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Invitations to Nature

“Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours. Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes …

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Give Back to the Outdoor Community in 2023

The holiday season is upon us and the arrival of 2023 is just around the bend. The holiday period with the new year beckoning gives us a segue to pause and reset, recharge and re-focus our energies. In all sincerity, this season coupled with the new year allows us to curb our bad habits, improve ourselves, change our outlook on life to a positive one and see how we can make a difference. As avid outdoors-persons, this time of year …

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Look Out for Birds’ Nests!

A few common birds’ nests in Nebraska By Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Education Specialist I’m sure all of us have seen a bird’s nest before. It’s normally a conglomeration of sticks, mud, twine, leaves and sometimes trash, like wrappers or old fishing line. Whatever the material it’s constructed from, a bird’s nest is truly an amazing feat of engineering. Imagine your own home: It’s strong enough to weather a storm, it’s waterproof, it protects you from the cold and the heat, …

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The Hibernation Checklist

By Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Education Specialist I’m sure some of us can think of nothing better to do in the winter than sleeping through the entire thing. Being able to avoid the cold and early darkness in the warmth and comfort of bed sounds just about perfect. Well, some animals do sleep all winter, but it’s much different than what we’d imagine for ourselves. Hibernation takes a lot of preparation, and it’s an often-misunderstood behavior in animals. There are very …

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Catch these Game and Parks education events in December

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educators have scheduled interesting and engaging events for the curious in December. Here are some opportunities: Little Saplings early childhood program presents Winter Woodpeckers Adults looking to explore the outdoors with their young children are invited to Little Saplings, a monthly early childhood nature discovery program at Schramm Education Center near Gretna. The 2022 series concludes Dec. 7 with the theme Winter Woodpeckers at 9 a.m. It is designed for children ages 2-5 and their …

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Tips for Cold-Weather Camping

By Jamie Bachmann, Wildlife Educator In Nebraska, high summer reigns as the busiest season for family camping, but I’m the kind of mom who prefers to camp in seclusion, seeking to avoid the distractions of busy campgrounds. With less than 3 percent of land in Nebraska designated as publicly accessible, opportunities for isolation are limited. But when my kiddos were young, I heard tales — near legends — of families embracing cold-weather camping. Then in March 2003, a single car …

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Nebraska’s Nine Turtles

By Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Education Specialist Turtles are some of the oldest living and unique animals on the planet. Let’s start with the obvious: their shell. A turtle shell is unlike any other physical, protective device found on an animal. Most turtles have a hard shell made from beta keratin. These hard shells are covered in scutes, similar to scales, which gives them rigidity for protection. But not all turtles have hard shells. Nebraska is home to two species of …

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Bird Banding in the Panhandle

By: Delanie Bruce, Education Manager, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies & Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area and Chadron State Park saw a lot of birds this fall migration season. Over the seven-week period, Aug. 24-Oct. 15, 2022, staff banded nearly 700 song birds between the two stations: 165 birds at Chadron and 527 birds at Wildcat Hills. Bird banding is the process of capturing wild birds and placing a uniquely numbered band around one leg …

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Catch these Game and Parks education events in November

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educators have scheduled interesting and engaging events for the curious in November. Here are some opportunities: Little Saplings early childhood program presents Look at Leaves Adults looking to explore the outdoors with their young children are invited to Little Saplings, a monthly early childhood nature discovery program at Schramm Education Center near Gretna. The series, which continues Nov. 2 with the theme Look at Leaves, is at 9 a.m. the first Wednesday of each month, …

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Nebraska’s Fall Fungi

By Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Education Specialist Humans eat them. We have about a million puns associated with them. They’re pretty to look at, and they are literally found everywhere. I’m talking about fungi, a group of spore-producing organisms, which includes molds, yeasts, mushrooms and toadstools. Fungi evolved around 1.5 million years ago, and today, they make up around 25 percent of all the biomass on earth. There are an estimated 3.8 million species in the world, and scientists have studied …

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