Can you guess this month's natural wonder?
Conservation areas offer an escape from crowded cities and light pollution.
Grab your solar eclipse-approved shades and head to one of our 54 conservation areas that lie in the path of this once-in-a-lifetime event. While there, you can enjoy regular outdoor activities — such as fishing, hiking, and wildlife watching — in a far-from-regular way when the moon passes in front of the sun. The eclipse will also bring a rare chance for those watching wildlife to catch out-of-the-ordinary behaviors.
“As the sky becomes darker during the eclipse, some birds may become confused by the lack of light and could exhibit odd behaviors such as going quiet, thinking that night is falling,” said State Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick.
Many of the MDC areas offer an escape from crowded cities and light pollution, and all the recommended areas have restrooms for visitor convenience. While all areas are free to access and open to the public, some may require visitors to obtain a special-use permit for group camping.
For an interactive map of the eclipse’s path across Missouri, approximate times to watch, a full list of recommended conservation areas for viewing, and details on each area, visit mdc.mo.gov/eclipse.
Some conservation area map locations approximate due to space constraints.
A deer-feeding ban went into effect July 1 for residents of 41 counties that are part of the department’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zone. The goal of the expanded feeding ban is to help limit the spread of CWD. Not feeding deer is a simple step anyone can take to help prevent the spread of disease.
“CWD is spread both directly from deer to deer or indirectly from contaminated food, water, or soil, and the potential for transmission increases when deer gather in larger, concentrated numbers,” said MDC Wildlife Disease Coordinator Jasmine Batten. “Feeding deer or placing minerals for deer unnaturally concentrates the animals and can help spread the deadly disease.”
According to the Wildlife Code of Missouri, the placement of grain, salt products, minerals, and other consumable natural and manufactured products used to attract deer is prohibited year-round within counties in the CWD Management Zone. This regulation does not pertain to food plots.
“Feed is different than a food plot because artificial feed is typically continually replaced,” Batten said. “Food plots typically cover a much larger area where the food source is more spread out and once consumed, it is not replaced over and over again.”
The 41 counties affected by this regulation include Adair, Barry, Benton, Boone, Callaway, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dade, Franklin, Gasconade, Hickory, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage, Ozark, Polk, Putnam, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington.
Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q: I love feeding the hummingbirds every spring. I notice they disappear for a while and return. Where do they go?
A. The absence of ruby-throated hummingbirds in late May and early June is normal. In fact, fluctuation in feeder attendance is to be expected. Depending on where in the state you live, the arrival and departure of breeding and migratory hummingbirds varies.
In spring, a surge of northbound migrants use nectar at the feeders. Once the migrants pass through Missouri, the crowd tapers off, leaving the state’s breeding summer residents — a sizeable population in Missouri’s wooded landscape.
Males are fiercely territorial, defending feeders and flowers for the females to use during the spring nesting season. But nesting females don’t visit the feeders often. Rather, they spend their time hunting insects to feed their newly hatched nestlings.
After the young fledge in early July, more birds gather at the feeders once again.
As southern migration commences in late summer and early fall, the number of resident hummingbirds may decline. Adult males are the first to depart, heading out in early July. Females and the young follow. Backyard feeders serve as welcome pit stops, offering birds a place to rest and refuel. Feeder visits will reflect this as the flow of southbound migrants through Missouri increases, peaking around Labor Day.
The crowd gradually tapers off until the last hummingbird straggles through in mid-October.
Q: Is it true waterfowl sometimes deposit fish eggs in other water bodies, essentially moving them from one place to another?
A: We’re not aware of any credible research proving this might happen. There is evidence of waterfowl moving seeds and some wetland invertebrates, but we have not heard of fish eggs being transported.
The digestive process that fish eggs would experience in a bird’s gut would be fatal. It may be possible for a bird to move fish eggs stuck to its foot or in vegetation it’s carrying, but it’s unlikely. When fish appear in an unstocked pond, it is usually the result of intentional stockings or wild fish moving upstream or downstream in a watershed during wet periods.
Q: We found this 3-foot snake with blue eyes in our front yard, sunning itself. We were wondering what causes its eyes to be blue, and if this affects its vision?
A: This eastern yellow-bellied racer is about to shed its skin, including the layer over the eye. As the skin loosens and fluid builds between the old and new layers, the shedding gives the eye a blue coloration. The process takes one to two weeks and can render the snake nearly blind.
Snakes shed their skin periodically as they grow. During the active season, young snakes usually shed once every four to five weeks. Adults may shed every six to eight weeks.
Plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) is an annual flowering plant that blooms from June through September. Its yellow flowers with red-brown centers emerge from large branches, dotted with narrow leaflets about 4 inches long. The plains coreopsis grows naturally in prairies and glades, reaching 2 to 4 feet tall. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Plains coreopsis is the perfect addition to your native garden, and it is sure to attract butterflies and other pollinators.
Fishin’ in the Dark. It’s not just a hit single by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It’s a time-honored tradition of die-hard anglers who love to fish but want to escape the summertime heat. Before you grab your equipment and head for the nearest body of water, consider these safety tips for an enjoyable night under the stars:
Many species of fish are in season. For possession limits, valid permit information, and legal methods, check the Wildlife Code of Missouri, or visit short.mdc.mo.gov/ZiL.
By Bill Graham
The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF) is celebrating 20 years of helping Missourians enhance natural resources and outdoor education. Formed in 1997, MCHF is a nonprofit charitable organization working with MDC and other partners to benefit Missouri’s outdoors. From hunting programs for military veterans with special needs to battling feral hogs or invasive plants in natural areas, MCHF provides a helping hand via grants.
“Our state’s conservation legacy and the department exist because of the support of citizens and partners,” said Jennifer Battson Warren, MDC deputy director. “The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation is a fantastic partner because they connect generous individuals and philanthropic organizations with projects that memorialize donors’ conservation values. These projects provide improved opportunities for citizens to experience Missouri’s rich outdoor heritage.”
MCHF has provided more than $20 million for conservation projects such as stream corridor protections, helping youth learn how to hunt or fish, prairie restoration, or making hunting and fishing areas accessible for those with mobility challenges. Funding sources for MCHF include donations and grants. In addition, MCHF receives funds from the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund, which is funded by voluntary mitigation payments made for alterations to streams.
“We advance conservation and the appreciation of forest, fish, and wildlife resources by applying financial resources,” said Kevin Roper, MCHF executive director. “We collaborate with donors and other partners to provide this kind of support throughout the state.”
Going forward, MCHF plans to emphasize youth education, conserving endangered species and species of conservation concern, and helping veterans enjoy the outdoors. MCHF also recognizes conservation legends via the National Lewis and Clark Conservation Awards.
This spring, in partnership with MDC, MCHF hosted 2,100 competitors from 127 schools at the Missouri National Archery in Schools state championship tournament in Branson. Foundation grants also pay for equipment and costs for community youth hunting and fishing events. Grants help schools develop outdoor classrooms. MCHF supports Discover Nature — Girls Camps where girls learn shooting, fishing, and nature interpretive skills.
Pollinator species and birds benefit as well. MCHF was awarded a $250,000 grant in 2016 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for monarch butterfly conservation. The grant will be paired with nearly $566,608 in matching funds from partners working on habitat and educational programs to benefit monarchs. MCHF partners with a Honduran ecotourism company to raise funds for habitat protections for neotropical migratory birds, species that nest in Missouri forests during summer but overwinter in Central or South America. In Missouri, MCHF provides funds for feral hog eradication. The organization also provides numerous small grants, such as money for nature centers to battle invasive plants.
MCHF grants support Wounded Warrior Hunts, which are designed specifically for veterans with disabilities. Grants helped purchase all-terrain track chairs that carry hunters and anglers afield.
A volunteer board of directors and a small professional staff manage MCHF in close partnership with MDC. The foundation is well-aimed toward the future, said Carroll Wilkerson of Columbia, chair of the MCHF Board of Directors.
“If someone has a passion for the outdoors, and if they want to make a donation or leave part of their estate for the betterment of the outdoors, they can utilize the foundation,” Wilkerson said.
Russ and Lynn Giron of Lee’s Summit lost their son, Nathan Giron, 18, in a tragic auto accident. Because he enjoyed fishing, they honored his memory by making a donation to MCHF, which enabled a grant making it possible to give away 300 new fishing rods andreels at the 2016 National Hunting and Fishing Day activities at MDC’s James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area.
“Your passion for conservation can reach through time to make a difference when you make a planned gift,” said Jan Syrigos, MCHF communications specialist. “We are the nonprofit that is dedicated to supporting the most crucial of conservation efforts in Missouri.”
We recharge our cell phones, tablets, and computers when they start running slowly, but what about ourselves? We also need to shut down and reboot to clear our systems of too much stuff, including the stresses of technology.
Our world of nonstop screen time and even artificial lighting throws off our internal clock, or circadian rhythm. This can lead to lack of adequate sleep or poor-quality sleep. As a result, our health suffers, performance at work and school suffers, accidents increase, and energy decreases.
One simple solution can make all the difference — a weekend of camping.
Turning off technology and turning onto nature can have positive effects on our health and well-being. Research from the University of Colorado–Boulder found that just a weekend away in the woods sleeping under the stars (without technology) can reset our internal clocks, resulting in better sleep both during and after the mini-vacation.
Want to start your getaway? Visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Z4V to find MDC campsites near you.
Visit the Conservation Building from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia Aug. 10–20. See live fish and other native animals such as snakes, turtles, and amphibians. Learn about and see displays of native plants that help butterflies and other important pollinators. Ask questions of MDC staff, get educational materials, and have fun.
Don’t miss our air-conditioned Conservation Kids’ Discovery Room between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for hands-on fun discovering nature through crafts and other activities.
Enjoy these free conservation-related programs at our outdoor pavilion:
Learn more about MDC programs, events, and other offerings at mdc.mo.gov.
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber
Art Director - Cliff White
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler