Discover Nature Notes

Salamander Sway for Valentines Day

Feb 12, 2018

Salamander Sway For Valentines Day: The song "Sway", first made popular by Dean Martin, would choreograph well with the ritual water dance of spotted salamanders. Shortly after Valentine's Day, on the first warm rains of late winter/early spring, hundreds will gather in ponds and sway and swim with a marimba type rhythm. It can look like a flash mob during this brief window of their breeding season. Learn more about spotted and other salamanders in this week's Discover Nature Note.-- Peg@MDC

Drawing of spotted salamander

Winter Wildlife Games

Feb 05, 2018

WINTER WILDLIFE GAMES: While humans compete for sport and honor at the Olympics, Missouri's wildlife are busy hunting, playing and competing for survival. They can be seen performing feats of strength, speed and endurance throughout the Show Me State. Learn more about the competitive skills of Missouri wildlife and see a video of them in action in this week's Discover Nature Notes.

coyote in snow

Groundhogs and their Day

Jan 29, 2018

With their own holiday and the most watched weather forecast of the year, groundhogs have reigned through folklore as a predictor of how much winter is left in the season. In some places, people gather to see if they will see their shadow on February 2. A lesser known fact about groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, is that they are also excellent home builders. Learn more about groundhogs as well as the answer to the age old question of "how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Groundhog weather cartoon

Night Sounds: Owls

Jan 22, 2018

They might hoot or holler, make a soft whinny, or even repeat your call. Owls are fascinating creatures of the night and their calls can help you identify them. Winter is the best time to hear and see owls which are usually active after dark. Learn more about these nocturnal predators and their environmental benefit in this week's Discover Nature Note.

great horned owl

Outdoor Winter Adventures

Jan 15, 2018

OUTDOOR WINTER ADVENTURES:  If you're having cabin fever, looking for ways to get fit, or spend time with family and friends, consider heading outdoors this season.  There's a lot to see and do during the winter in the Show Me state.  You can find out how and where to try out three different outdoor adventures in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Hickory Canyons in snow

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


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