Newborn Bison Calves at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

A sure sign of spring: Three newborn bison calves at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie were spotted Thursday – just in time for Mother’s Day! Chris Lundgren took the attached photo of three new calves, which are each close to their mothers and stand out in the photo with their orange coats that inspired the popular “red dog” nickname.

More new calves might be born in the coming weeks. Bison experience a nine-month gestation period similar to humans. A newborn bison can stand on its own after birth and can run the same day.

A small herd of bison was introduced at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie as a prairie restoration experiment through a partnership agreement with the USDA Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation in 2015.

In 2016, bison were named America’s first-ever National Mammal

These fast facts and more information about bison is available on the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie website:

The bison roam approximately 1,000 acres at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, and you might not see them. If you are planning to look for the bison, a good starting point is the Iron Bridge Trailhead. Bring binoculars and wear comfortable closed-toe shoes. Be prepared to hike in about 25 to 35 minutes (one way) to the spotting scopes along the Route 53 Trail. The trail is in direct sunlight. GPS Coordinates to the Iron Bridge Trailhead: 41°22’43.9″N 88°07’23.0″W

Self-guided interpretive hikes:

Trail MAPS in English & Spanish:

Booklet guides on wildflowers, grasses, birds and more:

The wooded area just east of the Iron Bridge Trailhead parking lot is covered right now in bluebells and spring beauties that will last for only a very short time; we hope that you can find time to visit while these fleeting spring ephemerals are in full bloom on the prairie.

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Press Release