Investigate an indoor stream or see a bison calf in a clover patch
Several photographers train their telescopic lenses on a newborn near the entrance of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, appearing like paparazzi ready to make a news headline.
This baby, however, is a far cry from royalty. Covered in fur and weighing 45 pounds at birth, the young bison is the newest member of a herd that roams at the park on the west side of Columbus. Resembling cattle from a distance, bison may be overlooked at the zoo, but America’s largest land mammal is revered here, an atypical attraction among white tailed dear, squirrels and birds. But seeing them is tricky. They regularly take naps in a 600-acre prairie, camouflaged by a bouquet of purple clover, Queen Anne’s lace and daisies.
What’s the best way to see them?
Introduced to the park’s Darby Plains, bison can often be seen via the 4.7-mile Darby Creek Greenway Trail. They graze in the field, munching on native plants that were hand-collected along railways and roads to restore the lush prairies. A bison looks like a cow with a thicker body, rounded hump and a wispy beard. Their grazing is important to the prairie ecosystem, and the bison are protected here.
The park also protects more than 20 miles of the Big Darby and Little Darby creeks, which are considered among the healthiest aquatic systems in the Midwest and home to 100 species of fish and 44 species of muscles. Battelle is the largest of 16 parks in the Metro Park system with more than 7,000 acres of forests, prairies and streams.
Visitors can learn about bison and the nearby creeks at the nature center. It features a 53-foot living stream stocked with creatures found in Big Darby Creek. It also has several interactive exhibits and a barrel full of hand-puppets.
Battelle Darby Creek park offers educational programs including canoe trips on the Big Darby, full-moon hikes and photography outings. It’s pet-friendly, with a designated pet trail. Dogs can swim in Osprey Lake, a pond that’s stocked with bluegill, catfish and bass for anglers.
Battelle Darby Creek park is located at 1775 Darby Creek Dr., Galloway, and the park’s nature center is at 1415 Darby Creek Dr.
For more information, visit www.metroparks.net/parksbattelledarbycreek.aspx.