Photo of a male and female purple martin

A colony of white, gourd-like houses hang on a large pole outside of the Dickinson County Nature Center. Around them flies dozens of gliding, floating, flitting dark birds — purple martins. Local birder and owner of Bird Haven in Spirit Lake Wendell Hansen has cared for the purple martins for many years, and last June…

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Photo of a wild rose

Peering out the window of the Dickinson County Nature Center, I can see birds at the feeders in the avian courtyard. One of them is a brilliant yellow color with black wings, and it is right at home here. That’s because the American goldfinch is the state bird of Iowa. Did you know that Iowa…

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Photo of a coyote

As Iowa was settled, its landscape and demographics changed, and that meant that its wildlife changed as well. Many species, such as deer, turkeys, trumpeter swans and bobcats were extirpated or close to extirpation. However, increasingly positive conservation attitudes has helped to bring back many species. Here are some of the predators that reign in…

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Photo of a hawthorn leaf

Trees of Dickinson County: Basswood It seems like, when people list the trees of Iowa, that many don’t think about, or possibly know about, basswood (Tilia americana). However, basswood is a common tree that occurs statewide and is often interspersed with maples and oaks. Size Basswoods grow 75-100 feet or more, and they grow quickly.…

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Photo of two trumpeter swans in the snow

Check out the trumpeter swans on the wetland year-round with our live web camera. Click here. You can also find more videos on our Videos page or watch what Teddy the turtle eats here. Egret, crane or heron? How to tell which bird you have seen Two big white birds — rehabilitated trumpeter swans —…

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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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