Discover Nature (Missouri Department of Conservation)

Missouri Department of Conservation

Head outside in mid-April and you’ll notice many trees springing into bloom. 

 

This week on Discover Nature, we pay special attention to an unwelcome invader: the Callery pear tree. 

 

Callery pears, which include the commonly known Bradford pear, are easily identifiable right now: deciduous trees reaching mature heights of 30-50 feet, with a pyramid-shaped crown covered in clusters of tiny white flowers with an unpleasant odor. 

 

Missouri Department of Conservation

As nighttime temperatures begin to climb and soil warms in Missouri’s woods, a fungal favorite of foragers begins to emerge. 

 

This week on discover nature, keep an eye to the ground for morel mushrooms. 

 

Morels are hollow-stemmed mushrooms, with a somewhat conical cap, covered with definite pits and ridges, resembling a sponge, pinecone, or honeycomb.  

 

These choice-edibles grow in a variety of habitats including moist woodlands and river bottoms. 

 

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on discover nature one of the oldest fish species alive today, and Missouri’s official state aquatic animal, is on the move. 

 

Paddlefish are related to sturgeon and sharks and are historically found in the big rivers of our state. 

 

This large bluish-gray fish with an elongated paddlelike snout, or rostrum, has no bones in its body, and adults have no teeth. Paddlefish swim slowly through water with their mouths wide open, collecting tiny crustaceans and insects in their elaborate gill-rakers. 

 

Missouri Department of Conservation

The lonesome calls of Missouri mornings on the prairie – once produced by hundreds of thousands of birds across our state – now hold the haunting story of a species nearly eliminated from our landscape

Each spring, male prairie chickens return to breeding grounds, called leks, to perform unique mating rituals. Each male defends his territory from competing cocks, inflating bright orange air sacs on his neck, and producing distinct “booming” call. 

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on discover nature, celebrate the first week of spring with a nature hike.

 

 

Spring brings new life to the outdoors: watch for young river otters near lakes and streams, bats leaving hibernation caves, wild turkeys, and turtles becoming active. 

 

The sounds of spring, alone, offer reason to rejoice. Listen for pileated woodpeckers drumming to establish territories, mourning doves cooing from their crop field nests, and the serenade of spring peepers at sunset.  

 

Missouri Department of Conservation

For thousands of years, fire has shaped natural communities in Missouri. This week on Discover Nature, watch for smoke and fire on the landscape. 

 

The first European explorers to document the Missouri wilderness noted American Indians’ use of fire to preserve grasslands for bison and promote regrowth of fruits, berries, and many other natural foods that flourish from periodic fires. 

 

Today, this ancient tool remains relevant as ever in managing pastures and woodlands for wildlife and food production, and combating invasive species. 

 

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature take a walk outside, and you may hear one of the first serenades of spring on the horizon.

  

   

 

Spring peepers have spent the winter burrowed under soil – a natural antifreeze in their blood keeping them thawed.  

 

One of the first species to begin calling in the spring, this small, slender frog can appear pink, gray, tan, or brown, with a dark ‘X’ on its back.

 

Roughly one-inch in length, they breed in fishless ponds, streams and swamps with thick undergrowth.  

 

Missouri Department of Conservation

In the waning weeks of winter, one of North America’s most important game fishes begins to get active in Missouri. This week on Discover Nature, walleye are on the move. 

 

These slender, yellowish or olive-brown fish have large mouths with prominent teeth, and especially reflective eyes. 

 

Residing in large streams and reservoirs throughout the state, these nocturnal fish feed in shallow water at night, and retreat to deeper pools during the day. 

 

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature, seldom-seen salamanders find love in late winter.


Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature, watch for river otters on frozen water.

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week in nature, keep an eye out for groundhogs. Also known as woodchucks, or whistle pigs, these rodents in the squirrel family are active during daylight hours, and are breeding now.

Terri Nickerson

This week on Discover Nature, watch for a rare, snow-white visitor to our state.

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature, voles - also called meadow mice - are busy working through the winter under snow and soil.

Missouri Department of Conservation

While cruising down a Missouri highway this winter, keep an eye out for a predator on the prowl.


Missouri Department of Conservation

This winter, consider a style of hunting that doesn’t require any special equipment, and has no bag limit. This week on Discover Nature, head outdoors in search of deer sheds.


Missouri Department of Conservation

The holiday season continues, but as we enter the new year and Christmas trees come down, consider giving one more gift: to nature.

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature, watch for an ecological engineer, and unsung steward of streams.

Missouri Department of Conservation

Missouri’s resident and migratory bald eagle populations peak in the winter, and now is a great time to look for these iconic American raptors.


Missouri Department of Conservation

As colder air moves into Missouri this week, keep an eye to the sky for honking flocks of snow geese.

Missouri Department of Conservation

Now that most leaves have fallen from Missouri’s trees, look for the smooth, white limbs of a giant rising over streams and river banks: Discover Nature this week with the American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis).

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature, we give thanks, and recognize the king of North American game birds.

Missouri Department of Conservation

As days get shorter and temperatures drop, Missouri’s black bears are entering dens to spend the winter months when food supplies are scarce.


Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature, watch for white-tailed deer in rut.

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature, listen for the eerie calls of bobcats in the wild.

Missouri Department of Conservation

As warm days grow farther apart, waves of colder air sweep across the state, bringing wind and rain that chill the blaze of autumn leaves.

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature, watch for spiders spinning silken webs, and “ballooning.”

Missouri Department of Conservation

As autumn begins in Missouri, one of the state’s most fragile and unique species is active beneath the surface of some streams.

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature keep your eyes peeled around dusk for groups of little brown bats.


Missouri Department of Conservation

Celebrate the arrival of autumn this week, and watch for a variety of ripening tree nuts falling to the ground.

Missouri Department of Conservation

This week on Discover Nature, get outside to enjoy early autumn weather, and keep an eye out for the first signs of fall color.


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