From November 17th through December 6th, the Earth Discovery Center is a drop off location for the US Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots program. Donate new, unwrapped toys and help make a brighter holiday season for over 30,000 needy children in Central Indiana!
Leaf collecting for school projects is allowed in Eagle Creek Park - please try to collect leaves that have already fallen, or carefully take one or two from the tree without damaging the branches. We have several labeled trees in the park at the Earth Discovery Center and the Ornithology Center - maps are available at both centers, or they can also be downloaded from the Eagle Creek Nature page: click here to go to the Tree section
Class selections for the 6th Fall Homeschool Jamboree (November 5th, 2010) are now available! Sign up begins Monday, September 20th - click here for more information.
Update 9/27/10 - The Fall Homeschool Jamboree is full. Information for the Spring Jamboree will be posted in January/February of 2011.
Images of Nature begins this Saturday, September 18th through the following weekend, ending on Sunday, September 26th at the Earth Discovery Center. Don't miss this chance to view some stunning nature photography! Much of the artwork is also for sale. Exhibit hours are Monday-Saturday, 9-5, Sunday 1-5, (1-4 on the 26th). Free with park admission.
No butterfly garden is complete without milkweed, the host plant of the monarch caterpillar as well as a wonderful nectar source for many other species of butterfly. Milkweed isn't always easy to find at the local plant nursery, but we have milkweed seeds and seedlings available at the Earth Discovery Center while supplies last. (Suggested donation of $1/plant or seed packet). Species currently available include tropical milkweed, swamp milkweed, and common milkweed, and other butterfly/prairie plants may be available as well!
We will be unlocking the soccer fields at Eagle's Crest this year the night of August 12, 10pm-12pm, to provide a wide, open view of the night sky for watching the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. Click here for directions and more information.
It's been three years since wildflower/prairie seed mixes were planted around the borders of the Earth Discovery Center grounds, and the plants are now large enough to flower. Hordes of swallowtail butterflies have discovered the flowers, along with hummingbird moths and the occasional Monarch butterfly. The patch of wild bee balm behind the service drive has been particularly popular - in order of appearance we have spicebush swallowtail, tiger swallowtail, and hummingbird moth:
Entry information is now available for the "Images of Nature" Photography Contest - click here for more information. The photos will be on display at the Earth Discovery Center from September 18-September 26; exhibit is free with regular park admission.
If you are out and about in Eagle Creek Park and are curious as to what birds have been seen recently in the park, be sure to stop by the Ornithology Center and check out the giant bird checklist! The checklist is located on the outside wall of the building, near the wooden observation deck.
The park has received its first reports of fawns being spotted in the park! It is not unusual to find a tiny fawn, all by itself with no mother in sight, curled up close to one of the park shelters or buildings:
Have no fear, the fawn is not an orphan! This is perfectly normal fawn behavior for their first week or so of life. Fawns are born with almost no scent - as long as they hold still, they are almost invisible to predators like coyotes and dogs. The mother stays away as much as possible to avoid attracting attention to her baby. She'll come when everything seems quiet to feed and tend the fawn.
If a fawn has accidentally been "rescued" by well-meaning humans, it should be returned to where it was found. Human scent will not cause the mother to abandon her baby, but it can make the fawn more noticeable to predators, so handling the fawn should be avoided in the first place if possible. Fawns that are picked up by humans often "collapse" when placed on the ground, and refuse to stand - this is also normal behavior and does not mean that the fawn has a broken leg, etc.
If you are lucky enough to spot a young fawn pretending to be a patch of sunshine on the forest floor, enjoy from a distance and then leave it alone. The fawn knows exactly what it's doing!
The bee population in our observation beehive at the Earth Discovery Center crashed in February, and we weren't the only ones - beekeepers all over Indiana had their colonies die out over the winter. With the help of Rob Green of the Indiana Beekeeping School (www.indianabeekeepingschool.com) a brand new bee colony has been installed into our hive:
The bees have moved in and seem quite happy in their new home - stop by the Earth Discovery Center and check them out!
If you stop by the EDC, you might notice some new, snazzy signs next to some of the trees near the center, and labels on many of the trees along the trails:
Many thanks to park volunteer John Thieme for spearheading the effort to develop an educational tree trail, sure to be a valuable learning tool for thousands of school groups, volunteers, and park visitors for many years to come. John not only identified and mapped the locations of the trees, he did much of the footwork in ordering the labels, built, stained and sealed the sign holders, and installed the first several signs. There are nearly 20 signs up already, and we hope to eventually have at least 30+ trees labelled. Thanks also to volunteer Michael White for helping us gather natural history information about each tree - in the next few months we will be developing maps, fliers, and a spot on this website for visitors to learn all about trees!
Eagle Creek Volunteer gardeners, park visitors, and students from Pike High School spent the last week of April pulling invasive garlic mustard from areas all over the park, providing a valuable ecological service to the park. Garlic mustard is a plant that was introduced from Europe and Asia, and because it has few natural controls in North America and can produce hundreds of seeds, it can take over large swaths of habitat in a very short period of time.
We were dismayed to find garlic mustard invading around the Ornithology Center in the last few years, as it is an area with an abundance of beautiful wildflowers. Dense stands of garlic mustard could even be seen from Eagle Creek Parkway, growing beneath the row of Norway spruce trees that line the road.
The garlic mustard around the Ornithology Center was no match for 104 industrious Pike High School students, however! Check out the HUGE GARBAGE BAGS full of garlic mustard - and that's only a small portion of what they were able to remove!
Many many thanks to everyone who helped organize removal events and helped remove garlic mustard from the park - it looks great!
If you missed the public volunteer events, have no fear! You have another opportunity to help pull garlic mustard this Saturday, May 22 from 9am-12pm at the Eagle's Crest Nature Preserve, on the west side of Eagle Creek Reservoir. Volunteers can meet at the Eagle's Crest rental facility at 7201 Fishback Rd. for instructions - please call 327-7148 if you would like to volunteer so we can give the organizers a head count on how many folks to expect.
If you've been paying attention to the news, you may have heard that zebra mussels have been found in Geist Reservoir, the first record in Indianapolis area, although they have been found in the Great Lakes and northern Indiana for several years. This is not good news, as the invasive, non-native zebra mussels outcompete the native clam species (already a group with many endangered and threatened species), and reproduce so quickly they clog intake pipes and disrupt the entire aquatic food chain. Zebra mussels have not been found in Eagle Creek Reservoir, yet, but it may only be a matter of time. Once they are here, there is really no practical way to remove them. To help prevent their spread, check boats carefully when moving between lakes and reservoirs, and power wash the hulls if possible.
Click here to learn more about zebra mussels and their identification. Another common clam species found in Eagle Creek Reservoir and Lilly Lake is the Asiatic clam. It is also an invasive species that has been here for many years. Their effects are not as devastating as the zebra mussel, but Asiatic clams can still have a negative impact on the ecosystem. Click here to learn more about Asiatic clams.
Because so many species are threatened or endangered, native clams are protected in the state of Indiana - it is illegal to collect native clams or their shells without a special permit from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. If you find a clam shell that is not a zebra mussel or an Asiatic clam, you should leave it where it is, and never disturb living clams. Click here to see a list of Indiana clams, or freshwater mussels as they are also called. Did you know that there are more species of freshwater mussels found in eastern North America than anywhere else in the world? Our native clams are not as showy as Bald Eagles or as cuddly as River Otters, but they are still important parts of the ecosystem and deserving of protection (and also, how can you not love organisms with names like Purple Wartyback, Fat Pocketbook, and Monkeyface?)
The position of Senior Park Manager for Eagle Creek Park has been posted on the City of Indianapolis job site. Click here to go to the indy.gov website for more information.
by Don Rothenberger, ECP Volunteer Gardener:
The Marion County Master Gardening Association announced that the Eagle Creek Park Volunteer Gardeners worked a total of 1,085 hours in the Park last year. This was the second highest number of gardening hours logged at any single location monitored by the Association, second only to the Indianapolis Museum of Art which had 1,626 hours reported. This year we're striving to be NUMBER ONE! As a comparison, Master Gardeners worked 435 hours at Holliday Park, and 670 hours at White River Gardens. Thanks and congratulations to all the Master Gardeners and Voluneeters who help make Eagle Creek the beautiful park we love and enjoy!
Recent warm temperatures have awakened the chorus frogs and spring peepers, who sing from almost all of the marshy wet ponds and ditches in the park when temperatures are warm enough. They're very hard to see however - check it out on the Eagle Creek Video page! (click on "Chorus Frogs Singing")
Due to some extremely hungry and persistent raccoons, the educational Red-tailed Hawk who is on permanent display at the Ornithology Center is being moved inside at night to ensure her safety. She suffered a permanent wing injury in 1989 and has lived at Eagle Creek Park, educating thousands of visitors about Indiana's birds of prey, ever since.
Don't be alarmed if you noticed some machinery and freshly dug ground along the hillside just south of Fisherman's Cove (the really sharp curve in the road as you drive through the park along Eagle Creek Parkway). A new trail is being installed to provide a safer way for hikers to navigate this area, rather than having to leave the trails and hike along this tricky section of roadway.
We are pleased to welcome Bradly Shoger as the newest environmental education staff member at Eagle Creek Park! Bradly will be based mainly at the Ornithology Center, where he will conduct educational programming for folks of all ages, help implement bird-related monitoring and research in the park, and assist with the many tasks involved with the day-to-day running of the OC.
Brad is an Indianapolis native, with a major in Environmental Management from IU, and an MS in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. His thesis research was on wildlife use of created spoil islands in Lake Tohopekaliga. He has worked for the Nature Conservancy in Idaho, and spent several years in Florida working with wading birds in the Everglades, central Florida combating invasive plants, and throughout the state participating in research on birds, herps, small mammals, and plants.
Be sure to stop by and welcome Brad to the park!
We are pleased to annouce that the Ornithology Center is now open Tuesday-Sunday, 9am-5pm, closed Mondays. Come and check it out!
The Earth Discovery Center hours are still Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm, Sunday 1pm-5pm.
Following a recent internal audit, Indy Parks determined it needed to make key changes to the system to allow this service to be available to our customers.
In 2010 Indy Parks will no longer issue the window sticker decals to customers who purchase an annual pass. Instead, Indy Parks will issue a handheld pass. The new handheld pass will entitle the holder to enter Eagle Creek Park by vehicle, on foot, or on bicycle, and will accommodate the pass holder's immediate family. A wristband will continue to be offered to those hikers/cyclists who wish to enter the park by that means of travel.
The new handheld passes may be purchased at both 56th and 71st Street Park entrances (cash or check only), and the Eagle Creek Park Office, 7840 W 56th St. (Master Card and VISA payments accepted, 8am-5pm M-F, 317-327-7110).
Annual Vehicle Handheld Pass - $50 ($40 Senior 62 and older)
Annual Hiker/Biker Wristband - $35
Help support Eagle Creek Park by purchasing an Eagle Creek Park Foundation Pass for $85, and becoming a member of the Eagle Creek Park Foundation. You will receive a vehicle handheld pass good for entrance into Eagle Creek Park for 2010, and a portion of your purchase will go directly towards supporting improvements and programs at Eagle Creek Park. For more information, please click here.
Help scientists monitor bird populations by participating in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count! The Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada. It is citizen science at its best, enabling anyone with a birdfeeder to help collect data that will address important questions such as:
Anyone can participate, simply head over to the GBBC website (click here) and print out the data form and instructions, or the Indiana Young Birders Club is sponsoring a count at the Ornithology Center from 12pm-3pm on Saturday, February 13th. Free with park admission, no registration required. Participants can sign up to win a Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, and all participants will have a certificate mailed to them. You can help for as little as five minutes or as long as three hours - it's up to you!
Registration information and class choices now available! Click here for more information.
Don't miss out on the Wood Carvers and Turners Exhibit, coming up February 6th & 7th, 9am-5pm! This is one of three art shows at the Earth Discovery Center and is a chance to see beautiful wooden bowls, bird carvings so detailed you can see every feather, wall plaques, ornaments, walking sticks and much much more!
The Wood Carvers show is especially fun because many of the Wood Carvers and Turners themselves stay for the entire show, demonstrating their amazing woodworking techniques, and they are always willing to answer questions about their work or to give advice to folks that might be interested in trying their own hand at wood carving or turning. Most of the artwork is for sale, so be sure to bring your checkbook!
Click here for more information on art shows, or call the Earth Discovery Center at 317-327-7148.
Enjoy some images from the 2009 Wood Carvers and Turners Show!
Have you ever dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail but weren't quite sure what was involved? This is the class for you! Learn to hike the Appalachian Trail with information on seasonality, making informed choices, meals, gear, and trails with Mr. Andrew Brake, hiker and instructor.
Class meets Tuesday evenings February 16-March 23, 6pm-8pm at the Earth Discovery Center, $80 per person.
Pre-registration is required. Please contact Andrew Brake at 317-938-1199 or firstname.lastname@example.org to for more information or to register.
The Indiana Beekeeping School is holding a distance learning Beekeeping Workshop at the Earth Discovery Center on Friday, January 22 from 5pm-9pm and Saturday, January 23 from 8am-4pm. For more information or to register, please visit their website at www.indianabeekeepingschool.com
Did you know...the Earth Discovery Center has an observation beehive? Check out this video of the queen honey bee laying eggs from this summer: