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Nine Fun Facts About Woodpeckers

Graphic with photos of woodpeckers

There are birds at your nut feeder with black, white and red. What are they? The safe answer is, it’s a woodpecker. Adult males of six of the seven species of woodpeckers in Iowa have some combination of black, white and red, in fact. It might be a red-headed, red-bellied, downy, hairy, pileated woodpecker or…

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Trumpeter swans were once gone from Iowa

Photo of swans being released

Trumpeter swans are a majestic sight. Their graceful long necks. Their brilliant white feathers. Their long, slender wings that help them hover above the earth. As strong as they may look, being the largest waterfowl native to North America, they are not invincible. In fact, they were once extirpated — extinct in a local region…

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Venomous snakes of Iowa

Photos of Iowa's venomous snakes

“Does Iowa have any poisonous snakes?” It’s a question that comes up when visitors see our animal ambassador snakes, and the answer is “No.” That might not be what you expected. You see, snakes in North American are not poisonous, they are venomous — which means they inject a toxin rather than secreting a poison…

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Why worms surface after rain

Graphic about earthworm types

  After it rains, people often step outside and think, “It smells like worms.” (The dead worm above looks like an S. Take the kids for a shape walk to see what else you might discover.) The smell is more likely caused by soil bacteria released after heavy downpours, but perhaps we think it smells…

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If you like calla lilies, plant Jack in the pulpit

Take a walk through a garden center, and it’s easy to get swept away by all of the exotic flowers that you can plant in your yard. However, we always encourage people to think native when planting a garden, and fall is a great time to plant native prairie seedlings in your yard as they…

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Slow down at Pioneer Park Nature Preserve

Photo of pale purple coneflower

So many people crest the hill on Highway 71, coming north into the south side of Milford, and get a beautiful overlook of the Milford Creek, a tributary of the Little Sioux River. But did you know that you can take a right and actually walk through part of that beautiful area? Pioneer Park Nature…

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What is an oak savanna?

Photo of trail in Kenue Park

Kenue Park has three different ecosystems in its 70 acres, which makes it a great place to explore. You can see a wetland with rehabilitated trumpeter swans, prairie with native tallgrass species and a restored oak savanna. (Four ways to tell apart swans and snow geese) Iowa is not really known for its forests, but…

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What’s happening in the hive? How a queen develops

Photo of larvae in honeycomb

Where is the queen is probably the No. 1 question that we are asked about the indoor bee hive. You can read a little bit about that here, but the next question often comes up as “What makes a queen bee?” The short answer is, queens are fed royal jelly which makes them different from…

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What’s happening in the hive? There aren’t any drones

Are all the bees in the indoor beehive worker bees? The answer right now is 99.99999 percent of them are. All of the bees in our indoor beehive are female worker bees, except for the queen bee. There is one queen bee in each beehive, but the other 50,000-60,000 bees in the hive are all…

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What’s happening in the hive? Drying down honey

Photo of a honeybee on a flower

A few years ago, we saw a mass of bees collected around the hole that led outside from the indoor bee hive. We thought the bees might be swarming — leaving the hive, which usually occurs when there are two queens raised and one leaves with half the hive — and were nervous that there…

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