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2018-19 Early winter weather predictions

Graphic about temperature predictions

With colder temperatures dominating this week, most of us are wondering what is in store for this winter. The consensus seems to be that the 2018-19 winter, at least through January, will be warmer than average, but the precipitation outlook varies. (Enjoy fall while it’s here by identifying some of the leaves in your yard.)…

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Tell apart finches at your feeder

Photo of a female purple finch

Not all finches have “finch” as part of their name, so you might be surprised just how many finches you have at your feeder. Common redpoll, northern cardinal, rose-breasted grosbeak, scarlet tanager, indigo bunting — all of these are actually finches. (Nine fun facts about woodpeckers) However, most of these are pretty easily identifiable. That…

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Pinki the tarantula molts

We came in to work to find Pinki the tarantula on her back in her desert aquarium. Like many people who see a tarantula in this position, our first thought was “Is she dead?” She wasn’t moving. Her legs were wide apart. She was on her back. She certainly appeared dead. However, even naturalists have…

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Five differences between coyotes and wolves

Photo of a coyote

I still remember the first time I heard a coyote pack howl as dusk began to settle on the Iowa Great Lakes area. On a walk at Kettleson Hogsback, the sun started to set above the calm shallow lakes, and a high-pitched howl began in the distance. Another answered it. And another. And another. My…

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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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