Daytime Owls

JEN ROSA, Naturalist Prairie Oaks It’s commonly believed that owls are nocturnal, but barred owls and short-eared owls prove to be exceptions. They tend to be active during the day, and if you know where to go and what to look for, you might just get a good view of them. Short-eared owls migrate to Ohio in winter and are often seen at Prairie …Read More

The fruit that looks like a monkey brain

ANDREA KRAVA, Naturalist Blendon Woods Osage orange trees aren’t native to Ohio, but they arrived here in large numbers in the 1800s, mostly brought by settlers. They grow thick trunks with thorny branches, perfect for forming a natural fence around early farms and properties. My husband knows the thorns well, as they poke and scratch at him while mowing the lawn at our 1.5-acre …Read More

You can’t miss the vibrant red wahoo

ALLISON SHAW, Naturalist Sharon Woods The eastern wahoo, an often-overlooked tree, is a beautiful find in autumn. It grows up to 20-feet-high and you will notice its bright red fruit immediately. They resemble bittersweet fruits and have four parts with an outer pink covering. The fruits are poisonous to humans but serve as a late-fall food source for wildlife. Native Americans and pioneers used …Read More

My Favorite Places: Highbanks

BRANDON NOVOTNY, Ranger Prairie Oaks The overlook deck at Highbanks is one of my favorite spots for fall color, but it’s a wonderful sight at any time of year, with the river, the high banks that the park is named for and the eagles’ nest. The trail that leads to it is a beautiful walk, the best I have found so far in the …Read More

My Favorite Places: Andy Miller

ANDY T MILLER, Assistant Manager Pickerington Ponds/Chestnut Ridge While I don’t have a favorite spot in the parks for fall colors, there are several parks that I like year round. I enjoy walking the Homesite Trail at Chestnut Ridge and looking back to the southeast over hills. The Spring Creek Trail at Sharon Woods is really nice because there is a wide variety of …Read More

My Favorite Places: Scott Felker

SCOTT FELKER, Three Creeks Naturalist One of my very favorite places to be in fall is Pickerington Pond’s Glacier Knoll observation deck at sunset. It’s not as much for the view as it is for the sights and sounds of wildlife. Flocks of ducks and geese return to the wetlands for the night, sandhill cranes make their loud and inimitable call, deer move through …Read More

My Favorite Places: Jecy Weber

JECY WEBER, Greenways Ranger There are many breathtaking vistas at Metro Parks. Either natural or manmade, it is not hard to find a place so beautiful it takes your breath away. When asked what my favorite places in Metro Parks are, places do not come to mind. Instead, I think of the interactions I have had with the public or with co-workers. These make …Read More

October is bat appreciation month

CARRIE MORROW, Assistant Resource Manager I’m standing under a huge, dead cottonwood tree. Much of the bark has fallen off and the smooth inner bark stands out as a white beacon in the dark green woods. The sun is setting rapidly and a barred owl calls off in the distance. A mosquito buzzes by my ear and I swat it away with my hand. …Read More

My Favorite Places: Inniswood Prairie Garden

COLLEEN SHARKEY, Environmental Educator, Inniswood Metro Gardens Bumblebees buzzing, crickets chirping and goldfinches exploding from wildflower plantings always brighten my day as I wander through the Prairie Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens. Fall wildflowers are gorgeous right now and my favorite way to enjoy them is to walk among them, with the sunflowers and grasses towering above me. The mowed pathway through the Prairie Garden …Read More

Growing a forest from the ground up

ALYSSA BALTER, Restoration Ecologist Direct seeding of nuts offers a simple, cost-effective supplement to Metro Park’s reforestation efforts and has been an annual activity for nearly 20 years. This process is typically used to expedite tree establishment in small pockets between existing forest, which is much faster than natural seed dispersal. The focus for direct seeding this fall will be in a new parcel of Prairie …Read More

My Favorite Places: four great places in fall

TOM COCHRAN, Prairie Oaks Manager In my opinion, there is no better place to view fall colors than along Big Darby Creek at Prairie Oaks, especially from the bridge that connects Darby Bend Lakes to the main part of the park. The lakes are also a great spot to view migrating waterfowl. There are also opportunities to see numerous deer in fall, including some very large …Read More

My Favorite Places: Walden Waterfowl Refuge

BRANDON NOVOTNY, Prairie Oaks Ranger The Walden Waterfowl Refuge at Blendon Woods qualifies as one of my favorite places, especially in late September and early October when waterfowl start to move in. I love to see the very colorful wood ducks, but there are plenty other species. Once the weather really turns and it gets to winter the refuge’s Thoreau Lake truly becomes a …Read More

My favorite place: Stunning downtown views at Scioto Audubon’s bocce ball courts

CHRISTOPHER DELGROSSO Assistant Manager, Scioto Audubon As summer bows its head and awaits the arrival of fall there is a magical transformation that takes place at Scioto Audubon Metro Park. What was once a sea of green hues will soon be upstaged by a mosaic of color. Like an abstract painting, our trails will come to life with color from around 400 deciduous trees, …Read More

Plein Air art society enjoys a Paint Out at Inniswood

A group of very talented artists unpacked their paints, brushes and canvases at Inniswood Metro Gardens recently. All of them are members of the Ohio Plein Air Society, and they visited Central Ohio’s premier botanical gardens for one of their society Paint Outs. Carol Cosgrove, the society’s Paint Out Czar (yes, that’s what it says on the society website), organizes these gatherings of artists …Read More

We’re Buckeyes because…

CODY BERKEBILE Blacklick Woods Naturalist Now that football season is here, Ohioans turn their focus to The Ohio State Buckeyes. Living in Columbus, it is impossible to ignore the barrage of buckeyes across all media. Fans are familiar with the buckeye nut, as it is the basis for the team’s mascot, Brutus Buckeye. This iconic mascot did not debut until the fall of 1965. Up …Read More

How to grow a butterfly

It’s that time of year when monarch butterflies begin their magical migration south to the mountains of Mexico, where they’ll spend the winter. I’ve been seeing monarch butterflies in the parks, and as I drive along the highways to and from work, and around Ohio. The adult butterflies, which have been alive for less than a couple of weeks, are making a journey south …Read More

Friday Night Floaters

The sun shone brightly on Sharon Woods’ 11-acre Schrock Lake as its recent Friday Night Float program began. Eager canoeists, many of them first-timers, signed-on for a 20-minute float around the tree-lined lake. Park staff and volunteers helped canoeists into life jackets, guided them into their canoes and pushed them from the launching dock and out onto the lake. One of the first set …Read More

Hellbenders make a splash as they return to Big Darby Creek

Eastern hellbenders found a new home in Big Darby Creek in August. More than 80 of these impressively sized creatures, the largest species of amphibian in Ohio and one of the largest salamanders in the world, settled comfortably into their new habitat. The reintroduction of this species to Big Darby Creek is a result of a partnership among Metro Parks, the Ohio Hellbender Partnership, Ohio …Read More

It’s threshing time

A golden, ripe wheat field is a beautiful sight and its appearance in July means it is grain threshing season on the farm. At Metro Parks’ Slate Run Living Historical Farm, the farm workers use an 1880s era horse powered threshing machine to separate the seed heads of wheat, oats, barley and rye from straw stalks. Marcus and Maude, two mighty Percheron draft horses, …Read More

Happy birthday, Henry David Thoreau

Two hundred years ago, on July 12, 1817, Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts. This famous American author, transcendentalist, naturalist, political dissident and human rights advocate inspired the names behind Walden Waterfowl Refuge and Thoreau Lake at Blendon Woods. Thoreau is best known for spending more than two years in a cabin in the woods near Concord. While there, he spent his …Read More

World Snake Day: Celebrating Memaw and snakes around the globe

July 16 marks World Snake Day, a time to celebrate snakes and the vital roles they play in the ecosystem. The Metro Parks have several different snakes, including Memaw, a gray ratsnake. If you’ve ventured into Sharon Woods, you may have seen Memaw in the naturalist’s office. To celebrate World Snake Day, we’re sharing some fun facts about the gray ratsnake. Memaw, affectionately named for her …Read More

Butterflies of the Night

Butterflies get all the attention. They’re pretty, and they fly during the day when us fellow day-dwellers are likely to actually see them. Moths, on the other hand, are mostly nocturnal and often drab by comparison. But there are way more moths than butterflies in the world, and many are just as stunning as their butterfly brethren. Moths and butterflies are really two sides …Read More

The importance and beauty of forests

A summer walk in the cool green forests at any of your 19 Metro Parks will inspire your imagination and stir your senses. Forests are the centerpiece of most parks, from streamside or riparian forests of towering sycamores and gnarly box elders to the dry ridge-top forests of mountain laurel and chestnut oak. A forest is much more than a collection of trees. Our …Read More

Unsung beauties lie ready for discovery in the fields

A stroll or run through a Metro Park provides many views—forest, fields, mid-succession areas and mowed lawn areas. Fields provide a habitat for many plants and animals and are typically maintained to stay as that habitat, but were not planted with prairie flowers and grasses. If left alone, most fields and prairies would revert back to forest over time. To the casual observer, there …Read More

Threshing is done the old-fashioned way at Slate Run Living Historical Farm

With each passing month from spring to fall, the farm’s Percheron draft horses are kept busy as the driving forces behind the farm’s vast array of machinery and tools for field preparation. Whether it be plowing or harrowing fields, mowing to loading hay, I find it fascinating to watch these amazing animals in action. However, revealing itself in the month of July, there is …Read More

Simply Succulents is simply fascinating

A long-standing tradition at Inniswood Metro Gardens is the seasonal garden theme for the display beds. This theme is chosen at the beginning of every year to help guide the designs of the 80 plus containers and annual displays planted throughout the grounds. In years past, themes have been everything from Going Tropical to A Concert of Color and Desirable and Reliable Annuals. This …Read More

The parks remove huge spreads of callery pear and other biological pollutants

If you hike the Mingo Trail at Scioto Grove Metro Park you will notice that many trees are being cut in the area. Visitors seem a little startled when they notice this. They think of Metro Parks as tree growers not tree cutters. These particular trees, however, are an example of what writer and entomologist Doug Tallamy calls “biological pollution.” These trees are called …Read More

Metro Parks help one out-of-stater get ready for some big races this summer

The call of the wild and the open spaces of nature have always had a powerful allure for one out-of-state resident, who visits family in Central Ohio at least three times a year. Jennifer Thorsen can’t keep away from the Metro Parks when she’s here (despite her parents’ objections). Jenny, age 37, lives in St Charles, Illinois, and says, “Running and nature are great …Read More

Ancient earthwork found at Blacklick Woods

UPDATE, SEPT 22, 2017 On Sunday Sept 24, 2017, archaeologist Jared Burks will conduct a magnetic survey of the recently discovered earthwork at Blacklick Woods, using ground penetrating radar equipment to read the different layers of substrate in the soil and so produce clearer mapping of the earthwork. We invite you to meet with us at the nature center at noon and we’ll take …Read More

Hail the Creek Taxi

The Creek Taxi will soon be in service to help canoers and kayakers enjoy a great float on Big Darby Creek. This special, one-time service is set for Saturday June 10. Bring your own registered canoe or kayak to the Upper Darby Canoe Access at Prairie Oaks Metro Park, 4275 Amity Rd. Hilliard OH 43026. Park there and enjoy a 2-mile self-guided float on …Read More

Bees work hard to pollinate fruit and vegetables at Slate Run Farm

Swarms of honey bees have recently visited the orchard at Slate Run Living Historical Farm. While some people may find this unsettling, it is a sign that the nearby hives are healthy, which is a very good thing. Bees are an integral part of food production. Without them, there would be no apples, peaches, peppers, cucumbers, nor many other fruits and vegetables. Swarms can …Read More

Keep the wild in wildlife

Late spring is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy a romp through the parks. My personal favorite is going for a hike shortly after a rain. There is something magical to me about the woods when the air is still cool and tiny rain droplets cling to rejuvenated leaves. I love the sights and smells, and especially seeing all the life around …Read More

Loving memories inspire great new features at Blendon Woods for the Wild Child in all of us

We hear it all the time: “Life is short.” And the rest are memories of that life. This is the backstory of the redesigned natural play area at Blendon Woods Metro Park—also known in my life as “Daddy and Maris’ park.” This morning when I woke up, my social media memories delivered the day my husband Tim and I announced that we were pregnant. …Read More

The weekly search for butterflies at Inniswood yields fascinating results

It probably isn’t a surprise that bees and butterflies of all kinds find a home at Inniswood. Our combination of cultivated gardens and natural areas provides opportunities to meet the needs of many lepidoptera species. Every week, April through October, an Inniswood educator sets out on a stroll through the gardens in search of butterflies. We follow a set route past flower beds, prairie …Read More

A float down Big Darby Creek is the perfect pick-me-up

If you’d like a beautiful, tranquil, challenging canoe or kayak float without leaving Franklin County then Big Darby Creek is for you. This dedicated National Scenic River is not only a biological gem it’s also an opportunity for a day of visual candy. Nature at its best is revealed as you float down the creek, making twisting turns and bouncing through riffled waters. Then …Read More

Five Trees to visit this Arbor Day Weekend (or any other time too)

It’s Arbor Day in Ohio, Friday April 28, 2017. Why not get out and celebrate this Arbor Day weekend by exploring your Metro Parks for some giants—giant trees, that is. The following are just a very few of the awesome trees you could visit. Follow the links for park directions and trail maps. Perhaps taking in the majesty of these behemoths will inspire you …Read More

Vernal Pools 2: What a change a month can bring

Last month when we visited the vernal pool (see Blog post), spring was just starting to break free from the icy grip of winter, although this winter wasn’t so icy…! The salamanders and wood frogs had just awakened from their winter torpor, the fairy shrimp cruised silently under the water’s surface, and the resident birds were cautiously announcing the longer days with song. But …Read More

See a bounty of nature’s riches at Blacklick Woods Metro Park

Spring is a special time in any temperate deciduous forest. The woods wake up after sleeping all winter, and a variety of life “springs” forth. In the swamp forest at Blacklick Woods, the vernal pools come alive. These temporary wetlands fill with water from snowmelt and spring rains, and despite having been dry since the previous summer, suddenly teem with life. Amphibians are the …Read More

Protect our Parks!

Students in Upper Arlington Spanish IV Honors classes just implemented a very creative and impactful service learning project aimed at making healthy and clean choices toward our environment. Students collaborated with Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks to develop a series of informational videos designed to encourage English & Spanish speaking park visitors help protect their parks. This project was designed as an initiative …Read More

Friends of Metro Parks award “Tad Jeffrey Memorial Grants” to six parks

Friends of Metro Parks will again award grants to parks from the Tad Jeffrey Memorial Grants Fund. Last year, five were awarded inaugural Tad Jeffrey Memorial Grants to complete unique and diverse projects to enrich the park experience for visitors. The projects included an insect hotel, a roving nature station, and even a tandem bike to use on the Greenway Trails. These grants were …Read More

Metro Parks provide ideal places to start a walking or running routine

On a slightly brisk, yet sunny March day, a group of women keen to start a walking or running routine met at Blacklick Woods’ Beech Maple Lodge for a Metro Five-0: Walk and Run 101 program. They were greeted by Metro Parks Outreach Naturalist Karen Ricker and Columbus Running Company’s Outreach Coordinator Lisa Dillahunt. The program, for people age 50 and older, was designed …Read More

The eagles star in their ongoing show at Highbanks

In late 2009, a bald eagle pair started investigating an abandoned raptor nest within Highbanks Metro Park, along the Olentangy River. They were young birds, by eagle standards, probably about four years old, and this was their first nesting attempt. Though the nest was hard to see, a few dedicated volunteers spent many hours from March to May 2010 monitoring the eagles. They used …Read More

New life is here now, but the Farm’s heritage breeds cement a bridge to the past

Spring is the beginning of the new farming year, when the gardens and fields are being planted. It is also the time when we have the most animal births, specifically our sheep, cattle and hogs. As Slate Run is a Living Historical Farm, we do things the 1880s way. It means that our animals are heritage breeds, which can be loosely defined as breeds …Read More


Metro Parks educators are always trying to find new ways to engage our park visitors to utilize nature. Several years ago, a few naturalists read an article in the National Association for Interpretation magazine about fairy house programs and events. This seemed like an interesting way to get new visitors to the parks, but some of us wondered whether it would work, whether it might not …Read More

A Metro Parks Success Story in Community Policing

In 2016, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks was one of the first agencies in the state to have been certified in meeting Ohio’s standards to improve community and police relations. So far, 506 of the state’s 877 law enforcement agencies have adopted or are working toward adopting statewide standards for use of force, use of deadly force and the recruitment and hiring of …Read More

Five steps to an edible landscape

Growing our own food doesn’t have to change our residential landscape into a row-covered produce farm. The food that we grow can also be quite pleasing to the eye and there are some simple ways to add them to your garden. Here are five ways to incorporate edibles into an existing landscape. Look down First, remember to look down. Many types of thyme grow …Read More

Pokémon Inspirations

The mobile game Pokémon Go made a big impact on us at Highbanks last year. We had approximately 400,000 additional visitors to the park compared to 2015, and a big part of that increase was people coming to Highbanks in order to play the game. Visitors arrived at Highbanks from all over Ohio, and some even made trips from Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois so …Read More

Kids learn about golf and learn life skills at The First Tee of Central Ohio programs

Registration is under way for the spring sessions of The First Tee of Central Ohio programs for kids age 5 to 17, hosted by Blacklick Woods Golf Courses. There is a lot of fun and a lot of golf, but the programs are also designed to build character and develop leadership skills. More than a thousand kids participated in the program last year, led …Read More

The Best Part About Metro Parks’ Summer Camps—EVERYTHING!

Here at Metro Parks, we’re gearing up for summer and you know what that means—SUMMER CAMP! Trails are cleared, hot dogs are roasted, archery bows are strung, kayaks are docked on the bank, fishing line and friendship bracelet thread is untangled, and all of the wonders of your Metro Parks are waiting for you to discover. If seeing your kids come home with muddy …Read More

The Year’s First Wildflower

By February, most of us are tired of winter and are probably looking forward to spring with great anticipation. Some of us are even walking through the fields and forests in search of the first signs of spring. If you know where to look, you may find the first new wildflower of spring, the skunk cabbage. Skunk cabbage gets its name from the fact …Read More

Augmented reality at the Winter Hikes

At the Highbanks Winter Hike (Sat February 11, 10am) and the Glacier Ridge Winter Hike (Sun February 12, 2pm), you can use a fantastic app to enhance your winter hike experience. The TaleBlazer app was a big success when used at the Sharon Woods winter hike in January. Using the TaleBlazer app you can download a self-guided tour of the winter hike routes at both …Read More

Stink bugs and lady beetles

Be warned! If you see a stink bug in your house, don’t smash it, or you’ll immediately get to know how stink bugs got their name. Look up “P.U.” in the dictionary. Your kids might see a beautiful looking bug and be captivated by its brilliant, shiny orange-red color. But watch out that this orange ladybug doesn’t bite them. Stink bugs and ladybugs spend …Read More

Let There Be Soup

Winter hikers at Blendon Woods have been relishing and praising the park’s chicken noodle soup for years, and many have asked, or even pleaded, for the recipe. That, I’m afraid, remains a closely guarded secret. For 12 years now, the soup has been made by the same pair of dedicated soupers, Blendon Woods Assistant Park Manager Brett Berisford, and his fellow souper Kurt Fortman. …Read More

The Gleason Family Adventure

UPDATE: June 2017 The Gleasons have changed their schedule and will now head to the Rocky Mountains National Park as the first leg of their trip. SEE VIDEO OF THE GLEASON FAMILY WITH 10TV’s JEFF HOGAN The Gleasons of Central Ohio have made a family commitment to take a series of adventures this year—but how to get fit for it? Well, the Metro Parks …Read More

Extreme weather affects Christmas Bird Counts

Audubon’s Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) has been noting and recording our feathered friends for the last 117 years and is the oldest running Citizen Science Project in America. In a typical year, data is collected by tens of thousands of volunteers across the Americas to help assess the health of bird populations and guide conservation action. Last year, at least in Central Ohio, …Read More

Volunteers recognized for their invaluable contributions to Metro Parks

Metro Parks visitors take delight in many things they can see in the parks, whether that be a beautiful sunset or sunrise, a chance sighting of a deer or a coyote in a woodland clearing, the wonderful spread of wildflowers in a spring forest—but many visitors take even more delight in seeing the easily-recognizable shirt of a Metro Parks volunteer. Volunteers can be seen …Read More

Wild animals need our care and attention on the roads

Earlier this week a couple of Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies alerted staff at Scioto Grove Metro Park about an injured barred owl along the roadway at Jackson Pike. Park staff came out, got the owl, took it back to the maintenance shop and called the Ohio Wildlife Center (OWC). A volunteer from OWC came out and took the raptor to their veterinary hospital for …Read More

Snow Story 1: Animals and Snow

Have you ever wondered what animals do when it snows? For many species, food sources and water are buried under snow and ice. But to other animals, snow is a protective layer providing warmth and cover from predators. One way animals deal with snow is to sleep. Well, not sleep exactly! Many animals undergo a type of torpidity, or change in their body’s metabolism. …Read More

Special programming for special kids

It’s widely accepted that outdoor play and exploration is essential to the healthy physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of all children. But children with special needs often face barriers to accessing and connecting with the outdoors. This is a challenge that Metro Parks and the YMCA Early Childhood Resource Network+ have taken on, to ensure that families with special needs children have access …Read More

Tally our feathered friends at the Audubon Christmas Bird Counts

From December 14 through January 5 each year tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas take part in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC), the longest-running citizen science wildlife census in the world. We invite you to join staff and volunteers at Blendon Woods (Dec 18, 8 am), Glacier Ridge (Dec 31, 8:30am), Highbanks (Dec 17, 9am), Inniswood (Dec 17, 8am) and Sharon …Read More

Look out for Woody Woodpecker and friends this winter

Watch out for—or should that be listen out for—woodpeckers at the parks this winter. Their spectacular coloring delights the eye, while their persistent hammering on trees can be a real assault on the ears, at least until you adjust to it. When they hammer away at the tree with their hefty bills, they’re either hunting for food, building a nest, or even communicating with …Read More

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In this famous line from Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2), William Shakespeare’s tale of the “star-cross’d” lovers, Juliet is telling Romeo that his last name isn’t important, and that she didn’t care that their families were feuding, as a name is a man-made and meaningless …Read More

Thanksgiving on the Farm

The idea of Thanksgiving in America often conjures up images of Native Americans and early settlers around tables laden with food. George Washington was the first president to declare a national day of thanksgiving and prayer, for Nov 26, 1789. Other presidents set aside national days of thanksgiving after that, but President Abraham Lincoln finally declared it a federal holiday in 1863. (In 1941, …Read More

Help us improve the Greenway Trails

The Central Ohio Greenway Trails are an extensive series of multipurpose trails connecting communities, neighborhoods, downtown Columbus and other destination points. Metro Parks manages and maintains more than 50 miles of these trails, which are used for fitness, recreational and transportation needs and add to the quality of life for the people of Central Ohio. We want to continue to improve upon the Greenway …Read More

Will You Go Out With Us?

  You may remember when REI did something different on Black Friday last year—they closed the co-op’s doors and invited the nation to opt outside with them. And more than a million people did just that. It really caught the attention of our community. To learn more about the plans for this year, visit REIOptOutside. Black Friday #OptOutside Social Media Contest: This year on Black Friday we’re …Read More

Unbe-leaf-able Science

Fall is here and the leaves are changing colors right before our eyes. In just a few more weeks, the leaves will have fallen from the trees and winter will be right around the corner. But before that happens, let’s learn what’s going on inside of the trees… and you can even try an experiment at home to see the science behind the leaves …Read More

The Haunted Forest Effect

The work of busy beech blight aphids While hiking along the many trails of our Metro Parks a mysterious substance can be discovered this time of year. As this mysterious black growth unveils itself, it appears to be oozing off the limbs of beech trees. It is in such forests, with these beautiful beech trees, that an observant eye may witness nature’s Halloween decor draped …Read More

You Can Eat That: Black Walnut

Launching into wild edible plants may seem complicated, but with a little knowledge and an adventurous mindset, you could be foraging for your own food in no time. Before you get started, enter with a mindset of SAFETY FIRST! Certain plants can have either acute or underlying toxins and some may even have both. The first thing to do is to learn to identify plants. …Read More