COOL OFFOn the Waterthis summer. With more than 110,000 miles of rivers and streams, Missouri has many chill choices for floating, fishing, exploring and more. Discover where to go, find helpful tips, and take a musical journey along Missouri waterways in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Space Invaders: It's no game when invasive plants take over your backyard or property. They can become costly and hard to control and displace native plants and animals. Learn how you can help stop the invasion and join the fight in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Happy Independence Week! To mark the holiday, we are celebrating red, white, and blue in nature. It's surprising how often these colors appear and where. You can see patriotic colors on display in the wild, watch a video, and learn more in this week's Discover Nature Note.
When was the last time you had a visitor from Costa Rica or Panama? It may be sooner than you think. One tropical visitor, known as the Baltimore Oriole, can be found here in the warmer months, feeding on a steady diet of insects and fruit. Learn more about these colorful birds and how to attract them to your yard in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Hummingbird Hustle: These pint-sized birds pack a lot of power and speed in their game. They can fly backwards, sideways and even upside down with wings beating 75 times per second. Hummingbirds also feature a rainbow of colors as they flit about seeking nectar from orange and red tubular flowers. Watch a mother hummingbird feeding her young in the nest, and learn more fun facts and how to attract them to your yard in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Fish Fathers: This Sunday is Father's Day. Check out two fish fathers who would qualify for "super dad" status when it comes to raising young fry. Learn their techniques, watch a recipe for catfish with crabmeat, and the answer to a Father's Day riddle below in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Riddle: Two fathers and two sons go fishing together in the same boat. They all catch a fish but the total catch for the day is three fish. How is this possible?
Little Armored One: That's the spanish translation for armadillos, kin to anteaters and sloths. Their hard, outer shell can't protect them from a habit that turns deadly along roads. Armadillo's jump when frightened, which is poor timing when cars are passing overhead. For this, they've earned the nickname, Texas speedbumps. Armadillo's fare much better crossing ponds. They can inflate their stomach and intestines and paddle across the surface or sink to the bottom and stroll across. Learn more fun facts about Missouri's only armadillo, the nine-banded, in this week's Discover Nature Notes blog.
Rattlesnake Rattles: It's a startling sound that can stop you in your tracks. There's no mistaking the rattlesnake's rattle. But how it makes its scary sound and grows its tail may surprise you. Hint, you cannot judge a snake's age by the number of rattles on its tail. Watch, listen and explore more in this week's Discover Nature Note.
The Long and Short of Animal Life Spans: Some take a wild ride to exotic places but don't make their first birthdays. Others live longer, quieter lives close to home. The fast lane of the natural world is an adventure in survival for most. See the monarch's story up close in stunning time-lapse and learn about animal life spans in this week's Discover Nature Notes.
The Color of Fish: It's all about the color. Missouri fish can even put on a tropical show. Fish use color for blending into their surroundings, selecting mates and self-defense. They can also change their colors and patterns by mood. Learn more about the how fish use color in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Missouri's Marsupial Moms: They may be scruffy scavengers, but these mammal moms are made for mobility. Opossums are the only marsupials in North America. Females have fur-lined front pouches to raise their large broods who are born blind, hairless, and weighing less than a dime. Their young will feed and grow in the pouch. Opossum mothers will carry them on their back after that. In May, the babes will head out on their own. Watch opossums in the pouch and on the go and learn about their special skills, like playing possum, in this week's Discover Nature Note.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN NATURE: Spring may have sprung a bit later this year but this week should be popping. With the 5th of May coming up this Saturday, we're featuring five things to watch for in nature this week as you head outdoors. Some are happening in the woods, others underwater, and a few in backyards or open spaces. A great source to keep up with natural happenings throughout the year as well as vibrant photographs is our natural events calendar. Here are five natural events from the calendar in this week's Discover Nature Note.
BE BEAR AWARE: Black bears have been making a comeback in Missouri's southern forests. Get to know the black bear, how to identify their tracks, watch them in the wild, and learn how you can be bear aware in Missouri in this week's Discover Nature Note.
DISCOVER NATURE NOTES: Want to bring butterflies to your backyard? Planting native plants will help feed our native, hungry flyers. Planting the right greenery to feed their hungry, hungry caterpillars is an easy way to bring them in. Native plants help native species and will make any garden pop with color throughout the season. Learn tips to attract butterflies and watch a video on native gardening in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Everyone likes to root for a champion. And when that champion is rooted in the ground, it’s an award-winning affair. For 50 years, Missouri has registered champion trees with state records in over 100 species around the state. A record tree is decided on a point system that includes height, crown, spread, and trunk size. The largest tree on record is a bald cypress tree in southeast Missouri. Trees are the largest and oldest living organisms and often mark milestones in our lives and communities. Learn more about champion trees, how you can view and nominate them, and watch a video of a special champion with its own Facebook page and caretaker family in this week's Discover Nature Note.
ARBOR DAY: It's been said that in the time of Columbus, squirrels could travel from tree to tree without touching the ground, from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. Most of our ancient forests are long gone. Arbor Day offers an opportunity to plant new seedlings across the country and state. School children and adults participate in Arbor Day, which is dedicated to planting, celebrating and caring for trees, our largest living organisms. Missouri celebrates Arbor Day the first Friday in April, and National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April. Learn more about Arbor Day and how you can help trees in this week's Discover Nature Note.
MOREL HUNTING: They can be harder to find than an Easter egg, but morel mushrooms are worth the time and effort to find. They seem to pop up overnight in late spring. Morels can be found in moist woods, river bottoms and on south-facing slopes. Try searching near dead elm trees, in old orchards or burned areas. Remember to properly identify morels, like any wild edible, before consuming. Learn about morel mushrooms, what makes mushrooms edible, and watch a recipe for morel polenta in this week's Discover Nature Note.
The Creature with a Mobile Home: It's always on the move and brings it's home along too! It is both common and unusual. Its mouth is on the bottom of its foot. It has a foot but no leg. It leaves a trail wherever it goes. This mobile critter has a lot of mechanical features with special attachments. See if you can guess the identity of this ancient creature found all over the world in this week's Discover Nature Note.
FROG CHORUS: You can hear their chorus rising up on warm, rainy spring nights. From backyards to wetlands, frogs create a symphony of spring sound. Learn the notes of the spring peeper and western chorus frog in this week's Discover Nature Note. Frogs are also quite tasty and fishable. Learn some basics to Frogging 101 and about the adventure of fishing for frogs.
You've likely seen them along the water, perching perfectly still with long legs and an "S" shaped neck. You may have seen them quickly snag a fish. Few people have seen where they nest and have young. Herons build nests in colonies, usually high up in mature sycamore trees along streams. Look for several large nests grouped in a single tree. This time of year, you will see them flying around as they build, repair, and protect the nests. Learn more about herons and their hood, called "rookeries" in this week's Discover Nature Note.