Blog

How is ice created in lakes?

Graphic about water temperature versus density

The temperatures drop, and we all wonder, “When will the lakes freeze?” My question today was, how does that actually happen? Of course, ice is created when the water temperature reaches freezing. That is pretty obvious. We’ve all seen ice cubes created in the freezer. Yet, lakes don’t freeze all at once, and they don’t…

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Enjoy environmental learning at other nature centers in northwest Iowa

Photo of fish hatchery

The Iowa Great Lakes area is full of environmental opportunities, from recreating on the lakes to hiking county and state parks to bird watching. After people experience the many interactive exhibits and live animals at the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji, they often ask where else they can find fun nature-related things to do…

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Acorn flour chocolate chip cookies recipe

Photo of acorn flour cookies

When environmental education coordinator Bryanna Kuhlman decided to focus on ethnobotany for this year’s Thanksgiving hike, she knew she would talk about how people have used acorns for food as part of the Kenue Park program. She came to me (community relations coordinator Kiley Roth) and casually mentioned it would be fun to make cookies…

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Seven differences between osprey and bald eagles

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 2000s. Each summer, osprey come…

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Moth or butterfly? Can you tell the difference?

Graphic of butterfly and moth

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 the day, and there are…

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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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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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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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Osprey fly south in the winter to whereabouts unknown

Photo of a female osprey with chicks

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 the Dickinson County Nature Center…

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