Discover Nature Notes

The Masked Bandit of the Night

Jan 08, 2018

They are stealthy, savvy and hard to outsmart. Campsites and backyards are common scenes for their night raids.   Raccoons are furbearers with an amazing ability to break into containers and garbage cans.  Their long fingers on their front paws are perfect for picking locks and latches.  They also have an uncanny ability to remember these feats and mimic them from watching each other.  Learn more about raccoons and their special skills and value in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Big, Bold and Bald

Jan 01, 2018

With a piercing call, talons, and yellow eyes, bald eagles are fierce predators. Adults have large white-feathered heads that make them easy to spot in flight. Bald eagles fly high in Missouri skies and low along big waterways.  These birds of prey can see farther and perceive more colors than the human eye.  Bald eagles can spot a fish, their favored food, a mile away.  They soar along warm air currents with wings spanning seven feet.  Winter is a great time to start a New Year's tradition watching bald eagles in action.  Learn more about our nation's symbol, the best places to view them, and where you can catch them up close at an Eagle Days event in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Bald Eagle over water

Intoxicated Wildlife

Dec 26, 2017

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.

Cedar Waxwing with berry

The Holiday Tree Thief

Dec 18, 2017

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.


Roadside Divers and Diners

Dec 11, 2017

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.

American kestrel on the ground

Missouri's Spicy Evergreen

Dec 04, 2017

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.

Eastern Red Cedar tree draped in snow

Celebrating 40 Years of Natural Areas

Nov 27, 2017

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.

Castor River Shut-Ins

The Thanksgiving Turkey

Nov 20, 2017

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

Nov 13, 2017

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. Scoll down to the media gallery and watch an action packed video, and see photos and sounds of your favorite ducks.

Wood Duck

Why Healthy Deer Matter and How You Can Help

Nov 06, 2017

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.

deer hidden


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