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Nebraska Nature in Color – Blue Hair and Bumble Bees

Community science specialist Alie Mayes talks about the challenges in sharing her love of nature with her nephew. By Alie Mayes, Community Science Specialist As I was scrolling through the photos on my phone the other day, I realized that the majority of my pictures consist of three things: nature, nature for iNaturalist and the people/pets I love. There were a few pictures that made me stop and smile. Last summer, my nephew, Aiden (then 8 years old), came to …

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Breaking Down Birding Barriers

A woman with binoculars points in the distance with a group of people

Meet a Nebraska woman working for more inclusive and accessible birding in the state. By Renae Blum In conversation, Cassandra Dean smiles easily and laughs often. But her eyes well up with tears remembering a birding event she led last fall at Indian Cave State Park. Hosted on a newly-built trail designed to be accessible, Dean’s outing was described as “birding for everybody and every body” – inclusive to people with disabilities and other health concerns. At the event, Dean …

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A Guide to Herping

Try a new outdoor activity this spring. Herping is the practice of searching for reptiles and amphibians. By Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Education Specialist Looking for ways to get kids outside and away from their screens and tablets? Taking a nature walk or going on a scavenger hunt in the backyard are classic examples. Families with children also love the idea of “firsts”: The first time their children sleep under the stars, the first time they reel in a fish or …

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The Diversity of Eggs

Egg shape, color and size are remarkable adaptations for successful reproduction.  By Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Education Specialist Eggs are fascinating biological structures that serve as the cornerstone of reproduction for numerous species across the animal kingdom. From the familiar chicken egg to the exotic eggs of reptiles and insects, the world of animal eggs is as diverse as the species that lay them. In this article, we explore the various types of eggs laid by different species and uncover the …

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Cope’s Gray Treefrog

The Cope’s gray treefrog plays a vital role in forest and wetland ecosystems of Nebraska. By Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Education Specialist Meet the Cope’s gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis), a captivating amphibian found across eastern North America. Sporting subtle grays and greens adorned with intricate patterns on its skin, this arboreal frog is celebrated for its adaptability and enchanting calls. Despite its small size, this treefrog plays a vital role in the forest and wetland ecosystems where it lives. Appearance When …

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Nebraska Nature in Color – The Greening of Spring

Ways to celebrate new growth in spring. By Alie Mayes, Community Science Specialist This article is part of the Nebraska Nature in Color series. This limited series will run monthly from December 2023- June 2024. Spring has officially sprung! Well in truth, spring has been springing for a while now. The U.S.A. National Phenology Network has volunteers across the nation who help track spring’s progression. According to their Spring First Leaf Index, spring arrived in Nebraska 20 days early this …

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The Night Shift – Nebraska’s Nocturnal Wildlife

When night falls, nocturnal creatures play essential roles in shaping Nebraska’s ecosystems. By Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Education Specialist As the sun dips below the horizon, a hidden world awakens under the cloak of darkness. In the shadows of woodlands, across the sprawling plains and along the meandering waterways, nocturnal creatures emerge to navigate the night. From the silent wings of owls to the cryptic movements of mammals, Nebraska’s nocturnal creatures have evolved to thrive in the darkness. In this realm …

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Do Cranes Sleep?

Trail cameras on the Platte River catches sandhill cranes on their bellies. Story and photos by Eric Fowler Do sandhill cranes sleep? On their bellies? In a wooded creekbottom? From what we know about the cranes that stop in the Platte River Valley in Nebraska each spring, none of those ideas seem to make sense. It certainly didn’t to Chris Helzer of the Nature Conservancy, whose tip on this seemingly odd behavior spurred me to spend two days in a …

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The Secret Life of American Mink

The American mink is becoming increasingly prevalent in Nebraska’s aquatic ecosystems. By Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Education Specialist In the quiet corners of the Midwest, among the rustling reeds and meandering streams, lurks a creature of remarkable stealth and cunning: the American mink (Neovison vison). With its sleek fur and sinuous movements, this mysterious carnivore prowls the water’s edge, weaving through the tangled undergrowth in search of its next meal. While they are rarely seen by humans, the American mink is …

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Nebraska Nature in Color – A Few of My Favorite (Yellow) Things

The color yellow can be found throughout the year in outdoor Nebraska. By Alie Mayes, Community Science Specialist Ya’ll – I went outside the other day, and there was a bright yellow dandelion in my front yard! I think it is only after the harshest of winters that something so mundane can seem so special. Early season blooms are special. In addition to providing an exciting, visible sign that spring is on its way, early blooms provide valuable food resources …

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