Tuesday, November 29, 2011


This past Thursday, November 24, I was lucky enough to get to spend a glorious, warm (70 degrees Fahrenheit in Colorado Springs proper) day at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It made me realize how thankful I am for my fiancée, Heidi Genter, who works as an animal keeper there, and for the many natural wonders the world has to offer us.

I found it ironic that the zoo’s flock of wild turkeys roamed about their yard carefree on a day we celebrate by feasting on their domesticated brethren. They are really quite magnificent birds and it is exciting to encounter them in the wild. Benjamin Franklin, had he gotten his way, would have made them the National Bird, in fact.

The zoo has a magnificent moose exhibit, complete with a “lake” that the resident bull seems to truly enjoy. One appears to need faith that the animal can’t clear the low railing on the near side of the pond. I had to stand back to get this image!

I was also treated to a close view of an American Lynx that was gnawing on a treat provided by its keepers. It is unlikely that your average person will ever see one of these amazing cats in their natural habitat, so zoos are just about the only place you can glimpse one. Indeed, one regular zoo visitor exclaimed that you “never see that guy down this close (in its enclosure).”

The warm temperatures even brought out a few insects, including this Western Paper Wasp, Mischocyttarus flavitarsis, prowling among pine needles for any last bit of honeydew from the now dormant conifer aphids.

Even some flowers were blooming. A lone rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus or Ericameria) had fresh blossoms, much later in the season than normal, but Witch Hazel regularly blooms in the late autumn or early winter.

Here’s hoping that the remaining holidays allow you time to enjoy the great outdoors and discover your own hidden treasures and favorite (wild) things.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Kansas School Naturalist

Anyone with an interest in nature owes it to themselves to become familiar with The Kansas School Naturalist, a (highly) periodical journal devoted to all aspects of the natural world. I received my latest issues (below) about three weeks ago, but it has been at least one year since the last volume. The sporadic nature of this publication is its only drawback, however. The mission and content are outstanding.

The Kansas School Naturalist has been enlightening its audience since at least 1954, judging from the catalog that came with the newest additions. Just who is the audience, and how does it circulate? I’ll let the masthead inside the cover of each issue speak for itself:

”The Kansas School Naturalist is sent free of charge and upon request to teachers and anyone interested in natural history and nature education. In-print back issues are sent free as long as supply lasts. Out-of-print back issues are sent for one dollar photocopy and postage/handling charge per issue. The Kansas School Naturalist is sent free upon request by media mail to all U.S. zipcodes, first class to Mexico and Canada, and surface mail overseas. The Kansas School Naturalist is published by Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas. Postage paid at Emporia, Kansas. Address all correspondence to: Editor, Kansas School Naturalist, Department of Biological Sciences, Box 4050, Emporia State University, Emporia, KS 66801-5087. Opinions and perspectives expressed are those of the authors and/or editor and do not reflect the official position or endorsement of E.S.U. Some issues can be viewed online at: www.emporia.edu/ksn/ The Kansas School Naturalist is listed in Ulrich’s International Periodicals Directory, indexed in Wildlife Review/Fisheries Review, and appropriate issues are indexed in the Zoological Record. The KSN is an irregular publication issued from one to four times per year.

It is important to know that not every issue is restricted in its geographic treatment to the state of Kansas. Even if that were the case, Kansas is literally in the heartland of the U.S. and many species found there occur over much of North America east of the Rocky Mountains. The issue on centipedes and millipedes actually discusses global fauna.

All issues I have received have included plenty of images, often in color, and an easy-to-follow layout. A list of technical references is also included, such that the reader can pursue whatever level of additional scholarly information they so desire.

Once you are on the mailing list, you will receive all forthcoming issues for life (as near as I can tell, anyway). Inserted in each will be a little yellow slip politely requesting a donation in any amount to the Emporia State University Foundation, and applied to the Kansas School Naturalist. It is a worthy cause as this short note on the back of the donation slip indicates:

Dear Kansas School Naturalist Reader:
In 2004, we sent the millionth copy of Kansas School Naturalist free to teachers, scout leaders, librarians, and others upon request. While there is heavy readership within Kansas, the KSN serves readers nationwide and internationally. Grants and the grassroots contributions of readers are our major source of funds. Our high-interest, high-accuracy booklets authored by the experts in the field are a mainstay of science education in classrooms, labs, and fieldwork. To help the Kansas School Naturalist reach a new generation and raise environmental literacy, take a moment to contribute to the KSN endowment and underwrite…

I plan to donate again soon. I haven’t done so in awhile, and I need to alert them to my new address anyway. I just hope they don’t confuse me with an Emporia State U. alum again.