Photo of a ring-billed gull

Okoboji seagulls aren’t sea gulls at all

April 23, 2018

There is no such thing as a seagull. All gulls have proper names, none of which is sea. We posted this Noon Nature Fact on our Facebook page last week and had several comments on it. I knew that there were lots of species of gulls, but honestly didn’t realize…

Go on a Spring Scavenger Hunt

April 23, 2018

I don’t really want to sit at my desk today. I want to go outside! This weekend was really the first weekend I felt the warm sun on my skin, and the winds that flew were cool instead of frigid. It felt wonderful, and it finally feels like spring is…

Photo of a tundra swan

4 ways to tell apart swans and snow geese

April 9, 2018

It’s a big, white bird paddling on that body of water. But what exactly is it? Most likely, it’s a trumpeter swan if you’re in Iowa. The trumpeter swans is native to the state and is the biggest waterfowl native to the U.S., its wingspan reaching up to 8 feet…

Photo of pipe cleaner animals

Easy and inexpensive pipe cleaner animals

April 9, 2018

I was flipping through Pinterest last night when I saw some photos of amazing miniature animal creations and realized that they were all made out of pipe cleaners. That’s something we have a lot of in the craft supply area at the nature center, so I figured it would be…

Photo of a bamboo bee home

Make your own bee hotel

April 2, 2018

You can help native bees by providing them a secure place to nest. What many call bee hotels or bee homes range from simple to deluxe designs. (Mason bees are amazing pollinators.) One way is to drill various-sized holes into a wooden block or tree cookie and hang it in…

Photo of a salamander

What is permeable skin? A video experiment

April 2, 2018

Amphibians have permeable skin, meaning they can absorb oxygen through their skin. However, it also means that chemicals and other harmful things from the environment can also be absorbed. Learn more about permeable and impermeable skin with this science experiment led by environmental education coordinator Bryanna Kuhlman. See more lessons…

Photo of toilet paper roll bunnies

Adorable Easter bunny from toilet paper tubes

March 26, 2018

The family is coming over for Easter Sunday, and you need something adorable to spruce up the table. Plus, you need something to entertain the gaggle of children that will be running around. (Another idea: Fold a simple origami fish) That’s where this simple toilet paper tube bunny craft comes…

8 Insects You Should Love

March 26, 2018

   

Photo of a duck mask craft

Make your own duck mask from a paper plate

March 19, 2018

As ducks and geese starting migrating through the Iowa Great Lakes area this spring, it’s only appropriate that we feature a waterfowl mask as a craft. (Read “Seven Waterfowl to Look for During Migration.”) I’ll admit I took some creative liberties with the duck coloring in my own duck mask,…

Photo of a hooded merganser

Seven waterfowl to look for during migration

March 19, 2018

The Iowa Great Lakes and the smaller lakes and wetlands in the area are starting to melt. That means that birds that flew south to warmer areas for the winter are now flying back north to their summer breeding grounds. Waterfowl are definitely on the move this month, and it’s…

Photo of origami fish being folded

Fold a simple origami fish

March 12, 2018

Origami is one of those crafts that you just feel accomplished when it’s completed. It’s a skill that you can share and show off, and this origami fish is a simple design that even children can do. (Fold a leaping origami frog.) First, take a square sheet of paper —…

Photo of a prairie skink missing its tail

Schnoodle the prairie skink has lost her tail

March 12, 2018

Prairie skinks (Plestiodon septentrionalis) are common in Iowa, but you may never have seen one before. They are so tiny, that they blend in extremely well with their prairie surroundings. Prairie skinks range from 5-8 inches in length typically. The new animal ambassador at the Dickinson County Nature Center, named…