Baby eagles hatch a comeback

The first eaglet of 2009 hatched last month in Ashtabula County. It's the latest triumph in a 30-year survival story of America's glorious mascot in Ohio.

Three decades ago, only four nesting pairs of these bad-ass birds lived in the state, mostly along the Lake Erie shoreline. In 2008, 184 pairs produced more than 222 young. And about 206 active eagle territories have been identified so far this year, a state record.

Volunteer eagle watchers will continue to monitor the nests perched throughout Ohio. Young eagles leave home by the time they're 18 to 20 weeks old.

Locally, nests have been spotted beside Hoover Reservoir, along the Scioto River north of the Columbus Zoo and at Big Island Wildlife Area in Marion, said Tom Sheley, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited on Riverside Drive.

Eagles add more material to their nests each year, so look for a giant mess of twigs high in the trees. Sunup and sundown are the best viewing times, Sheley added.

Web: ohiodnr.com

Bikes for charity

Old bikes gathering attic dust or cluttering basements can help the needy and save you some cash during a recycling event that runs through April 19.

Those who bring their used rides into Roll, a full-service bike shop with locations at Easton and Polaris, will get a discount on their purchase of a fancy new ride. Kid bikes will get you $30 off, adult bikes $50 off. Donations benefit the Buckeye Ranch, Ronald McDonald House and Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Web: roll-online.com

Earth works

Thousands of volunteers will staff more than 100 work sites throughout Central Ohio as part of Picture This, a citywide Earth Day campaign receiving support from residents, city officials and local businesses.

Volunteer opportunities on April 18 include picking up trash, constructing compost bins and preparing community gardens. After the environmental stewardship, a celebration of music and green living will run 12-7 p.m. April 19 at Goodale Park in the Short North.

Web: picturethis09.org

Safari on foot

Exotic animals at The Wilds are coming out of hibernation, and so should you. The stunning wildlife preserve in Cumberland, about 15 miles southeast of Zanesville, will host the 12th-annual EcoThon on April 25.

Registration for the run/walk events costs $35. The off-road 10K and 5K courses travel past rolling grasslands, lakes, woodlands and wetlands. Entrants will receive numerous goodies, including a pass for a bus safari - a great way to experience the largest conservation facility in North America.

The Wilds opens to the public May 2.

Web: thewilds.org

Outfitters back-pack it in

Already known as hubs of adventure education, two of the city's best outdoor stores will lead backpacking trips to Ohio hot spots.

Clintonville Outfitters heads to the lovely, hilly Zaleski State Forest in southeastern Ohio April 24-26. It's geared toward beginners and intermediates who can cover about six miles each day.

The Outdoor Source takes to Shawnee State Forest, known as the "little Smokies of Ohio," May 1-3. The trip is for moderate to experienced hikers and costs $30.

Registration is required for both trips.

Web: clintonvilleoutfitters.com

Web: theoutdoorsource.com

Outdoor Tip of the Month

Spring is a great time to hike a new trail. If you're heading into an unfamiliar wilderness area, leave a note on the dashboard of your car listing what trail you're on, when you left, when you expect to return and an emergency contact. In case something happens, this will aid rescue. Thanks to JustNorth.com for the great advice.

For more outdoor adventures and Nature Notes, click to The Riot Act blog at ColumbusAlive.com