From Xplor for Kids
September 2016 Issue


Persimmons ripening in fall leaf litter
Although ripe persimmons offer a sweet treat, one bite of an unripe persimmon will make you pucker.

Into The Wild

Publish Date

Sep 01, 2016

Into the Fall Forest

Before winter’s whiteness drifts in, Missouri’s trees paint our state with dazzling colors. But pretty leaves aren’t the only things you’ll find in a fall forest.

Take a Closer Look

Did that bit of bark just move? No, you’ve likely spotted a tiny forest bird called a brown creeper. Creepers fly to the bottom of a tree and spiral up the trunk, around and around, snapping up insects as they go. When they reach the top, they fly down to a new tree and start the dizzying climb again.

Did You Know?

The orange and yellow colors that leaves display in autumn are there all the time, you just can’t see them. A green colored substance called chlorophyll (klor-o-fill) covers up other colors most of the time. Chlorophyll has an important job. It uses sunlight to make food for the tree. But when days get shorter in the fall, leaves quit making chlorophyll. The green fades away, allowing orange and yellow colors to shine.


If you find a tree with knobby black bark, look up. You’ll probably see orange, golf-ball-sized fruits hanging from its branches. Persimmons taste yummy — if they’re ripe. If they aren’t, one bite will make your mouth pucker like you drank a whole jar of pickle juice. When a persimmon is slightly squishy, it’s ready to eat.

Where to Go

The Show-Me State’s forests turn showiest in mid-October when oaks and hickories blaze with color. To plan a leaf-peeping adventure, check out fall color reports at Then, head to one of these fine forests:

  1. Poosey Conservation Area
  2. Three Creeks Conservation Area
  3. Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center
  4. Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center
  5. Angeline Conservation Area
  6. 6. Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area

What Happened Here?

Owls eat their prey whole. Once the unlucky victim lands in the bird’s belly, its soft, meaty parts are quickly digested. Bones, fur, and teeth — which are too hard to digest — are barfed up a few hours later as a hairy gray pellet.

Did You Know?

In the fall, chipmunks have just one thought in their furry little heads: storing food for winter. The hardcore hoarders forage on the forest floor, stuffing their cheeks like grocery sacks so they can scurry home and stash their loot. A single chipmunk may pack its winter pantry with enough seeds and nuts to fill nine 2-liter soda bottles.

Heads Up!

Deer season starts in the fall. Be respectful of hunters and wear hunter orange when you’re in the woods.


Katydids are green, shaped like leaves, and active at night — they’re basically invisible. To help a mate find them, males “sing” by scraping the smooth edge of one wing against the rough surface of another. Some katydids say their name when they sing. Others sound a bit like a sprinkler: pssst ... pssst ... pssst. Listen for them in treetops from early fall until the first hard frost.

Also in this issue

Monarch Butterfly

Get Out!

Don’t miss the chance to discover nature at these fun events!

Bear cubs cradled by researchers.

Into the Woods With a Bear Researcher

Jeff Beringer studies bears. Maybe because his last name starts with “Ber?” Or maybe because studying bears in the woods is fun, surprising, and important? Let’s ask him!

bobolink on barbed wire

Masters of Migration

More than 300 kinds of birds can be seen in Missouri, and over half of them migrate.

Predator Vs. Prey: White Pelican vs. Gizzard Shad

The struggle to survive isn't always a fair fight: White Pelican vs. Gizzard Shad

Strange but True

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

Boy shooting a home made bow

How To: Build a Bow

You don’t need an expensive bow to practice archery. Here’s how to make one for less than $5 using plumbing pipe.

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

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