CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Bio Blitz at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center is the perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of what conservation biologists do. The free event will be held Saturday, May 6, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and participants will explore the nature center grounds to gauge the area’s biodiversity.
“Biodiversity is a big word for ‘lots of different kinds of plants, bugs and animals’,” said Bridget Jackson, MDC education consultant. “We learn a lot about the health of an environment by how many different species live in the area.”
This event will also help to connect participants with wildlife and plants that live in their own backyards and neighborhoods, and focus on species of conservation concern, such as invasive and exotic species.
“We want to introduce people to the idea of ‘citizen science’ by showing how they can help scientists by being observant and recording data,” Jackson said. “We also hope to illustrate how all of these things can be done while enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.”
Jackson said there will be various searches throughout the day as participants look for birds, insects, plants, aquatic plants, aquatic insects, trees, and peek under a log to see what lives there. A group of experts will be available to assist with identification guides and sampling equipment.
“Participants will be working alongside and learning from biologists,” she said. “We’ll also have information about citizen science websites to demonstrate how observations made at this event and in someone’s own backyard can help scientists across the county.”
Self-guided activities at the event include a binocular basics station, a tree identification maze, a bird camera, and a spotting scope set up to view nature center bird feeders up close. Jackson said no previous experience is required for this event and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to the insect treks, where we will go and identify aquatic and terrestrial insects we find around the nature center grounds,” Jackson said. “Although the naturalists leading the bird and plant treks would probably say their treks are the best, people can expect an amazing opportunity to talk with experts in their fields about birds, plants, and insects while in a fun setting.”
Because of the bird portions of this event, it is a qualifying event for Our Big Year, the center’s ongoing birding event featuring species counts and contests. Call (573)290-5218 to register for this event. More information about Bio Blitz and other programs at the nature center can be found at mdc.mo.gov/CapeNatureCenter