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Frogs are the real living dead

Photo of a leopard frog

The title “living dead” is very Halloween-appropriate. And that’s exactly what northern leopard frogs are in the wintertime. Northern leopard frogs are native to northwest Iowa and are aquatic creatures, meaning they live in the water. Like American bullfrogs, which are not native to northern Iowa, northern leopard frogs will hibernate underwater. (See a video…

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The perfect fall craft — a handprint acorn!

Photo of acorn hand craft

‘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 Tots program in September. The…

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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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Make your own caterpillar finger puppet

Photo of a caterpillar finger puppet

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 and Truths page, but this…

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

“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. However, we almost never see…

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Fall bird migration through Iowa isn’t rushed

Photo of a hooded merganser duck

Sabine’s gulls are an Arctic species that typically migrate along the coasts or at sea, but one was spotted in Dickinson County in September. During the Sept. 30 Birdwatchers Anonymous birding trek, Lee Schoenewe and his group of birders found this rare species at a marsh just west of Little Swan Lake, which was quite…

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

Photo of a nightshade plant

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 family, which also includes tomatoes…

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The nocturnal animals of Iowa

Graphic with nocturnal animals

“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 buried beneath one of her…

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Welcome naturalist Ashley Hansen

Photo of Ashley Hansen

When Ashley Hansen was an environmental conservation volunteer with the Peace Corps in Santo Domingo, Paraguay, she came across a little kitten with big ears. She adopted the cat and named her Nambi, which in the local native language of Guaraní in her village in Paraguay means “ear.” Even utilizing that bit of the tribal…

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