Blog Posts from Discover Nature Notes - 2015

The Peculiar Pileated Woodpecker

Dec 28, 2015

The pileated woodpecker is our largest woodpecker. The crow-sized bird uses its powerful beak to tear into decayed wood in search of beetle grubs and carpenter ants.

Photograph of a pileated woodpecker, side view

Identifying Trees by Their Silhouettes

Dec 21, 2015

Body shape: We’re always trying to change it, even rearrange it! But our friends can easily identify us by that unique individual silhouette–the one the mirror always tells us the truth about!

State Champion Slippery Elm

The Sparrow Saga

Dec 14, 2015

Even in the dead of winter, things can get pretty lively around a bird feeder. It’s a meeting place for cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches and those “little brown birds”… the sparrow.

white-crowned sparrow

Christmas Bird Counts

Dec 07, 2015

An early American holiday tradition was the annual Christmas bird hunt. Participants competed to count the most wild birds. Today, the Christmas Bird Count is a popular tradition around in the United States.

Photo of a ring-necked pheasant cock in flight.

Blue Jay Jamboree

Nov 30, 2015

For many of us, the flashy, bold blue jay was the first bird we learned to identify. Jays are conspicuous because of their size and striking color.

Photo of a blue jay on snow

Stream-ing Along

Nov 23, 2015

An organism’s habitat is where it lives; its home. Good habitats provide everything its inhabitants need to survive.

longnose gar

The Carbon Cycle

Nov 16, 2015

Everyone enjoys a crackling fire on a cold winter night. Besides providing warmth and cheer, fire is part of an essential chemical cycle, the carbon cycle.

Fall Color

Leave It to the Beaver!

Nov 09, 2015

Beavers are impressive mammals, and are suited for life in the water as well as on land.

Beaver on land, chewing log

Debunking Common Snake Myths

Nov 02, 2015

When discussing snakes, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. There are many myths about snakes. Immigrants brought myths from Europe and started new myths as they became acquainted with North American snakes.

prairie kingsnake

Mighty Migrants

Oct 26, 2015

An airplane pilot sits behind a panel of instruments that help get the plane safely to its destination.  Migrating birds, it seems, use some of the same tools.

Photo of three trumpet swans flying over water

Bird Flock Talk

Oct 19, 2015

“Birds of a feather, flock together.” Whoever coined that phrase noticed that when birds group together, they are usually of the same kind. But, what benefit do birds get from flocking?

Photo of two northern shoveler males flying.

The Sights and Sounds of Fall

Oct 12, 2015

Autumn sights are unmistakable. The landscape is awash with the colors of changing leaves. Sunsets are coppery. Fall smells are evocative: cider, smoke from burning leaves, and the singed pumpkin of a jack-o-lantern plug.

Beatuiful fall colors in Hartsburg's river bottom.

Bobcat Tales

Oct 05, 2015

The bobcat’s habitat has played a vital role in the history of the animal’s survival. Despite the profound change from wilderness to developed land, bobcats have managed to remain Midwest residents.

Photo of bobcat

Slithering Baby Snakes

Sep 28, 2015

When people find baby snakes around their homes, they wonder: Where did it come from? Is it venomous? Will we find more?

prairie kingsnake

Along Came a Spider Web

Sep 21, 2015

A heavy morning dew touches all of nature, especially the fine, geometric threads of a spider web.

Photo of arrow-shaped micrathena spider

Color Them Pretty

Sep 14, 2015

In nature, color has a purpose. Seasonal decorations can help some animals distinguish males from females. 

Photo of male mallard in flight

Like a Nighthawk

Sep 07, 2015

Watch for flying bull-bats, a nickname for the common nighthawk in the September sky. Nighthawks are not “hawks” and also fly during daylight hours. Their loud calls will jar the night.

Artwork of a nighthawk

Dynamic Darters

Aug 31, 2015

Next time you see a fish swimming around erratically, it might not be because they are hungry or because they are being chased by another fish. They might simply be living up to their name.

Color illustration of Swamp Darter

The Roadkill Files

Aug 24, 2015

As streets and highways invade more and more animal habitats, the number of road-killed animals rises.

Photograph of a striped skunk walking

In the Land of Ladybugs

Aug 17, 2015

They go by names such as the lady beetle or ladybird beetle, but you may be most familiar with one.

image of Four-Spotted Lady Beetle on a leaf

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