You Discover

By Written by Matt Seek | April 1, 2012
From Xplor: April/May 2012

April and May are Goldilocks months—not too hot nor too cold. Wildflowers pop up, songbirds migrate, and fish finally find their appetites. Here are just a few things to discover.


Go on a turtle safari

Every spring for eons, turtles have awoken from their winter sleep and plodded or paddled across Missouri’s hills and waterways to search for warm places to bask. This makes April the perfect month for a turtle safari. Watch for box turtles trudging across roads, search streams for river cooters, and check each log in a lake for painted turtles. See how many of Missouri’s 17 kinds of turtles you can spot. For a turtle-riffic guide to Missouri’s shelliest reptiles, visit

Go fish!

Some people call them panfish because they’re the perfect size to fry in a pan. Others call them sunfish because they display bright colors during spawning season. Whatever you call them, fish such as bluegill are perfect for beginning anglers because they’re easy to catch—all you need is a pole, line, hook and worm—and they live in nearly every pond in Missouri. Cast a line this spring, and if you catch your first fish, celebrate the event by printing a certificate at

Peer at Peregrines

Peregrine (pair-uh-grin) falcons are nature’s quickest creatures. When diving through the sky to catch prey, falcons free fall faster than 200 miles per hour. Now, a live webcam offers a bird’s-eye peek at the lives of these blisteringly fast birds. To watch a pair of peregrines nest and raise their chicks atop a building in St. Louis, swoop over to

Search for lost ladybugs

Help! North America’s ladybugs are disappearing from places where they were once quite common. Scientists think lady beetles from other places, such as Asia, are crowding out our hometown ladybugs. They’re asking kids to join the Lost Ladybug Project and search for ladybugs. This will help scientists find out where native ladybugs still exist and where foreign ladybugs are popping up. To learn more, fly away home to

Make a dirt shirt

April showers bring May flowers—and lots of mud. Put that mud to use by making a dirt shirt. Ask your parents for a clean white T-shirt and some vinegar. Find some thick mud, scoop it into a cup, and pour in vinegar until the mud feels like pudding. Use the mud to paint a design on your shirt. To make the design permanent, let the shirt sit in the sun for at least four hours, rinse the shirt in cold water, clean it in a washing machine, and run it through a hot dryer.

Explore a mini Desert.

Glades are dry, rocky patches of soil clinging to south-facing Ozark hills. They’re also home to some of Missouri’s most interesting animals, including fleet-footed roadrunners, colorful collared lizards and grasshoppers that are camouflaged so superbly they disappear against lichen-covered rocks. If those aren’t reasons enough to visit a glade, in late May a painter’s palette of wildflowers bloom. We’ve listed some great glades to visit at node/17129.

Don't miss the chance to Discover Nature at these fun events.

  • Hug a tree during Missouri’s Arbor Day. Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center, Blue Springs April 7, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. For info, call 816-228-3766
  • Bag a gobbler during Spring Turkey Season. Statewide April 16 to May 6, 2012 For info, visit node/4065
  • Compete in the Outdoor Olympics. Twin Pines Conservation Education Center, Winona May 12, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Register at 573-325-1381
  • Attend nature’s evening Spring Symphony. Runge Conservation Nature Center, Jefferson City April 26, 7–8:30 p.m. Register at 573-526-5544
  • Flock to the nature center to celebrate Migratory Bird Day. Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center May 5, 7 a.m.–4 p.m. For info, call 573-290-5218
  • Looking for more ways to have fun outside? Find out about Discover Nature programs in your area at

What is it?

  • I’m a late bloomer who likes it hot and sunny.
  • The night shift's the right shift to catch drift of my whiff.
  • A rose by any other name wouldn’t be so prim.
  • Catch me while you can. I’m here tonight, gone tomorrow.

Missouri evening primrose blooms from May to August in dry, rocky areas throughout the Show-Me State. Although every plant produces lots of showy yellow flowers, each flower lasts just one day. The blossoms open at night when their sweet-smelling fragrance and nectar attracts moths. The next morning, the flowers wither and drop.

Critter Corner

Belted Kingfisher

You feeling lucky, punk? With blue mohawks and noisy calls, belted kingfishers are the punk rockers of the bird world. Instead of diving off a stage, kingfishers dive into streams beak-first for breakfast. Once a kingfisher nabs a fish, it flies to a perch, flips the fish so it goes down headfirst, then swallows it whole.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Kevin Lanahan
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White
Kipp Woods