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Flora & Fauna

That Other Edible, Tasty Spring Mushroom: The Dryad’s Saddle

Topside photo of a dryad’s saddle, a.k.a. pheasant’s back or hawks wing, in Nebraska. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Along with finding and picking morel mushrooms, there is another edible wild fungus growing in your moist woodlands that you should know and consider harvesting and making for dinner — the dryad’s saddle. The Dryad’s saddle. What the heck is that? The dryad’s saddle (Cerioporus squamosus, formerly known as Polyporus squamosus), and referred to as the pheasant’s back or …

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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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What to know about morel mushroom hunting

The morel mushroom hunting season is literally upon us. We’re on the cusp of it along river bottoms in eastern Nebraska. A few morels have been found. The Nebraska Morels Facebook Page indicates that some morels are also being found. This is the beginning of the morel mushroom harvest season in Nebraska! So how do we really know when morels will emerge? Among the primary indicators of morels emerging are dandelion flowers, garlic mustard seedlings, tree buds, plum blossoms, and …

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There Are Plants Growing In Your Yard That You Can Eat (No Kidding!)

You have just read the title to this blog and you’re thinking ‘Whoa! What? Wagner is way off base with this one!’ PL-EASE … Allow me, the avid forager, to explain. Now that spring has sprung and while you wait for your morel mushrooms to emerge, some of the more prolific, more accessible wild edible foods are making their initial appearances … in your yard! No kidding! This is the time of year when when edible wild plants emerge and …

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How to Spring Wild Turkey Hunt in Foul (No pun intended) Weather

Nebraska weather. Don’t like it? Wait a short while. It’ll change, maybe. Reality is rarely so kind. The Cornhusker State’s spring archery wild turkey hunting season is in full swing and soon the spring shotgun wild turkey hunting seasons will be getting underway (Youth – April 6 and Regular Shotgun – April 13). These seasons for turkey take place in the spring amid the ever-changing, ever-fluctuating, and sometimes unpredictable weather patterns and conditions we deal with here in Nebraska.  But …

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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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Spring Wild Turkey Hunting: Addiction, Obsession, Passion

Noted turkey hunter and outdoor writer Tom Kelly once wrote, “I do not hunt turkeys because I want to. I hunt them because I have to. I would, really, rather not. But I am helpless in the grip of my compulsion.” I completely agree! And the grip of my compulsion begins on March 25 with the opening of the spring archery wild turkey hunting season here in Nebraska. You know, some hunters describe spring wild turkey hunting as a cross …

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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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Don’t Forget the Ducks

In March, the millions of ducks that move through Nebraska are just as impressive as the gathering of sandhill cranes. By Eric Fowler When it comes to birdwatching in Nebraska in March, sandhill cranes get most of the love. But many don’t realize that a few miles south of the Platte River in the Rainwater Basin there is an equally impressive gathering of millions of ducks. The Rainwater Basin includes nearly 400 wetlands, ranging in size from a few to …

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