MISSOURI NUTS: 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. Watch a video on walnuts and try a recipe for hickory nut sandies in this week's Discover Nature Note.Pictured: Pecan leaves and nuts
PUFFBALLS AND OTHER FALL MUSHROOMS: Mushroom hunting is popular in the spring, but there are many varieties that grow in the fall. Puffballs can release thousands of powdery spores when squished. They're not the same as the classic Star Trek spores, but puffball mushrooms are edible. Learn more in this week’s Discover Nature Note.
THE MARVELOUS MIGHTY MONARCH: Monarch butterflies in Missouri fly to the same forest in Mexico every fall. In the spring they return. Four generations make the round trip. Their migration is truly a natural wonder and navigation marvel. They also have a mighty problem that you can help solve. Learn more in this week's Discover Nature Note.
OUTDOOR COOKING II: Try this recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken from MDC's Campfire Cooks on your next outdoor adventure. It's a fun way to gather around the campfire and create a tasty meal. Learn more campfire tips and outdoor cooking recipes in this week's Discover Nature Notes blog.
COOKING IN THE OUTDOORS: With summer fading and Labor Day approaching, it's a great time for outdoor cooking with family and friends. Whether you're camping, or cooking out in a local park or your own backyard, food always tastes better when prepared outdoors. Check out some time-tested recipes like orange muffins, sweet and sour chicken, carp on a stick, as well as campfire tips and tricks in this week's Discover Nature Note.
Shrimp in Missouri, Who Knew?: Two types of freshwater shrimp can be found in Missouri's lakes and rivers. One is common and one is rare. The Mississippi Grass shrimp is small and transparent. The female pictured is carrying her eggs attached to swimmerets beneath her abdomen. The Ohio shrimp are larger and were harvested along the Mississippi river for food in the 1800's. They are rare today. Missouri's freshwater shrimp are important to fish and other wildlife and may live in the waters where you fish and boat. Learn more about them in this week's Discover Nature Note.
OUR NEED FOR BEES: 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. (Pictured: Common Eastern Bumblebee)
Theater in the Wild: Some of the biggest stars have graced its stage, and swallowed our bugs while singing, but often nature and wildlife have been an inspiring and entertaining part of the show. The Muny opera took shape 100 years ago between two giant oak trees in a natural bowl in Forest Park in St. Louis. Ol' man River Des Peres which runs through it caused early trouble in river city with a flood that washed the orchestra's instruments as far away as Carondelet.
Today, the river runs behind and below the theater offering audiences a chance to view wetland species. The trees surrounding the stage are part of the design for several musicals and are looked after with care. Squirrels, possums or raccoons may appear climbing lighting grids or wandering onto the stage at any moment during a show.
Just as in nature, there are free sets to enjoy the show in the nation's largest, greenest outdoor theater in one of our country's biggest urban parks. Learn more about Forest Park and nature's show in this week's Discover Nature Note.
SPRING IT ON! Some of Missouri's most scenic places are along springs. Springs flow cool and constant from underground sources. Our ten largest springs release more than a billion gallons of water daily. The air around them is cooler and the scenery spectacular for photographs and memories. With fragile environments and cold temps, springs are not geared for swimming, but many flow into Ozark streams with a variety of swimming holes. Learn more about Missouri's most iconic springs and what you can see in and around them in this week's Discover Nature Note.
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.