Posts by kiley

Grackles, blackbirds and starlings don’t like safflower

Photo of a nuthatch at a nut feeder

Dark-eyed juncos have made their way to northwest Iowa to overwinter. Black-capped chickadees are flocking to feeders. White-breasted nuthatches are looking for nuts to get fat and ready for the cold. Food is a constant necessity for birds to survive through Iowa winters. Their feathers are wonderful insulators, but the food is what produces a…

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Venom and barbed hairs: Why tarantulas are actually quite cool

Photo of a tarantula

Spiderwebs. Big black spiders. Furry tarantulas. Halloween decorations are often centered around arachnids — the family of creatures with four pairs of legs that includes spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks — of some sort. (Teach your kids why they should appreciate all nature.) I think it’s just because spiders and their relatives are considered creepy with their many…

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Bats in Iowa: Myths, facts and why we should love them

Photo of a hoary bat

I get odd looks when I tell people that I think bats are cute. This first summer that I worked at the Dickinson County Nature Center, we had a family bring in a little brown bat that they had found on their driveway. They thought the bat was injured because it wasn’t flying away, but…

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Leave behind your nature art

Photo of an arrow made out of acorns

Andy Goldsworthy is an intriguing nature artist who makes art, takes a photo and then leaves his art behind. (See some of Goldsworthy’s art here.) From piles of leaves that look like three-dimensional pits to rocks balanced in arches, his art inspires you to head outside and see what you can make with the items…

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What does Teddy the Turtle eat?

Photo of a turtle in a play wetland

Teddy — named after conservationist former President Theodore Roosevelt — is an ornate box turtle. That means he is an omnivore and will eat both plants and animals, just like humans! See naturalist Ashley Hansen feed Teddy and learn what his favorite foods are in this video! You can also see more Teddy videos on…

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Frogs are the real living dead

Photo of a leopard frog

The title “living dead” is very Halloween-appropriate. And that’s exactly what northern leopard frogs are in the wintertime. Northern leopard frogs are native to northwest Iowa and are aquatic creatures, meaning they live in the water. Like American bullfrogs, which are not native to northern Iowa, northern leopard frogs will hibernate underwater. (See a video…

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The perfect fall craft — a handprint acorn!

Photo of acorn hand craft

‘Tis the season of acorns. Come to Kenue Park and you will see many, many of the tasty morsels that animals like squirrels love to munch on during the winter. That makes an acorn craft the perfect fall activity, one that we did during our Colors of the Wind-themed Nature Tots program in September. The…

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What is the fuzzy stuff on my oak leaves?

Photo of a woolly oak leaf gall

You picked up a brown bur oak leaf and get grossed out that it looks like it’s molding. But those fuzzy spots on the leaf aren’t mold; in fact, they’re galls. A gall is a growth on a plant that develops due to insects that majority of the time. A female gallmaker insect — of which…

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