From Xplor for Kids
October 2013 Issue

Strange But True

Publish Date

Oct 01, 2013

Your guide to all the unusual, unique, and unbelievable stuff that goes on in nature.

  • Northern mockingbirds learn new songs throughout their lives. Older birds may have 200 tunes stashed in their song book. With so many to choose from, mockingbirds mix it up and sing a different set of songs in the spring than in the fall.
  • You think you have a messy room? Deer mice foul up their nests so badly with food and droppings, they must move to a new home every few weeks. The mice often use abandoned bird nests and weave plants over the top for a roof.
  • Eastern wood rats have a hoarding habit. If they find a shiny object, they trade it for what they’re carrying and stash the treasures back in their nests. Because of this, campers sometimes find sticks where pocketknives or car keys used to be.
  • Thirteen-lined ground squirrels usually have 13 stripes — seven light stripes and six dark stripes. But some squirrels have more stripes and some have fewer stripes. The squirrels, however, don’t seem to keep count.
  • Yellow-bellied sapsuckers hammer holes in trees to lap up the sweet sap that pours out. The sweet-beaked birds turn sour when other animals try to suck their sap and often chase away hummingbirds, orioles, and other woodpeckers.
  • Hellbenders are homebodies. Missouri’s largest salamanders can live more than 30 years in the wild, but they rarely stray more than a few hundred yards up or downstream from where they were born.
  • Antlers, ahoy! White-tailed deer can swim 13 miles per hour. That’s twice as fast as Michael Phelps, the seemingly superhuman swimmer who has won more Olympic medals than anyone else.

Also in this issue

You Discover

With birds flying south, leaves changing color, and hunting seasons gearing up, there’s plenty to discover in October and November. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Predator vs. Prey: Alligator Gar vs. Wood Duck

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight. Here's what separates nature's winners from its losers.

How To: Tie a Survival Bracelet

Parachute cord is as handy as duct tape when you’re outside. Use it for sewing, fishing, or to lash branches together for a lean-to. Make this survival bracelet, and you’ll always have cord close at hand.

Missouri's Vampire Hunters

This Halloween, you might run into a few vampires while you’re out trick-or-treating. But don’t worry. These make-believe monsters don’t want to suck your blood. They just want candy. Nature, however, isn’t so nice.

Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

Undead humans who hanker for brains? What a bunch of hooey. Zombies aren’t real. Right? Who believes in zombies, anyway? Not us. But still… it pays to be prepared.

Wild Jobs: Mountain Lion CSI Team

When someone spots a big cat, the Mountain Lion CSI (Cat Sighting Investigation) Team goes on alert.

This Issue's Staff:

David Besenger
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White

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