What you'll see during your walk in the park depends on whether you're in a meadow, woods or a wetland.

What you'll see during your walk in the park depends on whether you're in a meadow, woods or a wetland.

Depending on the Preservation Park being visited, you are likely to see and hear woodpeckers or blue-winged teal, coyotes or deer, owls or pheasants.

What you see also depends on whether the park is near, or connected to, other natural areas.

While walking in Emily Traphagen Preserve or Char-Mar Ridge Preserve, you'll sometimes see a great blue heron or a kingfisher on the ponds. Or you might see a raft of wood ducks or a pair of migrating blue-winged teal.

When you see those birds, say, "Thank You!" to O'Shaughnessy and Hoover reservoirs.

Those larger bodies of water, which are very close to the Traphagen and Char-Mar preserves, attract species of waterfowl that need more space to nest and raise young than can be found in our parks alone.

Our parks help birds, as well.

When the reservoirs get busy with boats and other activities, reproducing birds -- such as wood ducks -- can move over to Preservation Parks' ponds. Chris Roshon, our natural resources technician, believes that without a place to seek refuge, the birds that nest along the reservoirs would not stay around as long as they do.

In Delaware County, we are lucky to have four reservoirs located entirely or partially within county boundaries, two state parks, a wildlife area along Delaware Lake, protected waterways such as the Olentangy River, township and municipal parks, undeveloped open space and riparian areas along creeks and rivers.

Taken together, these resources, plus Preservation Parks, create a natural-areas network that effectively expands habitats and helps birds and other wildlife thrive.

On the flip side of expanding habitats are those that are shrinking. Roshon said that today, habitat loss is the greatest threat to most wildlife species and a factor that affects wildlife diversity.

Deforestation and urbanization obviously take a toll, but habitat also becomes lost to wildlife if they can't get to it. That happens when a natural area is isolated and too far away from similar habitat for animals to easily move back and forth.

Deer, coyotes and other animals that have large home ranges. In Delaware County, they can find plenty of fence rows with protective foliage.

But many smaller mammals, insects, amphibians and reptiles have smaller home ranges and get stuck in the pocket habitats because they can't move between areas.

A high-quality habitat, even if it is small, will support a wildlife population for a while. But for a rabbit or pheasant in a small field, there's nowhere to go when a coyote comes sniffing around.

At Preservation Parks, we're pleased that the natural areas we have protected are part of a countywide network of habitats that support birds and other wildlife.

As you go for a walk in the park, perhaps during one of our "Hound Hikes" or "Birding 101" sessions, keep your eyes open for wildlife you might not see if it weren't for that wonderful network.

For information about our parks and locations, programs and events, please visit www.preservationparks.com.

Sue Hagan is public relations specialist for Preservation Parks of Delaware County.

Sue Hagan