acorn hand craft

The perfect fall craft — a handprint acorn!

October 16, 2017

‘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 Read More »

woolly oak leaf gall

What is the fuzzy stuff on my oak leaves?

October 10, 2017

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 Read More »

caterpillar finger puppet

Make your own caterpillar finger puppet

October 9, 2017

Finger puppets are an incredibly easy craft to make at home, because they need hardly any supplies but create hours — let’s be honest here, minutes — of fun. We’ve made a bee finger puppet on our blog before, and you can download the template on our Five Bee Myths Read More »

Why can’t I see the queen bee in the indoor bee hive?

October 9, 2017

“Where is the queen bee?” That’s usually the first question we get when people see the indoor bee hive at the Dickinson County Nature Center. The queen bee is pretty identifiable. Her abdomen — the longest part of her body — is almost twice the length of a worker bee. Read More »

female osprey with chicks

Osprey fly south in the winter to whereabouts unknown

October 3, 2017

The Okoboji osprey pair and their three grown chicks are gone for the season, last spotted about the second week of September before heading south. But where exactly are they going? And why do they leave? Where are they going? We’re not exactly sure. Although the osprey male that has habited Read More »

snake sticking out its tongue

The reason a snake sticks out its tongue

September 29, 2017

Why do snakes stick out their tongues at you? Have you ever seen this? You’ve been looking at one of the snake animal ambassadors at the nature center, and one of them sticks out her black tongue and flicks it around. She is smelling you! The snake’s tongue has a Read More »

nightshade plant

Looks like a baby tomato, smells like a tomato, not a tomato

September 27, 2017

We received a Facebook message the other day with a question about a plant with a tiny green berry that smelled like a tomato and looked like a tomato when it was cut open. But don’t eat it. It’s not a tomato. Black nightshade (Solanum ptycanthum) is in the nightshade Read More »

boy with a butterfly mask

Create your own butterfly mask

September 22, 2017

This mask was the hit craft of the 2017 Bee & Butterfly Festival. Whether you missed the fun or want to make new masks to wear at home, this butterfly mask is the perfect afternoon craft. First, download the butterfly mask template and print it on cardstock or thick construction paper. We Read More »

Graphic with nocturnal animals

The nocturnal animals of Iowa

September 22, 2017

“Where is the hedgehog?” or “What is in the cage below the salamanders?” These are two questions we often get at the Dickinson County Nature Center, because what is in the cage below the salamanders in our lower level is an African pygmy hedgehog named Honey. And Honey is usually Read More »

How do monarch butterflies find their way south?

September 20, 2017

Those wonderful orange-and-black butterflies that we love so much. They fly overhead this time of year, and we know they are headed to their overwintering sites outside of Mexico City. But how do they get there? Plenty of studies have been done throughout the years to try to figure out Read More »

the interior of a country school

Rainy days call for indoor activities like the schoolhouse

August 16, 2017

While I was taking a shift at the Westport Schoolhouse yesterday in Kenue Park, two families with young children came in. “OK, you be the teacher,” the kids said to their dad. “Good morning class,” the dad started. “Today is Tuesday, Aug. 15. We’re going to learn how many days Read More »

osprey chick flapping its wings

Osprey Diary: Trying out his wings

July 12, 2017

They grow up so fast. One day you’re using your wings to make sure no cool breeze touches your tiny chicks, and the next they don’t fit underneath you. One moment they’re the size of an egg, and the next their wings stretch out as far as yours. One second Read More »

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