View live trumpeter swans in Kenue Park

swan in front of the Dickinson County Nature Center

An eight-foot wingspan, long legs and a graceful neck — the trumpeter swans in Kenue Park are a lovely sight. The two rehabilitated trumpeter swans live year-round on the wetland viewable from the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji. “We have both a male and female trumpeter swan on our wetland, and they are flightless Read More »

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Bald eagle toilet paper tube craft

bald eagle

The bald eagle is the national symbol, so Independence Day week is the perfect time for a bald eagle craft. Plus, why not reuse some materials while you’re doing it? For this toilet paper tube bald eagle, you’ll need just a few supplies: Empty toilet paper tube Black, white, yellow/orange cardstock Googly eyes (optional, or Read More »

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Free fun in the Nature Playscape

child crossing a swinging bridge

Open all day every day, the Nature Playscape is a perfect place for families to enjoy the Okoboji outdoors. Located in Kenue Park, just outside the Dickinson County Nature Center, the playscape offers a variety of recreational play items. “Just another one of our free offerings, the Nature Playscape is a hit with kids of Read More »

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Five answers to questions about wood ticks

wood tick

A hard shell, long legs, a bad reputation. Know what I’m talking about? It’s the wood tick (Dermacentor variabilis), or American dog tick! More than a dozen tick species can be found throughout Iowa, but the most common is the wood tick. Iowa State University Extension & Outreach has a great publication on wood ticks, Read More »

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Four Iowa swallows

tree swallow sitting on a post

Bright birds with forked tails that swoop and dive around you — we see a lot of these in Kenue Park. They’re definitely swallows, but can you tell which kind? In Iowa, you’re likely to see four different kinds of swallows: Barn swallows, tree swallows, cliff swallows and purple martins. They’re quite similar, but relatively Read More »

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Purple martins are the largest swallow in the U.S.

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 Read More »

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Free compost and mulch at the Dickinson Recycling Center

compost being sifted

Everyone loves superfoods, and compost is like a superfood for your garden. Food scraps and yard waste together make up about 30 percent of what we throw away, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and instead they can be composted. Composting leaves and grass clippings is exactly what the Dickinson Recycling Center in Milford does. Read More »

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Osprey Diary: Home sweet home

osprey eating a koi fish

I know that we’re not the only ones who leave the Iowa Great Lakes area for the winter. There are ducks, geese, songbirds, swans and even people that take off when the weather gets colder for areas that are warmer and where food is easy to come by. Last year was a weird year. My Read More »

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11 pollinators from around the world

honey possum on a flower

The pollinator world goes beyond just butterflies and bees, and it also goes beyond the borders of Iowa and the United States. Pollinators come in many shapes, sizes, colors and species, and they help plant communities around the world survive. (Eight forgotten pollinators) Let’s take a look at some interesting worldwide pollinators. North and South Read More »

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