Seven differences between osprey and bald eagles

November 15, 2017

When people see the large nest inside the Dickinson County Nature Center and the big raptors on the outdoor nest during the summer, they often think they are bald eagles. Many people don’t realize that after being extirpated in Iowa, osprey populations have started to make a comeback in the…

Photo of headbands with pipe cleaner antenna

Be a bee! Learn how to make your own antenna

November 13, 2017

After Halloween, has your child been begging you to let him or her wear his or her costume again? Do they want to dress up every day? Here’s a fun craft to make that might curb their dressing up craving — bee antenna. You’ll need: A headband Four pipe cleaners…

Photo of a snake sticking out its tongue

Feeding the nature center snakes

November 13, 2017

The naturalists make sure to wash their hands after handling the mice before picking up the snakes. They don’t want the snakes to associate people with food or being let out of their enclosures with food either so that they don’t expect to be fed every time the enclosure door…

Graphic of butterfly and moth

Moth or butterfly? Can you tell the difference?

November 8, 2017

Is it a moth or a butterfly? It sounds like a simple question, and there are a few simple ways to answer it: If it flies during the day, it’s a butterfly; if it flies at night, it’s a moth. However, there are diurnal moths — those that fly during…

Photo of a fish handprint

Under the Sea handprint fish craft

November 6, 2017

It’s getting cold outside, and when it’s cold outside what do we dream of? Warmth! OK, some may have said snow, but I think many dream of having warm summer days back. And when I think of summer, I usually think of the water or the beach, so I decided…

Photo of two trumpeter swans in the snow

Feeding the Kenue Park trumpeter swans

November 6, 2017

Check out the trumpeter swans on the wetland year-round with our live web camera. Click here. You can also find more videos on our Videos page or watch what Teddy the turtle eats here.

Photo of a hike through tall grass

Taste test acorn cookies during Thanksgiving hike

November 3, 2017

Acorns, acorns everywhere. Kenue Park is full of acorns that have fallen from the bur oaks in the oak savanna, and squirrels get so happy to store them up for a good snack in the winter. (Read about a fun acorn craft here.) However, acorns are not only good for…

Photo of a leaf jack-o-lantern

Perfect Halloween nature craft: Spooky leaves!

November 1, 2017

Seasonal crafts that you can make with supplies you find outside are some of the best crafts. And what is there in abundance at this time of year? Leaves! So, for this craft, your first goal is to head outside with the kiddos and pick up three to five of…

Photo of a nuthatch at a nut feeder

Grackles, blackbirds and starlings don’t like safflower

November 1, 2017

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…

Photo of a tarantula

Venom and barbed hairs: Why tarantulas are actually quite cool

October 30, 2017

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…

Photo of a hoary bat

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

October 25, 2017

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…

Photo of an arrow made out of acorns

Leave behind your nature art

October 23, 2017

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…