INTOXICATED WILDLIFE: When might some birds need a designated flyer? When their food is overripe. Favored fruits can become fermented. For birds and insects consuming rotten fruit or overripe nectar, this temporary impairment can leave them vulnerable to injury and predators. Learn more about this natural phenomena and what you might do if you observe this behavior in this week's Discover Nature Note.
People have been stealing kisses under its branches for years, but in nature, mistletoe is the real thief. This parasite plant steals nutrients from trees. The white berries that you see during the holidays have a sticky seed that taps into trees, then feeds and grows in clumps. Mistletoe also provides food and nesting homes for birds and mammals. Discover fun facts and folklore about mistletoe, where you can find it naturally in Missouri, and who it feeds and shelters in this week's Discover Nature Note.
While on the holiday road, look for these roadside dive-bombers. They may be perching on highway signs, telephone wires and polls, or dive-bombing the ground for their dining preferences. American Kestrels are the smallest and most colorful raptors and are a common winter sight in open areas and alongside roadways. They nest in cavities, usually older, dead trees. Learn more about these pint-sized predators, what they look and sound like, and how you can build a nest box to attract a pair and watch them raise a family in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Missouri's Spicy Evergreen: It's aromatic wood is used for chests and closets, it's oils for soaps and gin, and it's high-energy berries feed hungry birds. Meet the eastern red cedar. A shapely, spicy evergreen that is Missouri's most common and a yuletide favorite for people and wildlife. Red cedar branches provide greenery during winter and protect deer and rabbits from the wind. Learn more fun facts about red cedar trees in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Celebrating 40 Years of Natural Areas: Did you ever wish you had a time machine? You don't need one to visit many of Missouri's original landscapes that still look the same as when early Native Americans or Lewis and Clark traversed them. These are some of Missouri's most scenic spots and feature rare plants, animals and geography. You can still walk through an old majestic forest, canoe through a primitive swamp, or photograph wildflowers among tall prairie grasses by visiting some of these 184 special places around the state. Learn more about Missouri's Natural Areas and pick your favorite to visit in this week's Discover Nature Note.
THE THANKSGIVING TURKEY: Whether served up wild or domestic, your holiday turkey is a bird simmered in American tradition. Turkeys have a wild history since they were first domesticated by Native Americans, including a near miss as our national symbol. Learn fun facts about wild turkeys and how they were brought back in Missouri in this week's Discover Nature Note. As a special bonus, watch a video on preparing wild turkey.
DABBLERS vs DIVERS: Are you a dabbler or a diver? Do you like floating along the surface or going deep? Dabblers and divers are two main types of ducks. You can tell them apart by the way they eat, fly and look. Ducks are amazing creatures. They fill the skies with sound and form this time of year and the waters with aerobic swimming feats. Learn how you can tell the difference between dabbling ducks and diving ducks in this week's Discover Nature Note. Scroll down to the media gallery and watch an action packed video, and see photos and sounds of your favorite ducks.
White-tailed deer are magnificent creatures and a common sight across Missouri's landscape. Over the last 100 years, they were brought back from an all-time low of 400 to more than 1.2 million today. They are one of our most valuable species for outdoor recreation, jobs and tourism. The work of keeping our deer herd healthy today is as important as the early work to restore them to the state. Scientists work with hunters and landowners to prevent the spread of disease, especially Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which is always fatal. Learn more about deer health, CWD, and mandatory testing in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Fall moves in with a blaze of warm colors and rustic smells. The soundtrack of fall is vibrant as well with rustling leaves, squirrels foraging and geese honking. It's a crisp and layered feast for the senses each year when the summer fades into fall and fall slides into winter. Take a sensory trip into fall in this week's Discover Nature Note.
They may have hairy legs and fangs full of venom, or large ears and flappy, vampire-looking wings, but these real life critters eat the blood suckers that ruin our summer evenings and perform some amazing feats. Spiders and bats are feared by many and their plastic versions on Halloween decorations play off this spooky reputation. Learn fun facts about bats and the Missouri tarantula in this week's Discover Nature Note. Also view a video quiz and see if you can guess the spooky critters by their sound before each puzzle completes.
It's a party in the sky each fall and winter as droves of ducks and geese wing their way into Missouri on their journey south for the winter. Stopping over in lakes, ponds and rivers, different types of waterfowl arrive at different times as the weather changes. Learn about these dabblers, divers, and geese and their travel timetables in this week's Discover Nature Note. Scroll through the Media Gallery to see photos and hear sounds of our various visitors.
In the movie, What About Bob, Bill Murray plays a character who is challenged with taking baby steps outdoors. On the other end of the spectrum, bobcats are sure-footed and stealthy, able to pounce, climb and swim. Bobcats are fascinating creatures that might compete well in looks and skills with the cat sensation that has swept social media. Learn more about bobcats and see them up close in video in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Eat them green and you'll pucker up like a sun fish. Gather them ripe before the raccoons and you'll enjoy Missouri's tastiest fall treat -- perfect for pies, breads, and puddings. Persimmons are a homegrown, favorite fall fruit. Discover more about persimmons, what sports use the tree wood, and how to make persimmon fudge in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Take a hike this fall or enjoy a walk through some spectacular Missouri scenery. We're featuring a top five list of conservation area trails around the state to get out and enjoy fall weather, color and fun in this week's Discover Nature Note. Pick your favorite place to explore, get fit, and spend quality time with family and friends.
Without them, our produce aisles would be mostly bare. With less of them, harvest sizes will shrink and prices will soar. Bees are essential for many of the foods we eat and nutrients we need. Native bumblebees are intentional pollinators that do the most important work. Learn more about bees, how you can help, and the amazing diversity we have in St. Louis in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Gather ye nuts while ye may. In Missouri, that's September and October for our finest homegrown edibles. Our top three that rank high in nutrition, economic value and taste are black walnuts, pecans and hickories. Learn about these nuts in this week's Discover Nature Note. For a sweet treat, watch a video on how to make glazed pecans and walnuts.
Monarch butterflies in the eastern U.S. and Canada fly more than 2,000 miles to the same forest in Mexico every fall. In the spring they return. Four generations make the round trip. The migration of monarch butterflies is truly a natural wonder and navigation marvel. You can learn more about these popular pollinators and how you can help bring monarchs back from a serious decline in this week's Discover Nature Note. You can also watch videos of a new monarch emerging and a woman from Columbia, Missouri who raises monarchs.
You're most likely to see them in clear, swift, shallow waters. Their bright colors and fast dashing movements will give them away and so they are aptly named darters. Learn more about these flashy fish in this week's Discover Nature Note. You can also find Discover Nature Notes at mdc.mo.gov on the homepage. This week's special bonus feature includes an audio podcast with MDC Scientist Doug Novinger, talking streamside about the iconic Niangua darter, only found in Missouri.
It was named by French explorers, cared for by Native Americans, sustained by fire and when the steel plow broke it; it fed the world. The tallgrass prairie is truly an original American landscape. Learn more about this special habitat and where you can explore remaining Missouri prairies in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Wildlife doesn't plan ahead for an eclipse but have been known to react to totality in interesting ways. As they experience a very short night in the middle of the day, birds, insects and other wildlife respond to changing light conditions. Learn more about how animals behave during an eclipse and conservation areas in the viewing path in this week's Discover Nature Note.