Park Naturalist - Indy Parks and Recreation

Park Naturalist - Indy Parks and Recreation The naturalist staff at Eagle Creek Park Earth Discovery Center in Indianapolis share fun nature facts, as well as info about upcoming park programs.
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With 1400 acres of water and 3900 acres of forest, Eagle Creek Park is one of the largest city parks in the nation, offering unmatched opportunities for exploration, enjoyment, and discovery of nature only minutes from downtown Indianapolis. Eagle Creek Park is part of the City of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Parks and Recreation. The Earth Discovery Center is one of two nature centers in the park, and offers field trips for schools, scouts, and other groups, family programs, teacher trainings, summer daycamps, and more! In addition, the EDC is a great place to stop by and enjoy exhibits containing live, native reptiles, amphibians, and fish, natural history information about native wildlife, displays of insects and plants, a backyard habitat area and seasonal displays, several nearby hiking trails, as well as beautiful deck with a view of Eagle Creek Reservoir. The Eagle Creek Ornithology Center focuses on birds and bird watching, and offers a variety of educational opportunities including live bird of prey programs. Both facilities are free with park admission, and are open 10am-5pm, Monday-Saturday, 1pm-5pm Sunday (closed for most city holidays). Facemasks required.

Mission: Our goal as Eagle Creek Park Naturalists is to put visitors to the park in touch with the amazing diversity of plants and animals native to Indiana and fostering a sense of wonder, enthusiasm, and stewardship for the natural world.

Operating as usual

*Under 2 weeks and counting to register for this Full Moon Hike! 🌑🌕🌑🌕🌑🌕🌑Have you had the opportunity to experience hikin...
01/16/2021

*Under 2 weeks and counting to register for this Full Moon Hike!

🌑🌕🌑🌕🌑🌕🌑
Have you had the opportunity to experience hiking Eagle Creek Park after nightfall? If not, THIS hike is for you!
Take a glimpse with this rare hiking opportunity celebrating and learning about the lore of the full moon.

Join us on January 29th at 7:30pm for the first installment of the Full Moon Reservoir Hike Series, and let's see what adventures we can find! We will start at the Earth Discovery Center, and this easy hiking path will last approximately 1 hour. Participants must exit the park directly following the completion of the hike.

Registration is required- $5 per person, ages 8+.
Visit www.indyparks.org and enter course #25391

Space is limited. Masks are an absolute must, please. Families and groups will be encouraged to stay 6 feet from other families and groups during the hike. Flashlights are encouraged, but please cover the white light with red or green cellophane to aid in night vision.
Dogs are permitted as long as pets are on a leash under 6 feet, attached to owner at all times.
This hike will take place completely outside. Please consider the upcoming weather conditions and dress appropriately, including footwear (think possible icy paths). Restrooms inside of the Earth Discovery Center will be available for a very brief period directly following the end of the hike.

If you have any questions about this hike, please email:
[email protected] (responds typically on weekends, so please be patient and I'll be happy to address your questions)!

🦊 ☀️ The sun came out for Story Time this morning! We read “I’ll Always Be Your Friend” by Sam McBratney. This title is ...
01/13/2021

🦊 ☀️ The sun came out for Story Time this morning! We read “I’ll Always Be Your Friend” by Sam McBratney. This title is available through the Indianapolis Public Library and is a fictional story about a young fox starting to test its independence and the love shared between a mother and kit.

You can set up some of the activities we did at home. In the book, the fox played a variety of different games and we created our own versions with a few simple supplies. We used black images of foxes to build a jump-over-my-shadow game, hoops to create a sneak-up-and-pounce game, and nothing to play a stand-completely-still game (stand still until you count to a certain number). There was also a running game, but there are so many options for running games.

The illustrations in the book are beautiful so children had the opportunity to practice using colored pencils on plain white paper. The search for nature items to sort into piles of big things and piles of little things led to a lot of impromptu discoveries and nature play. There was also “If Your’re a Fox and You Know It” to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” You can make up what the fox does and act it out - jump and pounce, show your teeth, clap your paws, etc. The last activity takes some more time to create, but we cut the pieces of a fox out of felt and had each piece assigned to a number on the die. As you rolled a number, you added that piece to your fox background until your fox was complete.

The next January Story Time is sold out, but the February ones are currently up at indyparks.org for registration. More information about each session is available on the event’s page. Let us know if you have any questions and hopefully we will see you at a park program soon!

Have you had the opportunity to experience hiking Eagle Creek Park after nightfall? If not, THIS hike is for you!Take a ...
01/10/2021

Have you had the opportunity to experience hiking Eagle Creek Park after nightfall? If not, THIS hike is for you!
Take a glimpse with this rare hiking opportunity celebrating and learning about the lore of the full moon.

Join us on January 29th at 7:30pm for the first installment of the Full Moon Reservoir Hike Series, and let's see what adventures we can find! We will start at the Earth Discovery Center, and this easy hiking path will last approximately 1 hour. Participants must exit the park directly following the completion of the hike.

Registration is required- $5 per person, ages 8+.
Visit www.indyparks.org and enter course #25391

Space is limited. Masks are an absolute must, please. Families and groups will be encouraged to stay 6 feet from other families and groups during the hike. Flashlights are encouraged, but please cover the white light with red or green cellophane to aid in night vision.
Dogs are permitted as long as pets are on a leash under 6 feet, attached to owner at all times.
This hike will take place completely outside. Please consider the upcoming weather conditions and dress appropriately, including footwear (think possible icy paths). Restrooms inside of the Earth Discovery Center will be available for a very brief period directly following the end of the hike.

If you have any questions about this hike, please email:
[email protected] (responds typically on weekends, so please be patient and I'll be happy to address your questions)!

One of the best ways to help wildlife is by increasing the number of native plants in the landscape.  Native plants are ...
01/08/2021
Start Your Own Natives Webinar and Q&A Summary

One of the best ways to help wildlife is by increasing the number of native plants in the landscape. Native plants are becoming more popular and available at big box plant nurseries as demand grows, but they can still be hard to find, and planting larger areas in natives can be expensive. One great way to add natives to your landscape is by growing them yourself!

Recently the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District hosted a webinar with Kevin Tungesvick, Senior Ecologist with Eco Logic about species selection, seed treatment, and the basics of how to start propagating native plants, and have posted it online: https://marionswcd.org/start-your-own-natives-webinar-and-qa-summary/

We'll have native seed packets available at the Earth Discovery Center in spring (right now the seeds are busy cold stratifying for good germination), and mark your calendars for Wildflower Weekend April 17 & 18 for more chances to learn about our native Indiana plants.

- Are you a market farmer looking to expand your offerings by adding native plants for sale? - Are you a backyard grower who wants to add wildflowers to your garden and landscaping? - Are you a small farmer looking to add perennial plants to help attract beneficial insects? Check out this webinar an...

Sometimes dipping a toe in the water is all you need to relax. 📷 Gray treefrog relaxing poolside in the Earth Discovery ...
01/05/2021

Sometimes dipping a toe in the water is all you need to relax.

📷 Gray treefrog relaxing poolside in the Earth Discovery Center.

The Earth Discovery Center is now open weekends. Our new hours and amenity availability is outlined below.
01/03/2021

The Earth Discovery Center is now open weekends. Our new hours and amenity availability is outlined below.

As we usher in an exciting and fresh new year, please allow us to introduce you to January's Artist of the Month at the ...
01/02/2021

As we usher in an exciting and fresh new year, please allow us to introduce you to January's Artist of the Month at the Earth Discovery Center- Kylin Brown!

A self-described muralist and mother of two, Kylin is showcasing roughly 15 nature-inspired art pieces throughout our building. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to highlight Kylin this month, and hope that you'll join us in viewing her work.

All of Kylin's work is available for purchase, with 15% going toward the Eagle Creek Park Foundation.

To view more, visit: www.kylinbrown.com

Hope to see you soon!

The Second Day Hike is at 1:30pm today! If you have not yet registered, you can sign up until 1:00pm. The hike is free w...
01/02/2021

The Second Day Hike is at 1:30pm today! If you have not yet registered, you can sign up until 1:00pm. The hike is free with park admission, but registration is required to make sure we are following Marion County health orders. https://apm.activecommunities.com/indyparks/Activity_Search/nature-second-day-hike-eagle-creek/19247

Here are the things you need to know to plan for today's hike:
🥾Proper footwear is needed. The trails are in decent shape today, but yesterday's rain has left a few muddy and/or slippery spots. Tennis shoes are not recommended.
🚰🚻 There are no restrooms or drinking fountains available along the hike. Please bring your own water. The Earth Discovery Center is closed today, but we will open the building at 1:15pm so that registered hikers can use the restroom before the hike begins. We can open the building briefly when we return as well.
🐕Dogs are welcome to join the hike as long as park rules are followed. This includes the owner being connected to the dog with a leash that is no more than 6 ft. in length and the owner picks up after the dog. Dogs are not allowed inside the nature center.
😷 COVID safety precautions will be followed during the hike. Hikers must wear a mask and maintain 6ft. distance with other parties along the hike. The halfway point is Lilly Lake where there is a lot of grass to safely spread out. We will pause for a mask break in this area for anyone who feels as though they need one.
🏋️‍♀️This is a fitness hike. The hike is approximately 2.5 miles. We will hike up and down some hills and stairs. You should get in 8,000-9,000 steps along the way.

We look forward to hiking with you today and helping you reach those New Year's goals of being more active and spending more time outdoors!

New snow, who dis? Freshly fallen snow provides the opportunity to see who is living in the area without actually seeing...
12/31/2020

New snow, who dis?

Freshly fallen snow provides the opportunity to see who is living in the area without actually seeing the animal itself. Can you tell who left these tracks?

A Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) left these tracks. The track on the top of each track set is the front foot. The hind foot is positioned slightly behind and to the side of the front foot in each set. The hind feet have an opposable digit, called a “hallux,” that can be prominently seen in the images. The hallux lacks claws, but helps make opossums excellent climbers.

Hiking with a field guide, like The Peterson Field Guide on Animal Tracks, is a great way to practice your tracking skills.

📷 opossum tracks found near the Earth Discovery Center 12/31/20, Peterson’s Field Guide, and the front feet of an education ambassador opossum.

Restrooms are available at the Marina when the Earth Discovery Center is closed. The nature center will reopen at 10am o...
12/30/2020

Restrooms are available at the Marina when the Earth Discovery Center is closed. The nature center will reopen at 10am on Monday, January 4.

The Books and Boots participants who braved the rain were given another great wildlife experience today! While we were l...
12/30/2020

The Books and Boots participants who braved the rain were given another great wildlife experience today! While we were looking for signs that animals in the park were prepping for winter, we saw one red fox run by and then a second one was chasing after it and not far behind.

So what do fox do in the winter? Exactly what you see in the images below. Their coat thickens to protect them from the cold and they use their keen sense of hearing to listen for the rustling of small mammals in beds of leaves or thick snow. When they hear food, they make a quick leap and take a chilly nosedive to catch their meal!

📷The two fox today were too quick to take photos of, but we hope you enjoy these free images from Pixabay.

“When Winter Comes” by Nancy Van Laan was the final Story Time for 2020. Some of the activities you can do on your own w...
12/29/2020

“When Winter Comes” by Nancy Van Laan was the final Story Time for 2020. Some of the activities you can do on your own will be posted in the comments as well as described here.

In the photos, the children are playing a simple game for winter migration. Using a large foam die to determine how far they moved forward, they continued through the hula hoop course until reaching their destination- “south.” You could replicate this game at home using any die or drawing numbered playing cards for your counters. If you don’t have enough hoops, use a combination of items you have access to or use the squares on the sidewalk in your neighborhood.

The photos also show the snowflake focus frames being put to use. Cutting out a shape in paperboard or cardboard allows an individual to really notice and study the items inside the frame. You can make one at home to use outdoors and see what winter looks like where you live.

Thank you for another great year! We will continue with this format in the beginning of 2021, but plan to return to hands-on stations when it’s safe to do so.

Restrooms are available at the Marina during this time.
12/23/2020

Restrooms are available at the Marina during this time.

Eagle Creek Park hosted the First Annual Lilly Lake Lantern Walk on December 20, 2020. Luminarias lit up part of the tra...
12/22/2020

Eagle Creek Park hosted the First Annual Lilly Lake Lantern Walk on December 20, 2020. Luminarias lit up part of the trail around Lilly Lake and participants carried homemade lanterns that each had their own personalities. We loved seeing all of them! Click through the album to see some of the highlights of the night. The 2021 date is TBD, but we hope to see you next year!

12/21/2020
Vole eating sunflower seeds

We got a fun look at our little overwintering vole this afternoon as he came out to munch on sunflower seeds! Voles are rodents and look like little brown hamsters, or a mouse with a short tail (shrews also look like a mouse with a short tail, but they have very tiny eyes, and are not related to rodents at all). Their burrows aerate the soil, disperse nutrients, and create shelter for other small animals. Although our vole is not often active and visible in the daytime, it's still fun to see all the burrows he's created in his enclosure. Voles are also tasty snacks for predators like hawks, owls, foxes, and coyotes, and are a vital part of many ecosystems. In gardens and agricultural areas voles are sometimes considered pests, where they feed on seeds and plant roots, and can damage young tree plantings.

There are three species of voles in Indiana: Meadow, prairie, and woodland. Our vole is either a prairie vole or a meadow vole - they look very similar, but they have very different social behaviors! Prairie voles form pair bonds, and the females and males raise the young together, while meadow voles do not. By studying and comparing these two species, scientists hope to find insights into human social behaviors:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-prince-evolution/201207/vole-brains-and-why-you-should-care-about-them

Today is the final day for the Celebration of Nature at the Earth Discovery Center! Most artwork is for sale, with 15% g...
12/18/2020

Today is the final day for the Celebration of Nature at the Earth Discovery Center!

Most artwork is for sale, with 15% going to the Eagle Creek Park Foundation.
A huge thanks to all of the artists who have participated, Altum's Nursery for the decor, Sage's Garden Club for their volunteer work, the ECP Foundation, and to all of our amazing visitors!

Please come visit us anytime from 10am-5pm!

*Free with park admission.

Park Naturalist - Indy Parks and Recreation's cover photo
12/17/2020

Park Naturalist - Indy Parks and Recreation's cover photo

Virtual school has increased screen time for lots of children so it's time for a nature break! Spaces are available for ...
12/16/2020

Virtual school has increased screen time for lots of children so it's time for a nature break! Spaces are available for both Books and Boots winter sessions. Sign up your 5-9 year old today and enjoy a winter exploration day in the park! This program is free with park admission, but preregistration is required. Register at indyparks.org using course code #24398 for the Tuesday, December 22 session and course code #24400 for the Wednesday, December 30 session. Both sessions are from 10am-11:30am.

Weather announcement: If the wind chill is above 30 degrees, this program will take place entirely outdoors. We will meet at the EDC shelter to read the book while socially distanced and then hit the trails to see if we can find signs of how animals are prepping for winter. If the wind chill is between 10-29 degrees, we will meet indoors briefly to read the book (while socially distanced) and then spend the rest of the time outside. Dress for the weather.

A day of frosty finds during a mid-December Story Time. We read “Glacier Kid” by Buck Douglas. This book does not seem t...
12/15/2020

A day of frosty finds during a mid-December Story Time. We read “Glacier Kid” by Buck Douglas. This book does not seem to be readily available in stores or libraries, but you are welcome to come to the nature center and borrow it for an indoor or outdoor read in the park. Some of the activities you can do on your own will be listed in the comments. Exploring the park and pretending to be other animals led to a lot of cool discoveries and some fun ice cracking.

Our next Story Time is scheduled for December 29 at 10am. You can register at indyparks.gov with course code #25234. This program is free with park admission, but preregistration is required.

Special hours for the annual Celebration of Nature art exhibition continue today at the Earth Discovery Center.We'll be ...
12/13/2020

Special hours for the annual Celebration of Nature art exhibition continue today at the Earth Discovery Center.

We'll be here from 1pm-5pm (Sunday)! Stop in, say hello to our animals, and take a look at some stunning local nature art!

*Free with park admission.
*15% of sales help the Eagle Creek Park Foundation!

Happy Saturday! What better way to celebrate this rainy, cloudy, and chilly Saturday than to cuddle up on the couch with...
12/12/2020

Happy Saturday!
What better way to celebrate this rainy, cloudy, and chilly Saturday than to cuddle up on the couch with a hot cup of coffee and learn a bit about the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach!

The Earth Discovery Center will be open both Saturday and Sunday from 1pm-5pm for our annual Celebration of Nature art e...
12/12/2020

The Earth Discovery Center will be open both Saturday and Sunday from 1pm-5pm for our annual Celebration of Nature art exhibition!

Come discover this exciting nature collection from local artists. Who knows, you may find something that would look amazing above the couch, or would brighten up that kitchen space!

Here are a few items you'll see in the exhibition. We hope to see you this weekend!

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5901 Delong Rd
Indianapolis, IN
46254

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I love the level of enthusiasm and encouragement to enjoy nature on this page! It’s something I missed during lockdown, but in that time, I discovered that nature documentaries really enhanced both that longing to explore nature and my appreciation of different aspects than normal. The documentary More Than Honey, which is about bees and their significance as pollinators, really inspired me to consider gardening more. I found the documentary on demand on Film Festival Flix, which has been my go-to site for entertainment since quarantine. I was pleasantly surprised by their vast collections of award-winning films and their level of organization catering to individual interests. It’s super easy to find good films to watch, so if you’re looking for something unique, fun, or interesting to watch, I’d say this site’s a great place to start. There’s more nature films on there I have yet to watch, so let me know what you think or would recommend!
Red Fox seen at the beach parking lot 10-21-18
bath time
Eagle Creek is a good birding woods.
PLEASE Identify this bird, was seen around the Ice Skating pond with another and they were making a LOT of NOISE!!! Thanks for your time. I know it is not the best picture but they were fast!!!!!!
Found on my porch this morning!
We saw this snake outside the Ornithology Center today. Do you know what kind it is?