Category Archives: Outdoor/Nature

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Powder Valley Nature Center Presents An Evening with Raptors Friday, Jan. 27

Meagan Duffee-Yeates trains her Merlin to hunt for blackbird during a winter months in Missouri.

Bird buffs, falcon fanciers, and anyone enraptured by raptors is invited to meet the objects of their admiration during this year’s An Evening with Raptors event—and explore a collaboration between humans and animals first forged thousands of years ago.

The annual An Evening with Raptors hosted by the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center will be held on Friday, Jan. 27 from 7-9 p.m.  The event is free and is open to all ages.

Falconry is the ultimate partnership between human and bird.  The sport goes back thousands of years, and you can learn about it at An Evening with Raptors event.  “Several area falconers will gather to offer the rare chance to observe and learn about these fascinating feathered hunters,” said MDC Assistant Nature Center Manager, Robyn Parker.  “They will also explain how viewers can get started in this age-old sport themselves,” she added.

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Top 10 Nutty Christmas Squirrels!

Pictured: Don Corrigan with his book “Nuts About Squirrels”

This topic never gets old! Squirrels!

Enjoy this re-posted Christmas squirrel special! (from 2020)

That holiday favorite about “acorns roasting on an open fire” brings to mind Top 10 Christmas Squirrels & why we love them!

By Don Corrigan

It’s impossible to enjoy the outdoors anywhere in North America without a squirrel scolding you from a tree limb, or a squirrel scampering across your path, or a squirrel playing “chicken” with you on the roadway when you’re driving. Squirrels are not just confined to the outdoors. They are in all the mass media that we consume and enjoy in the indoors. With that in mind, Environmental Echo offers a Top Ten of mass-mediated squirrels that we encounter in print and on our electronic devices. We humans must love them. We have made them the top virtual critters in our popular culture.

1.)  Christmas Vacation Squirrel

Remember Chevy Chase’s movie when Aunt Bethany asks: “What’s that sound? You hear it? It’s a funny squeaky sound.” Uncle Lewis then responds: “You couldn’t hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.” The squeak was worse than a noisy dump truck. It was from the Christmas Vacation Squirrel. The production originally had a trained squirrel ready to wreak havoc on the Griswold holiday home, but it died the day before the scene was to be shot. An untrained squirrel was brought in to be chased by Uncle Eddy’s dog, Snot, which caused unanticipated mayhem. Today several online sites sell a “Christmas Vacation Attacking Squirrel” with motion sensor and sound!

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Missouri Department of Conservation Forester Says Live Christmas Trees Offer Gifts Both During and After the Holidays

Domien and Eileen Meert at their Christmas tree farm near Festus, Mo. Domien holds the first tree dibble he ever used when he started his tree farm.

A living Christmas tree can be wonderful holiday gift for your home.  It’s also the perfect gift for nature long after the holidays are over, according to Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Community Forester, Mark Grueber.

Living Christmas trees bring a feel to the holidays that no artificial tree can duplicate.  The natural scent of fir or pine can set the Christmas mood as sure as colorful lights or a favorite Christmas carol.  Live trees are also a renewable resource, unlike artificial ones which are made of non-recyclable metal and petroleum-based products.

For those still in the market for a Christmas tree, now is still a good time to pick one up.  Buyers have two choices.  The first is selecting a cut tree, available in many locally owned tree lots in the area.

Grueber offered advice on checking the freshness of a cut tree.  “You want to make sure the needles are fairly tight.  The best thing is to just take it and bang it up and down on a nice, solid piece of ground and check to see how many needles are coming off,” he said.  “And you can kind of tell by touch.  Brush your hand along some of the needles, and if quite a few are dropping off, that’s probably a tree you want to avoid.”

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Squirrels May Save The Planet

Squirrels are pop culture icons, and the furry critters may actually save the planet.
That’s what author Don Corrigan told the ACORN Newspapers group of California when he was recently interviewed about his book, “Nuts About Squirrels.”

Environmental Echo is happy to share the ACORN squirrel article here.

Note Corrigan’s ACORN quote: “As we realize how much methane livestock is putting into the atmosphere, we will give up our hamburgers and Texas Roadhouse steaks,” he said. “We will be eating the new Chicken of the Trees—squirrels.

“The blessed squirrels are much easier to produce naturally, and Sammy the Squirrel does not fart methane near as much as Bessy the Cow!”

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Coloring Book’s “Smart Bird” Gives Kids Road Safety Tips

Just in time for the holidays, Terry the Turkey Vulture swoops down to give children smart tips on keeping safe around roadways. Terry’s advice also applies to children’s pets, who do need a little “coloring” in the book.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in every five children under the age of 15 killed in traffic crashes was a pedestrian. Kids are at risk of crash injuries, even when they are not inside a vehicle. Adults can help protect their young ones with tips about road safety.

Terry says: “Let’s All Be Safe on Roadways.” The coloring book’s message is that motorists must drive defensively and walkers must walk defensively. When you’re at a marked crosswalk, don’t assume that oncoming drivers will stop.

In 2022, St. Louis was shocked when residents were killed trying to cross Chippewa Street to get to a popular city custard stand. Pedestrian deaths are a concern for everyone. St. Louis suburbs also have lost residents to crosswalk accidents and curbside collisions.

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Equine Ecstasy: Kirkwood’s Tom Noonan Finds “Wild Horses of Missouri”

by Don Corrigan

Sometimes they’re called “feral.” Sometimes they’re called “wild.” Tom Noonan likes them because they’re “free.” Tom Noonan recently took a trip to Ozark country in search of some equine ecstasy and he found it.

The former Kirkwood Councilman captured the horses on film and video near Echo Bluff State Park. Normally, the small herds of horses that run free are miles to the south deep in the Ozarks around the Jacks Fork River watershed near Eminence.

“I was so surprised that I could drive less than two hours from Kirkwood and find these amazing animals roaming freely – no fences, no tags, no nothin,’” said Noonan. “They seem to have no boundaries.

“People fly thousands of miles to see something like this,” added Noonan. “They go to Chincoteague, Virginia to see the horses from tourist boats. Or, to the Southwest to watch them from helicopters. We get to see them just a short drive to Echo Bluff State Park area.”

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Wildlife Man Of Costa Rica: St. Louis Man Writes Guides To Frogs & Reptiles of Central America

Photos provided by David Norman.

by Don Corrigan

David Norman is a friend to frogs and reptiles of Central America. A Webster Groves 1972 high school grad, he recently took time out from field work in Costa Rica to visit with friends from a half century ago at his reunion.

“Some of my Webster buddies have been down to see me, so I don’t feel too far away,” said Norman. “Cory Gardiner and his wife have come down. So has Bill Clark and his wife. There is a lot to see in Costa Rica.

“I always take visitors to an active volcano, and a cloud forest, and a much wetter rainforest, and the beaches and national parks,” said Norman. “My regular work is as a tour guide and teacher for colleges offering study abroad credits.”

Norman always is happy to introduce the frogs and reptiles of Costa Rica to American visitors. After all, he wrote the books on these creatures, including “Common Amphibians of Costa Rica” and a field guide to similar animals in the Santa Rosa and Palos Verde national parks.

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MDC Grant Helps Purchase Track-Chairs for Missouri Disabled Sportsmen

With the help of a grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Disabled Sportsmen was able to acquire four new all-terrain track-chairs and an enclosed trailer. The chairs and trailer will allow MDS to expand services and opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Photo: MDC

Specialized track-chairs help the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) make nature and the outdoors more accessible to all outdoor enthusiasts. MDC recently awarded a grant to Missouri Disabled Sportsmen (MDS) to assist in the purchase of four track-chairs and an enclosed trailer. These all-terrain track-chairs will allow MDS to expand their services and create more opportunities for those they serve.

MDS is a non-profit organization with the mission of providing mobility-impaired, youth, and terminally ill youth outdoor enthusiasts with hunting, fishing, shooting sports, and outdoor educational opportunities in a safe and inclusive manner.

“Partnerships between MDC and organizations like MDS are integral to the Department’s outreach efforts,” said Education Outreach Coordinator Rob Garver. “We’ve partnered with MDS for several years and we’re confident this grant and the new track-chairs will strengthen this relationship for years to come.”

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Protecting our Pollinators Event at Powder Valley Nature Center, event Sept. 17

Photo: MDC

Nature’s pollinating insects have our backs every day.  Scientists estimate at one out of every three bites of food we eat is there thanks to pollinating insects and other animals.  Did you know approximately 35% of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce?  That also includes the peppers and tomatoes we grow in our own gardens, or the blackberries we might enjoy collecting in nature.  Without our pollinators, we would be starving.

Since pollinators do so much for us, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) invites you to help them out too.  MDC’s Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center is hosting the Protecting our Pollinators event, on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. It’s a special event to celebrate these silent, but essential heroes of the insect and animal world.  Some of Missouri’s most important pollinators include bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and moths.  The event is free and welcomes people of all ages and will include educational booths, presentations, and activities to help the whole family appreciate pollinators.

The presentations during the event will take place in the nature center’s auditorium and will include the following topics:

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St. Louis Suburbs Hit: Hard One-in-1,000 Year Rains Make A “Summer of Flash Floods”

Kirkwood residents watched in amazement on July 26 when storms turned Sugar Creek into a raging river.

by Don Corrigan

St. Louis and its suburbs have been bombarded by extreme precipitation events. That includes record-shattering rains that delivered a “Summer of Flash Floods” for 2022.

Thunderstorms in July delivered devastating flooding, including one on July 26 and another on July 28. The storms hit especially hard in Kirkwood, Webster Groves, Rock Hill, Brentwood and University City.

Area waterways such as the River Des Peres, Shady Creek, Deer Creek and Gravois Creek “flashed” out of their banks. The water receded in a matter of hours, but left mud, trees, home debris and thousands of dollars in damage.

The one-in-1,000 year rain events prompted national news coverage. Sean Hadley, spokesman for the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD), summed it up for the Washington Post: “It was just too much water.”

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