Rivers in northern Missouri are muddier than those found farther south. So tug on some rubber boots before exploring these mucky animal magnets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every inch of a catfish’s skin is covered with taste buds. This helps it find food in dark, murky water.
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.
Angie Daly Morfeld
Nichole LeClair Terrill