What kind of duck is it?

February 24, 2020
Photo of a snowy owl pinecone

Snowy owl pinecone craft

February 18, 2020

Iowa is home to nine species of owls. The snowy owl seems like the Holy Grail of owls, sometimes, since it is so elusive and seen so sporadically in the wintertime. It makes for a fun excursion to try to track down, and it also makes for a fun wintertime…

Photo of swan chicks

Types of feathers

February 15, 2020

Feathers come in a variety of colors and forms, but they are all composed of the protein beta-keratin, just like snake scales. Feathers’ barbs and barbules — smaller hooked pieces that come off of the barbs — make up different feather structures that serve different functions. Wing Wing feathers are…

Photo of Great Plains toad

What we love about our animal ambassadors

February 10, 2020

We love the animal ambassadors at the Dickinson County Nature Center! Here are some reasons why: 1. Pinki’s irridescent hair Pink is the perfect color for Valentine’s Day, so Pinki the tarantula fits right in. She has irridescent pink hairs that were the reason her species was named Chilean rose-haired…

Photo of white-tail buck with antlers

Five antler facts

February 3, 2020

Big white-tail deer bucks with big antlers. They are a statement, that’s for sure. But how much do we actually know about antlers? 1. Antlers differ from horns. The words antlers and horns are not interchangeable; they are completely different body parts for a variety of reasons. First, antlers are…

Watershed map

What is a watershed?

January 27, 2020

The augmented reality sandbox in the Dickinson County Nature Center has been a hit since it was installed. The exhibit talks about watersheds and how water moves through the landscape, but do you really understand what a watershed is? Let’s answer some questions about watersheds. What is a watershed? A…

Animal winter camouflage

January 20, 2020

The Iowa world is white in winter, so it makes sense that animals would want to blend in with their seasonal surroundings. Some animals have natural coloring that allows them to hide well in winter, whereas some animals change their colors to keep hidden from predators. Jackrabbit Jackrabbits used to…

Photo of a baby hedgehog

Baby hedgehogs lose their spines

January 13, 2020

Babies lose baby teeth, and so do baby animals — including baby hedgehogs, like the nature center’s animal ambassador Luna. However, hedgehogs also lose something else as they grow — their quills! Baby hedgehogs are born with spines, but at that time their skin is swollen and covers their spines…

Photo of white-tail deer

How animals survive the winter

January 6, 2020

Humans often hole themselves up in their houses to survive the winter in front of the fire with hot chocolate. However, animals have to survive the frigid chill outside in the elements, and they have different ways of dealing with the change in seasons. Let’s take a quick look at…

Photo of child putting item on felt board

Nature Tots continues in 2020

December 26, 2019

Nature stories, live animals, outdoor play — Nature Tots is a hit program at the Dickinson County Nature Center that will return Jan. 8 for the 2020 season. “I think this program has been so well attended because it offers activities families can do together,” said Bryanna Kuhlman, environmental education…

Photo of an egg carton snowman

Egg carton snowman

December 23, 2019

It’s a winter wonderland in Iowa, so we’re celebrating with a recycled snowman craft. Instead of tossing out your empty egg cartons, keep them around for fun crafts on an afternoon when the winter weather is pressing you in. (Check out instructions for an egg carton butterfly here). To make…

Photo of white-tail deer

How deer survive the winter

December 23, 2019

When walking through deep snow, it’s always easier when someone else leads. That person gets tired breaking the trail, but everyone who walks in his or her footsteps has an easier time of it. That is one reason that deer congregate during the winter. When they all use the same…