During holiday break ‘unwrap the gifts of nature,’ says parks commissioner

Free city activities include hikes, bird-watching, craft-making and scavenger hunts.

If your holiday schedule reads like this: Wrap presents, unwrap presents, sit and eat — you’re going to need some time outdoors.

There is plenty to explore in parks across all five boroughs, whether you are game for a brisk walk, hike, bird-watching or other activities.

The city Parks Department has a number of free events this week, as well as a nature program designed for young students on their winter break, which runs through Jan. 1.

“The excitement of the holiday season does not have to end when the gifts are all unwrapped,” Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said in a statement. “We urge kids to unwrap the gifts of nature … during the winter break, students have an opportunity to learn fun and exciting skills unlike anything they experience in their regular classrooms.”

Some of those Urban Park Rangers programs include a primer on wildlife survival skills at the Salt Marsh Nature Center in Marine Park and a winter scavenger hunt at Conference House Park in Staten Island. Because hawks and other birds of prey are right at home in the city, rangers will also show kids how to look for an active bird’s nest at the Crotona Nature Center in the Bronx.

Kids can also follow rangers on a winter hike in Central Park to search for signs of wildlife, identify its many trees or stay warm at the Forest Park Visitor Center and make crafts inspired by nature by using materials found in the park.

In addition, guides from the Central Park Conservancy are planning several tours focused on iconic views of the park throughout the week.

For more information go to www.nycgovparks.org, then click “Events.”

Lisa L. Colangelo