GENEVA – The wing of a great horned owl lay on a table, all that was left of the raptor after some coyotes – amazingly – got ahold of it.
The wing, owl pellets, a demonstration of how birds' beaks work and an oversized nest big enough to hold human beings were all the attractions Saturday at Peck Farm Park's new "Get Wild!" program.
Nature educator Rana Mills said the two-hour program with stations will be offered every Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. where families can come and experience some hands-on nature activities to do together.
"The coyotes caught him somehow and chewed him up," Mills said. "I can't imagine how they would get an owl that size … somehow they managed to surprise him. I guess the wing's not very meaty so they left that for us."
Tina and Bryan Schertzer of Geneva brought their daughters, Sydney, 10 and Olivia, 7, and a friend, Caitlin Cassidy, 6, along with family visiting from Pennsylvania, Cathy and Steve McConnell, to the program
Sydney, who came prepared with binoculars, said she likes watching red-winged blackbirds.
Steve McConnell said he liked all the open space and nature activities he was seeing while visiting his in-laws.
"It's just a lot of planning and having enough funding from the community to keep things like this going," McConnell said. "It wasn't just this park. I was pretty amazed at how many parks there are in this vicinity. Developments are notorious for leveling the trees and not having anything around. This is unusual for the amount of foresight to have. I appreciate that."
Bryan Schertzer said his taxes were well-spent to preserve and maintain parks like Peck Farm Park.
"The burden of property tax here in the Fox Valley is relatively high," Schertzer said. "But you can visibly see it's being put to good use. We see that in our library system and in our school system and ... the park system is, I think, unparalleled to any of the other areas I've lived. It's something we appreciate as a family and use on a regular basis. It sets a good example for what a park district can do when they have the tax revenue to support it."