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.
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 xplormo.org/node/17128.
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 mdc.mo.gov/node/10474.
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 mdc.mo.gov/node/16934.
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 lostladybug.org.
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.
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 xplormo.org/ node/17129.
Don't miss the chance to Discover Nature at these fun events.
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.
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.
Nichole LeClair Terrill