he Darien Nature Center building opened in 2002 in Cherry Lawn Park “dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the natural world.” The soaring timber and glass building houses seasonal exhibits, usually with an environmental theme. The center offers after-school (age three and up) programs and summer (age two through 12) programs from mid-June through late July (must be a member to participate). There are live animals at the center, all rehabilitated animals that cannot be released in the wild; the nearly 40 species include screech owls, frogs, Eastern corn snakes and painted and wood turtles, an African pygmy hedgehog, prairie dogs, and many others. Nature center staff may take some of these animals out for personal visits. On staff is a licensed rehabilitator who is able to help with injured or abandoned squirrels; information is available for rehabilitators who handle other creatures.Outdoors, nature center programs can take advantage of a nature trail and wildflower meadow and the spring-fed pond. The center is open Monday-Friday, 9 to 4, and Saturday, 9 to 1; it’s available for nature-themed birthday parties.
The Darien Nature Center is at 120 Brookside Road; take Brookside off Boston Post Road, one mile. On the right is the entrance to Cherry Lawn Park, where the center is located. Call 203-655-7459; the Web site is dariennaturecenter.org.