Get Outside in December

By MDC | December 1, 2022
From Missouri Conservationist: December 2022

Natural Holiday Decorating

If you want to mix in some natural greenery to your holiday decorating, eastern red cedar is a great choice. It is abundant, has a beautiful natural juniper scent, and boughs of female trees are decorated with blue, berrylike fruits, providing a splash of color. To learn more about eastern red cedar, visit

Winter Mushroom Hunt

If you’ve got a taste for mushrooms, you’re in luck — you don’t have to wait for spring! Oyster mushrooms may appear year-round, including in wintertime. These choice edibles grow in clusters on stumps, logs, and trunks of deciduous trees. They fruit especially after a good rain and if weather is mild. A single “oyster log” can refruit several times a season. For more information on oyster mushrooms, visit

Animal Tracks Scavenger Hunt

Don’t let the cold weather lead to cabin fever. The morning after a snowfall, bundle up the kids, get outside, and go for a scavenger hunt. Look for mammal tracks and see who can find the most. To help you on your search, visit

Flittering Reminders of Spring

Although most butterflies and moths overwinter as eggs, caterpillars, or pupae, some species overwinter as adults and may fly around on warm sunny days, even during midwinter. Just one glimpse of these flittering beauties can give you warm thoughts of the coming spring. Some butterflies to look for include mourning cloak, eastern comma, gray comma, question mark, and goatweed leafwing. For more information on Missouri butterflies, visit

Creature Feature: Snowy Owl

Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2–2:30 p.m

Online only

Registration required by Dec. 28

Register at or call 888-283-0364

All ages

Every four years or so, these winter visitors make their way down to Missouri and it is always a treat to see one. Learn all about the behaviors and habits of these beautiful owls. Study our taxidermy mount for an up-close look at the amazing features these owls have that help them to hunt in frigid temperatures.

Wildlife: Feeding Frenzy

Thursday, Dec. 22, 2–2:30 p.m.

Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center

2289 County Park Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

No registration required. For more information, visit or call 573-290-5218

All ages

Discover the importance of Missouri reptiles and amphibians and see what it takes to keep our education animals happy and healthy. Bring your family and watch as we introduce and feed several different reptiles and amphibians.

Find more events in your area at

Christmas Bird Count

Do you know your birds by sight and sound? Do you own lots of warm clothes?

Join the Christmas Bird Count and add to a nationwide citizen science project! There are over 20 Christmas Bird Counts in Missouri alone. If you know your birds well, consider participating.

To learn more, visit

Dress warmly! Take snacks! Birds are awesome!

Natural Events to See This Month

Here’s what’s going on in the natural world.

  • Trumpeter swans visit marshes, lakes, and rivers.
  • Beavers swim under ice.
  • Eastern gartersnakes appear on mild winter days.
  • Rainbow trout are stocked in lakes and streams.
  • Brown recluse spiders hide indoors.

Also In This Issue

Coyote vs trumpeter swan

These photographs from Missouri Conservationist readers are worth well over 1,000 words.

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler