News and updates from MDC
Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?
With our big rivers, many lakes, and abundant wetlands, Missouri is one of the leading lower 48 states for eagle viewing. Get out this December through February and enjoy these magnificent birds on your own or at one of MDC’s Eagle Days events, located around the state.
Each fall, thousands of eagles migrate south from their nesting range in Canada and the Great Lakes states to hunt in the Show-Me State. Eagles take up residence wherever they find open water and plentiful food. More than 2,000 bald eagles are typically reported in Missouri during winter. MDC Eagle Days events are listed below. Events include live captive-eagle programs, exhibits, activities, videos, and guides with spotting scopes. Watch for eagles perched in large trees along the water’s edge. View them early in the morning to see eagles flying and fishing. Be sure to dress for winter weather and don’t forget cameras and binoculars.
Mark your calendar for Wild Webcast: Bald Eagles
and Eagle Days Dec. 4 from noon to 1 p.m. Join MDC
Resource Scientist Janet Haslerig and Media Specialist
Dan Zarlenga as they discuss bald eagles and the perennially
popular MDC Eagle Days events. To register, visit
Got a Question for Ask MDC? Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q: Hawks can be challenging to identify. How can I tell the difference between Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks?
A. With their steely blue-gray coloring above and reddish bars below, adult Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii) and sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus) not only resemble one another, they also have similar habits. Even expert birders don’t always have a definite answer. But with a careful eye, it’s possible to notice some differences.
Here are a few clues:
Q: I’ve noticed many severed branches under some of the cedar trees on my property. Can you tell me what animal is causing this?
A. It’s likely a squirrel. Late winter is the most critical time for squirrels because much of the nut crop has been depleted and new spring growth has made little progress. Bark, immature buds, juniper berries, and even twigs are taken as emergency foods.
A closer look at the buds may reveal the centers have been eaten out. Rather than just eating the buds, these rodents prefer to first prune the branch tip from the tree, eat the bud, then discard the branch. As the squirrel continues to dine, the branch tips pile up on the ground below.
Present in Missouri from October through April, purple finches (Haemorhous purpureus) are common in cities and towns, around farms, and in suburban areas, foraging on the ground or in trees. They frequent bird feeders in large flocks, especially in winter, in search of sunflower and millet seeds. Males are raspberry red, with brown-streaked wings, while females are heavily streaked with brown feathers.
If you’re looking for a way to stay afield as deer season winds down, try trapping. Furbearer numbers are high in Missouri, and trapping is one way to help manage those populations.
Trappers need a permit, available through local vendors, online at mdc.mo.gov/permits, or through MDC’s free MO Hunting app. Trappers are required to affix their name, address, or conservation ID number permanently to each trap set. Traps should be checked within a 24- to 48-hour window, depending on species. If you harvest an otter or bobcat, it must be tagged by an agent no later than April 10. For more information, consult A Summary of Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations booklet or visit short.mdc.mo.gov/ZpG.
The holidays usher in a season of family, friends, and lots of food. Baked goods — particularly cookies — make it to the top of the list.
Here we feature two different kinds of cookies that incorporate Missouri’s wholesome, hearty nuts. These are sure to be crowd pleasers!
Makes about 10 dozen cookies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream butter, vanilla, and sugar thoroughly.
In another bowl, mix flour, soda, and salt.
Combine dry and wet ingredients, adding walnuts last.
Shape* into rolls, seal tightly, and refrigerate overnight.
Slice about ¹⁄3-inch thick and bake on ungreased baking sheets 15 to 20 minutes or until bottoms are nicely browned.
Four rolls yield smaller cookies — about an inch across. You could make fewer rolls and, consequently, larger cookies; however, they are very rich and the one-bite
size seems perfect.
Makes 2 to 3 dozen bars.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9- by 12- inch pan, line it with parchment paper, and butter the paper.
Combine nuts and dates in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon flour and mix with fingers until dates are coated and mixed with nuts. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat eggs, add sugar gradually, and continue beating until fluffy. Sift together remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add to egg mixture and stir until well mixed. Stir dates and nuts into the batter.
Spread over parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes or until cake rebounds to the touch when pressed gently in the center.
Cool slightly, turn gently out of pan, and cut the longer dimension into 1-inch-wide
strips. Then cut each strip into thirds or fourths. Gently dab bars in powdered sugar
while they are still warm.
MDC’s online Nature Shop makes holiday shopping a breeze for anyone interested in nature-themed gifts. Or skip retail stores and visit one of our nature centers in Kirkwood, Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Kansas City, Blue Springs, and Jefferson City for a surprising array of reasonably priced holiday gifts.
Discover nature every day, all year long, with our 2019 Natural Events Calendar, on sale now for $9 plus tax. The annual offering features stunning nature photography and daily notes about wild happenings — and makes a fun and informative holiday gift. The perennially popular calendar measures 10 by 14 inches folded and 20 by 14 open. Along with amazing images of native animals, plants, and places, it also includes phases of the moon, numerous holidays and days of recognition, daily notes about natural events, and more.
The 2019 Natural Events Calendar and other offerings are available at MDC nature centers and regional offices, through our online Nature Shop at mdcnatureshop.com, or by calling 877-521-8632. Customers can get a 15 percent discount using their MDC Heritage Card or Permit Card.
MDC encourages experienced birders to become citizen scientists by helping with the National Audubon Society’s 119th Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5, which includes about 20 counts in Missouri.
The CBC is an early-winter bird census where thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada, and many countries in the Western Hemisphere go out over a 24-hour period on one calendar day to count birds. Christmas Bird Counts are held annually to gather data on winter bird populations and to track the longterm status of species and large-scale trends. Each CBC has a coordinator that assigns portions of a 15-mile diameter count circle to participants to count all birds seen and heard.
For more information, visit tinyurl.com/ybropbvq.
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