The badger is Missouri’s largest member of the weasel family. It probably was never common in Missouri, and virtually disappeared from the state by the 1900s.
Badgers are even less common today due to the loss of prairie habitat. Badgers are seldom seen outside the northwest quarter of the state. A notable exception occurred last August, when a motorist killed a 10-pound, juvenile female badger in Jefferson City.
Badgers are sometimes mistaken for woodchucks, due to their stout bodies and their habit of burrowing. However, badgers are about twice the size of woodchucks, reaching a maximum weight of 30 pounds and a length of nearly 3 feet. White markings on the face and head further distinguish badgers from woodchucks. Unlike woodchucks, which are almost entirely vegetarian, badgers are strict carnivores, preying mainly on rodents and rabbits.
Badger fur once was used to make men’s shaving brushes. Missouri trappers still legally take a few badgers each year.
December nights are perfect for convening a twilight hootenanny. With leaves off the trees, you can see any owls that swoop in to check out your calls. Hooting starts at dusk and diminishes by midnight. Moonlit nights are best. Barred owls say “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you aaaaaall?” Great horned owls sound like “oot-too-hoo, hoo-hoo.” They answer even poor imitations. Listen to a few calls before chiming in with your voice or a recording of the real thing.
To attract a wider variety of birds to your backyard feeding station, add a suet feeder or two. You will soon be seeing downy, hairy, red-bellied or red-headed woodpeckers, depending on surrounding habitat. You might even see a northern flicker or a foot-tall pileated woodpecker. Suet is fat trimmed from beef. Some grocery stores sell it in bulk, or you can buy prepared suet bricks mixed with bird seed at bird-feeding specialty stores or hardware stores. Nuthatches, chickadees and lots of other birds like suet, too. Make your own suet feeder by drilling half-inch holes in a piece of firewood and pressing suet into the holes. Hang or stand it near a window for easy viewing. To learn more about feeding birds, the Department offers a free publication. To request this item, write to MDC, Feeding Backyard Birds, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102 or e-mail email@example.com.
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