Photo of naturalists reading a story

Join us for storytime!

December 20, 2019

A new monthly program begins Jan. 4 at the Dickinson County Nature Center. Storytime with a Naturalist premieres at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, at the nature center in Okoboji, part of the 2020 program lineup. “Since we’re open on Saturdays now, I thought it would be fun for families…

Photo of a big brown bat

How bats survive the winter

December 16, 2019

Iowa has nine species of bats (you can read more about them here) and some of them hibernate while others migrate, and some migrate to hibernate. Iowa’s two most common bats, and those that you would find in Dickinson County, are the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and the big…

Photo of woman reading a story

Family Nature Night goes to the Caribbean

December 12, 2019

It may feel like the weather outside is frightful, but Caribbean Night will be so delightful at the Dickinson County Nature Center. The final Family Nature Night for 2019 has a tropical theme. “We thought it would be fun to take it outside the parameters of Iowa and think a…

How garter snakes spend the winter

December 9, 2019

The common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) is just that — common. They are a small snake, usually less than 3 feet, and are non-venomous. The snakes are found throughout Iowa and much of the U.S., as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. However common they are in the summertime,…

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…