Into The Wild

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From Xplor: September/October 2019

Rivers in northern Missouri are muddier than those found farther south. So tug on some rubber boots before exploring these mucky animal magnets.

Did You Know?

Before starting a family, belted kingfishers find a steep riverbank near a good fishing hole. There, using nothing but their pointy beaks, they dig a long burrow in which to lay their eggs.


If you surprise a female wood duck while exploring a creek, listen for her shrill ooh-eek, ooheek, ooh-eek call as she flies away.

Take a Closer Look

Green herons often stalk along stream edges, hunting for fish. Watch a heron long enough and you might see an interesting behavior. The wily birds are known to use bait — insects, feathers, or twigs — to lure jittery fish into striking range.

What Happened Here?

This is the front door to a beaver’s den. The buck-toothed builders usually construct dens out of mounded up branches. But in northern rivers, they’re just as likely to burrow into muddy stream banks to make a home.


Beavers slap their tails against the water’s surface — SMACK! — to warn family members that there’s danger nearby.


Logjams offer the perfect place for turtles to crawl out of the cool water and soak up some sunshine. See if you can spot these sun-loving species.

Do More

Several kinds of catfish swim in Missouri’s northern streams. Bait a hook with something stinky, and you’re bound to catch one of these whiskered snacks.

Did You Know?

Every inch of a catfish’s skin is covered with taste buds. This helps it find food in dark, murky water.

Did You Know

What Happened Here? This is the entrance to a crayfish house. Crayfish tunnel down into soggy ground to stay cool and wet. As they dig, they roll mud into little round blobs. The clawful crustaceans stack the blobs at the surface to form muddy chimneys.

Also In This Issue

Grey Squirrel
Meet a few of Missouri’s mighty oaks and the critters that crave their acorns.

This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White