Get Outside in February

By MDC | February 1, 2024
From Missouri Conservationist: February 2024

Dalton Happenings: February

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 12:30–1 p.m.

Online only

Registration required by Feb. 6. To register, call 888-283-0364 or visit

All ages

Come join us for an inside look at what staff do to keep the range up and running! We will let you know about programs we have done and programs coming up. We will take you to a part of the range and show you how we take care of things from the target frames to filling the trap and skeet machines. This is a monthly series we are doing for our shooters and visitors. You will receive a link to log on the morning of the program.

One-Way Ticket North

If you hear a distant-sounding chorus of squawking yips in the evening, look up. You might be hearing snow geese flying high overhead. They overwinter in Missouri and migrate northward February through April. Their white plumage reflects lights from cities and makes their V-shaped flocks look silvery against the night sky. It’s a sight and sound to behold.

Sweetheart Salamanders

February is for love, but that doesn’t just apply to humans. Salamanders are also looking for love this time of year.

Spotted salamanders breed from late February to mid-March. This activity is triggered by the first warm rains and air temperature at or above 50 degrees. They congregate in fishless woodland ponds. Small-mouthed salamanders also breed starting in late February through early April. Large numbers congregate at ponds, sloughs, or flooded ditches.

For more information on Missouri’s salamanders, visit

Color Crawl

Does winter’s drab landscape have you feeling blue? Head outside and go on a color crawl! Nature has some hidden gems of color — even in winter — if you know where to look.

  • Coralberry, or buckbrush, is not a favorite food of most animals, but its pink berries are a bright spot for hikers in the winter woods. 
  • Harbinger of spring is one of Missouri’s earliest-blooming wildflowers. Though often overlooked due to its small size, the clusters of white flowers with prominent dark reddish-brown anthers are a delight. Look for it in bottomland forests and moist upland forests, mostly in ravines and valleys, protected areas at the bases of wooded slopes, and along streams and rivers.
  • Early saxifrage is one of Missouri’s earliest-blooming wildflowers. The tight clusters of white flowers appear at the top of leafless stalks. You will think spring has sprung!

For more color hiding in winter’s wonderland, check out MDC’s online Field Guide at

Groundhog Day

Woodchucks — or groundhogs — start to emerge from hibernation in Missouri as early as the first week of February. If you happen to see one, chances are it is an adult male. Adult males tend to emerge from hibernation before females and younger males, searching for food and mates. 

Today’s legend says if the groundhog sees its shadow on Feb. 2, we’ll have six more weeks of winter. No shadow means an early spring. The gist of this is, if it’s sunny on this day, we’ll have six more weeks of winter. Old time Ozarkers had Feb. 14 as the magical day, not Feb. 2.

Experience More

Want to have fun outdoors, learn about conservation, gain skills, and make happy memories? MDC hosts programs and events statewide—in-person and online. Visit MDC Events to find these programs and more:

  • Native plants and landscaping
  • Eagle Days
  • Hunting and outdoor skills
  • Nocturnal animals
  • Guided walks and hikes

Go to to register for an event near you.

Natural Events to See This Month

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

  • Yellow-bellied sapsuckers drill holes in trees.
  • Opossums mate and bear young.
  • Spring peepers begin calling.

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 – Marcia Hale