Get Outside in April

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

I’m Home

Cliff swallows arrive in April and return, in many cases, to the colony of their birth. Their clusters of juglike mud nests are attached to overpasses, bridges, culverts, barns, and cliffs. In spring, these birds gather around rural mud puddles, where they roll little bits of mud into a ball and fly off, carrying it in their mouth to the nearby nest they are constructing.

The State Flower

Hawthorns are shrubs or small trees that bloom from April to June. The hawthorn’s white flowers grow in clusters and resemble small apple blossoms. There are more than 75 types of hawthorns in Missouri, including our official state flower, the downy hawthorn.

Missouri is no Shrinking Violet

Missouri is home to 17 species of violets and April is their month! Get outside and see how many you can find. Here’s a hint — don’t just look at their blooms. Study their leaves as well. Also, use MDC’s Field Guide as your resource. There is a full page dedicated just to violets —

Morel Madness

It’s morel mushroom season in Missouri, so get ready to hear that infamous question — “Finding any?” Morels are choice edible mushrooms that are difficult to spot but are not hard to learn to identify. Missouri has three kinds of morel mushrooms — black, yellow, and half-free.

  • Black morels usually only reach a few inches high. Some observers have noted they often come out a little earlier than the yellow morels.
  • Yellow morels can sometimes get huge, up to a foot high and 6 inches thick.
  • Half-free morels occur scattered in mixed woods, and they usually pop up before the other morels.

Where Can I Hunt for Mushrooms?

Wednesday, April 10 • 12–12:30 p.m.

Online only

Registration required by April 9. Call 888-283-0364 or visit

All ages

It is morel mushroom season. We will discuss not only morels but the life cycle of other mushrooms, habitat, and locations where to look as well as rule and regulations.

Veterans’ Free Fishing Day

Saturday, April 20 • 7 a.m.–3 p.m.

Bennett Spring Fish Hatchery, 26142 Hwy. 64A, Lebanon, MO 65536

Registration not required. For more information, contact Ben Havens at or call the hatchery at 417-532-4418.

All ages

At Veterans’ Fishing Day, fishing is free for veterans only. There is no license or daily tag fee. All veterans can pick up free trout tags at the park store on the Friday evening before or anytime on Saturday during the event.

During the event, part of the park’s Zone 2 fishing area will be specially stocked and reserved for anglers who are veterans. Adjacent to the fishing area, volunteers will be hosting a hospitality tent featuring fly-tying demos, lessons, casting instruction, and the latest adaptive fishing equipment.

If you are interested in trout fishing, come out and fish with one of our heroes. Many volunteers will be on hand to show you the ropes. Practice with some of the casting games on the lawn or tie up a fly.

Find more events in your area at

Reconnect with Nature

Adventure can happen anywhere. Download the free MO Outdoors app for great places to see nature near you.

Natural Events to See This Month

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

  • Male leopard frogs call at sunset.
  • Gartersnakes become active.
  • Black bears become active again.
  • Gooseberry flowers provide nectar for springtime insects.
  • Giant swallowtails begin to appear in April.

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