can make the world a cleaner place!

Activity #8 - Evening Star Gazing
This evening the moon is in its New Moon Phase. This is when the moon appears invisible from earth. It happens when the moon’s orbit around earth places it between the sun and the earth. With the absence of the moon’s light, the constellations may appear brighter thus making it a good evening for stargazing.

Download one of these apps to assist in your evening’s exploration. This is a great time to see Venus which will appear in its greatest brilliancy Monday April 27. Jupiter will remain perfectly visible with Mars and Saturn at average visibility. 

Activity #9 - Photo Scavenger Hunt
No one goes outside without a camera anymore, because we always have our phone! Take an evening stroll in your neighborhood or a nearby park to look for signs of wildlife. The Photo Scavenger Hunt showcases magnified photos - we challenge you to find a larger version of what you interpret each magnified photo to be. Share your pictures on our Facebook page be sure to identify which numbered photo you went in search of. The actual images will be revealed on April 25th on our Facebook page.

Activity # 10 - Build an Animal Home
Do you want to increase the wildlife seen in your backyard? Consider building an animal home for amphibians, reptiles, birds, insects or mammals. Below are several easy DIY project ideas. The following examples can be seen in both Wildwood Park and Detweiler Park. What better way to culminate our Celebration of Wetlands than to build a project that will last for years to come!

Vernal PoolVernal Pools
Vernal pools are a unique form of seasonal wetland habitat suitable for amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates and plants. These shallow man-made holes are dug between 2-3 feet deep and range in size from 100-6,000 square feet. Ideal locations include low lying meadow/field and forested areas with impermeable soil types good for water accumulation. They fill each spring by rain and snowmelt, then dry up for a period during the warmer summer. Click here for articles on how to get started: Article 1 | Article 2

Mulch PileMulch Piles
Snapping turtles build their nests in spring and summer, usually beginning around April in our area. Mothers dig their nests in warm, dry regions consisting of forested areas, garden flower beds and even abandoned dirt or mulch piles. Within each nest she will lay typically 20-40 leathery white eggs. Once the eggs are laid, the turtles cover them up and head back to their pond or lake. Warmer nest temperatures produce female turtles and cooler temperatures produce male turtles. Nests are highly vulnerable to predation. Only a small percentage of the eggs reach maturity, which is why the mother lays so many at a time, increasing the odds of survival. Other species of turtles including Eastern Box Turtles and Stinkpots also nest in similar areas.

Snake Cover BoardSnake Cover Boards
Reptiles are ectotherms, meaning they are cold-blooded, and must get ample time in the sun to warm their bodies. Snake Cover Boards are cut corrugated tin pieces placed in flat meadow/fields. This material will create hot, dry conditions in the soil heating up the ground for snakes. In general, it is best to place cover boards in areas in your yard that are relatively undisturbed at safe distances away from roads. It may take several weeks before animals move in-just give it some time. When checking for life under your cover board, take your time pealing the board back from the ground to see what is hiding underneath. 

How to install a cover board


Insect HotelInsect Hotels
Growing native plants in gardens is key in helping native insects to thrive in backyards. But where do these insects go in the winter? An overwintering site is a place that will shield the insect from chilly conditions associated with winter. Among other places, most insects overwinter inside buildings, under tree bark or beneath fallen leaves or plant matter.

Many people have started building their own overwintering sites for insects, called insect hotels. Insect hotels are easy to make and can vary in size. Using natural, untreated wood and other materials is the best way to create your own. You may choose to create your insect hotel for only bees, or for a variety of other insects depending on materials used. Remember to care for and clean your insect hotel to ensure these beneficial bugs will return next season.


Blue Bird BoxBluebird Nest Boxes
All species of bluebird, including the Eastern Bluebird, are cavity nesters. Natural cavities can be hard to find with the removal of old rotting trees, loss of habitat and competition with other native and nonnative species. Placing bluebird nest boxes in open areas in your yard is one way to provide more nesting sites for these birds. Nest boxes should be made out of a non-toxic weather-resistant wood. There are many places where you can find directions or buy a nest box kit to create your own.

How to Build a Bluebird Nest Box
Information on Eastern Bluebirds



Bat BoxBat Boxes
Not many people enjoy mosquitoes, but bats love them! They can eat around 1,000 mosquitoes in one night. This is just one of the many reasons to have bats in or near your backyard. Bats roost in tight, dark spaces, usually between a tree and its bark. With the loss of habitat, a decline of forests and removal of dead trees it is becoming more challenging for bats to find these roosting sites.

In addition, they also serve as a “maternity colony”, a place for bats to raise their young. Bat boxes should be painted a dark color that will increase in temperature throughout the day. Placing the bat box in direct sunlight and having a water source are important factors to keep in mind when determining the best possible location.

How to build a bat house: Article 1 | Article 2