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Kids

Painted and snapping turtles survive winter underwater

We see many types of turtles roaming around northwest Iowa in the summertime, especially painted turtles and snapping turtles. But we don’t see any in the winter. Where do they all go? Painted turtles and snapping turtles spend their winters in lakes or ponds, living beneath the ice the forms. They survive because of a…

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Animals that don’t have a pattern are cathemeral

Learning about nature and animals is so interesting, because humans seem to have a desire to divide things into categories, and for those categories to be neat and clear. When learning about butterflies and moths, we want to know how to tell the difference. There are general differences, but there seems to be an exception…

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Butterfly ring *FREE template*

Photo of a little girl holding a butterfly ring

We love pollinators, and we love sharing that love with others through education and fun. At the 2019 Bee & Butterfly Festival, visitors could create a fun butterfly ring with a simple cardstock template and a pipe cleaner. You can create your own by downloading our free template below, and then all you need is…

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Diurnal animals are awake during the day

Graphic aboutt being diurnal

Kids learn pretty early that animals that are awake at night are nocturnal. The word for the rest of us that are awake during the day, though, doesn’t seem quite as well known. Humans and many animals are what is called diurnal. Diurnal creatures wake and sleep with the rising and the setting of the…

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Tarantula defense mechanisms

One might think that the first thing a tarantula, like Pinki — the Chilean rose-haired tarantula at the Dickinson County Nature Center, would do to protect itself would be to bite with its venomous fangs. Yet, they actually have several warning signs to tell predators, including people, that they are uncomfortable and to not get…

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Birds have hollow bones

In the spring and fall, the vast majority of birds take to the air. In the spring, they head north to their breeding grounds, and in the fall, they head south to overwintering areas that are warmer and have ample food supplies. Migration can be a long and hard journey, and the bigger the bird,…

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10 fast raccoon facts

Photo of a raccoon

1. A male is called a boar. You probably didn’t know that, like a pig, that a male raccoon is called a boar and a female is called a sow. Little ones aren’t called piglets, though; they’re called kits. 2. It’s black mask may have a purpose. The raccoon’s black mask over its eyes is…

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5 hoverfly facts

Photo of a hoverfly on a white flower

Black and yellow means bee, right? Not always! A lot of insects are black and yellow and yet aren’t bees, and a lot of bees aren’t even black and yellow. Native bees can be(e) blue, red, metallic green, brown — tons of different colors. One insect that mimics bees and is often mistaken for a…

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Plants protect themselves from the winter cold

Photo of hoarfrost

Each autumn, the world outside is getting ready for a change. Birds are migrating to find warmer wintering grounds. Mammals are eating a lot to increase their fatty insulation and are putting food away for the winter. Trees are dropping their leaves and going dormant. (Read about that here) What about other plants though? How…

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Squirreling away nuts for winter

Photo of a squirrel eating

During the autumn season, you’ll see acorns and other nuts falling from trees as the trees get ready to go dormant — basically, sleep — during the winter. Many animals take advantage of this time and gather those nuts to eat during the winter, and you’ve most likely seen plenty of squirrels running around with…

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