Students at Indian Trail Elementary School will celebrate Arbor Day at an event to plant trees that will form part of the school's new screech owl habitat.

Students at Indian Trail Elementary School will celebrate Arbor Day at an event to plant trees that will form part of the school's new screech owl habitat.

Nearly 30 seedlings will be planted near Little Walnut Creek behind Indian Trail at 1:30 p.m. April 30, said Dick Miller, Canal Winchester's urban forester. The area for the habitat spans about 1,000 square feet, Miller said. The 30 trees are native red seeders, he said.

Planning for the habitat started around January, said Indian Trail principal Bev Downing, who said Miller approached her about setting one up at the school. Miller will supply a nesting box for screech owls that will be mounted on an eight-foot pole set among the seedlings. The box will be adorned with a plaque in memory of James H. Kelley, a foreman for the village's street department who was killed in a house fire on Dec. 1, 2007.

Barbara Ray, director of conservation education at the Ohio Wildlife Center, said eastern screech owls nest in winter, so it could be a season or two before any owls are seen at the habitat, if at all.

"As long as there's the right kind of habitat, they'll come by and nest," she added.

If not, she said, then a family of kestrels or house wrens will make the new nesting box their home. Either way, it's a win-win situation, Ray said.

She said Radar, an eastern screech owl, will also be in attendance at the April 30 planting.

"It'd be great for the kids to see the animal they're trying to attract," Ray said.

She expects the students will enjoy their new avian neighbors.

"Kids get so excited," Ray said. "Any time schools do habitat improvements, kids have a real desire that's innate, some kind of connection with nature."

At least first- and second-grade students will be released from class to take part in the celebration, Downing said.

There will be about 700 students in attendance, Miller said.

"The children will be very excited about it," Downing said.

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com