Animal winter camouflage

January 20, 2020

The Iowa world is white in winter, so it makes sense that animals would want to blend in with their seasonal surroundings. Some animals have natural coloring that allows them to hide well in winter, whereas some animals change their colors to keep hidden from predators. Jackrabbit Jackrabbits used to…

Photo of a baby hedgehog

Five differences between hedgehogs and porcupines

January 15, 2020

Many people ask if the hedgehog animal ambassador at the Dickinson County Nature Center is related to a porcupine. However, hedgehogs and porcupines aren’t actually related at all. There are 17 different species of hedgehogs, and their closest relations are actually shrews and moles. There are more than two dozen…

Photo of a baby hedgehog

Baby hedgehogs lose their spines

January 13, 2020

Babies lose baby teeth, and so do baby animals — including baby hedgehogs, like the nature center’s animal ambassador Luna. However, hedgehogs also lose something else as they grow — their quills! Baby hedgehogs are born with spines, but at that time their skin is swollen and covers their spines…

Photo of a snowy owl

Family Nature Night talks about winter camouflage

January 10, 2020

The world outside is white, and some animals have also changed color for the season. The first Family Nature Night of 2020 will discuss these changes with its Winter Camouflage theme for the program 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji. Environmental education coordinator…

Owls of Iowa: Barred owl

January 8, 2020

Even without the tufts of the great horned owl, barred owls (Strix varia) still have that classic owl shape and are easily diagnosed as owls from far away. Their haunting black eyes make them a beautiful addition to the owls of Iowa series. Who cooks for you? The barred owl…

Photo of white-tail deer

How animals survive the winter

January 6, 2020

Humans often hole themselves up in their houses to survive the winter in front of the fire with hot chocolate. However, animals have to survive the frigid chill outside in the elements, and they have different ways of dealing with the change in seasons. Let’s take a quick look at…

Photo of child putting item on felt board

Nature Tots continues in 2020

December 26, 2019

Nature stories, live animals, outdoor play — Nature Tots is a hit program at the Dickinson County Nature Center that will return Jan. 8 for the 2020 season. “I think this program has been so well attended because it offers activities families can do together,” said Bryanna Kuhlman, environmental education…

Photo of a barn owl's face

Owls of Iowa: Barn owl

December 23, 2019

  We’ve talked about the large great horned owl, tiny northern saw-whet owl and adorable eastern screech owl, so this week we moved on to the state endangered barn owl. Barn owls are not federally endangered but their populations are low in Iowa. That could be because of habitat loss…

Photo of an egg carton snowman

Egg carton snowman

December 23, 2019

It’s a winter wonderland in Iowa, so we’re celebrating with a recycled snowman craft. Instead of tossing out your empty egg cartons, keep them around for fun crafts on an afternoon when the winter weather is pressing you in. (Check out instructions for an egg carton butterfly here). To make…

Photo of white-tail deer

How deer survive the winter

December 23, 2019

When walking through deep snow, it’s always easier when someone else leads. That person gets tired breaking the trail, but everyone who walks in his or her footsteps has an easier time of it. That is one reason that deer congregate during the winter. When they all use the same…

Photo of naturalists reading a story

Join us for storytime!

December 20, 2019

A new monthly program begins Jan. 4 at the Dickinson County Nature Center. Storytime with a Naturalist premieres at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, at the nature center in Okoboji, part of the 2020 program lineup. “Since we’re open on Saturdays now, I thought it would be fun for families…

Photo of an eastern screech owl

Owls of Iowa: Eastern screech owl

December 18, 2019

They are called the eastern screech owl (Megascops asio), but that doesn’t mean all you’ll hear from them is screeches. Typically, these small owls only screech when they are defending their nest or fledglings. Otherwise, you will hear a variety of calls, including trills, whinnies, hoots and barks. They even…

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