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Photo of a great-horned owl

Owls of Iowa: Great horned owl

December 2, 2019

There are nine species of owls in Iowa, and the great-horned owl (Bubo virgianus) may be the most well-known species. Great-horned owls have the quintessential owl call. When you think owl, you think “Whoooo. Whoooo.” That is actually not the call of every owl but the call of the great-horned…

Photo of completed origami bee

Simple origami bee

December 2, 2019

We’re bzzzzy bees at the Dickinson County Nature Center, and we’re continuously celebrating bees, butterflies, bats, hummingbirds and all of our pollinators at Pollinator Paradise. Once you see the live bees in the indoor beehive, crawl through the human-sized honeycomb, pollinate life-size apple trees and see all the delicious foods…

Photo of a muskrat in water

Muskrats remain active during the winter

November 25, 2019

It may look like a whole colony of muskrats has overtaken a wetland in the winter. Mounds of plants are pushed up all around, but most likely it’s not as many muskrats as it appears. Muskrats do not hibernate during winter, and they also don’t store food in their lodges…

Painted and snapping turtles survive winter underwater

November 18, 2019

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.…

Animals that don’t have a pattern are cathemeral

November 12, 2019

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…

Photo of a little girl holding a butterfly ring

Butterfly ring *FREE template*

November 4, 2019

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…

Graphic aboutt being diurnal

Diurnal animals are awake during the day

November 4, 2019

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…

Tarantula defense mechanisms

October 28, 2019

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…

Birds have hollow bones

October 21, 2019

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,…

Photo of a raccoon

10 fast raccoon facts

October 14, 2019

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…

Photo of a hoverfly on a white flower

5 hoverfly facts

October 7, 2019

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…

Photo of hoarfrost

Plants protect themselves from the winter cold

September 23, 2019

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…