Plants and Animals

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Species of Concern

Black-Tailed Jackrabbit

  • Common Name: Black-tailed jackrabbit
  • Scientific Name: Lepus californicus
  • Range: Southwestern Missouri
  • Classification: State endangered
  • To learn more about endangered species: explore the links listed below.

Once abundant throughout southwestern Missouri, the black-tailed jackrabbit now is as rare as the undisturbed short-grass prairie it needs to survive. Recent surveys have found no jackrabbits in Missouri. If you saw one, you might mistake it for a small dog due to its size. Adults sometimes are more than 2 feet long. Their long, erect ears are a dead giveaway, though. Each of their large bulging eyes has a field of view exceeding 180 degrees, and their senses of smell and hearing both are extremely acute. This makes sneaking up on a jackrabbit nearly impossible. Jackrabbit home ranges can cover 2 square miles. When alarmed, jackrabbits might freeze or move away slowly. If pursued, however, they can cover 20 feet at a bound and top 35 miles per hour. Jackrabbits prefer wild grasses and herbaceous plants but will take crops, such as soybeans, too. In Missouri they are most likely to be found on or near small dairy farms. For detailed information about this and other Missouri mammals, order The Wild Mammals of Missouri from the University of Missouri Press, (800) 828-1894.

Stragglers Need Food, Too

Leave feeders out for late-migrating hummers.

Nectar feeders kept full throughout October and November help ruby-throated hummingbirds that get a late start on migration. Late feeding also occasionally attracts species seldom seen in Missouri, such as the rufous, green violet-ear, Anna’s, Costa’s, broad-tailed, Allen’s and calliope hummingbirds. Use an extra-rich mix of one part sugar to four parts water. Also, remember to clean and refill feeders weekly. Don’t worry about detaining birds beyond their safe migrating time. They know when it’s time to fly south.

Last Hurrah: Cardinal Flower

Fall flames out along streams.

Hike along an Ozark stream early this month and you might catch one last glimpse of nature’s summer glory. Cardinal flower plants in sunny locations begin blooming in July, but those tucked away in shady corners continue to shoot up flaming, 2- to 4-foot flower spikes well into autumn. Cardinal flower thrives in moist locations and is a stunning addition to small ponds in residential landscapes. Butterflies and hummingbirds savor its nectar. For more information about this and other native plants for home landscapes, order Tried and True Missouri Native Plants for Your Yard, available for $6 plus shipping and handling and sales tax (where applicable), from the MDC Nature Shop (877) 521-8632. Also available at MDC offices with Nature Shops.

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