Photo of a snowy owl pinecone

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 craft. To make your own…

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Photo of swan chicks

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 specialized for flight. On one…

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Photo of Great Plains toad

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 tarantula. Those hairs are more…

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Photo of white-tail buck with antlers

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 made of bone, whereas horns…

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Watershed map

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 watershed is an area of…

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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 be common in the tallgrass…

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Photo of a baby hedgehog

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 so that they do not…

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Photo of white-tail deer

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 how these Iowa animals survive.…

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Photo of child putting item on felt board

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 coordinator. “It also gives families…

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Photo of an egg carton snowman

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 a snowman, you’ll need: -An…

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