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Hosted by Chuck Lura, a biology professor at Dakota College in Bottineau. Chuck has a broad knowledge of “Natural North Dakota” and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Since 2005, he has written a weekly column, “Naturalist at Large,” for the Lake Metigoshe Mirror. His columns also appear under “The Naturalist” in several other weekly newspapers across North Dakota. Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Dakota College at Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.

Hosted by Chuck Lura, a biology professor at Dakota College in Bottineau. Chuck has a broad knowledge of “Natural North Dakota” and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Since 2005, he has written a weekly column, “Naturalist at Large,” for the Lake Metigoshe Mirror. His columns also appear under “The Naturalist” in several other weekly newspapers across North Dakota. Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Dakota College at Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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United States

Description:

Hosted by Chuck Lura, a biology professor at Dakota College in Bottineau. Chuck has a broad knowledge of “Natural North Dakota” and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Since 2005, he has written a weekly column, “Naturalist at Large,” for the Lake Metigoshe Mirror. His columns also appear under “The Naturalist” in several other weekly newspapers across North Dakota. Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Dakota College at Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.

Language:

English


Episodes

Bats and White-Nose Syndrome

7/20/2019
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Some of you may have heard the news that white-nose syndrome in bats was recently documented in North Dakota. That is not good news. The first documentation of white-nose syndrome in North America was in New York state in 2007. Where it came from and how it got here is still unknown. But we do know that it is spreading rapidly and decimating populations of bats, with some populations experiencing a 90% or greater mortality. I haven’t seen recent estimates on mortality rates, but is was...

Duration:00:02:27

Lake Foam

7/13/2019
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I have been noticing a little foam on the shoreline of Lake Metigoshe recently. It is not rare during the summer, but it more generally is associated with the dying of algae and aquatic plants during the fall. When they die and decompose, some of the organic substances act as surfactants.

Duration:00:02:20

Grasshoppers Darken the Sun

7/8/2019
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I have been reading Military Life in Dakota – the journal of Philippe Regis de Trobriand , published in 1951 by the Alvord Memorial Commission. De Trobriand, a colonel in the Army, was assigned to a post at Fort Stevenson, Dakota Territory in 1867. Fort Stevenson, of course, was located near the Missouri River not far from present day Garrison. He would spend two and one-half years there, and his journal provides an interesting look at life at the post, and insight into the natural history...

Duration:00:02:35

Mycorrhizae

6/29/2019
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We all learned at an early age that plant roots serve to anchor the plant and absorb water and nutrients from the soil. It might surprise some of you, but the absorption part needs revising.

Duration:00:02:30

Plants and Animals of Our Youth

6/22/2019
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I saw a red-headed woodpecker flittering around the crown of a large oak tree recently. They were a common sight of my childhood, but I seldom see them anymore. And seeing that woodpecker immediately whisked me back in time.

Duration:00:02:21

Weasels

6/15/2019
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I happened to get a quick look at a weasel recently. It was a rather large one, so I am assuming it was a long-tailed weasel. Three species of weasels are native to our state, the long-tailed weasel, short-tailed weasel or ermine, and the least weasel. They vary in size, but all are brown above with whiteish-yellow undersides during the summer months and turn white during the winter.

Duration:00:02:29

Fairy Candelabra

6/8/2019
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It will be a while until the irises and lilies in our flower bed bloom. It is often the big and showy flowers that catch our attention. But right now amongst those irises and lilies is one of the smallest flowering plants native to North Dakota. This plant is not well known. To botanists it is ( Androsace occidentalis ). Perhaps the most recognized common name is western rock jasmine, but it also has another common name that is much more interesting and appropriate, fairy candelabra.

Duration:00:02:25

Cavity Nesting Birds

6/1/2019
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I was sitting on a downed tree in the Turtle Mountain aspen forest recently when a chickadee seemingly emerged from the trunk of a nearby aspen with something in its mouth. It flew to a nearby tree, dropped the object, then flew back into the tree. This was repeated several times.

Duration:00:02:32

Wild Strawberries

5/25/2019
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If the strawberries are not blooming near you, they will be soon. I am not talking about the garden strawberries. It might surprise some of you, but there are two strawberry species native to North Dakota.

Duration:00:02:17

Custer Mine

5/18/2019
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I recently heard someone openly wonder what was with all those hills along highway 83 near the turnoff to Garrison. No doubt many North Dakotans have passed that way and may have had the same question. Those hills are old mine spoils. A coal mine was in operation there from the 1940’s to the 1960. Keep in mind that this was before reclamation laws. Now of course, the overburden must be replaced and landscaped.

Duration:00:02:31

Yellow-Rumped Warblers

4/20/2019
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If you haven’t already noticed some small sparrow-sized birds flitting through the brush in your area, you should soon. And if you take a closer look, you are likely to see these birds are quite colorful. That is because the warblers are or will be passing through our area during their spring migration. Some, for example the American redstart, will even stay and nest in our state.

Duration:00:02:32

Aging Fish

3/30/2019
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I happened to see a picture of a scale of a fish recently, illustrating the age of the fish. Being able to age a fish could help fisheries managers with a variety of aspects of fisheries management, such as estimating growth rates, survival, and longevity. It could also help better understand aspects of habitat, food abundance and availability, and a myriad of other factors. But how could you age a fish?

Duration:00:02:42

Chaga

3/16/2019
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Have you ever heard of chaga? I recently saw a television spot about harvesting this fungus in northern Minnesota and selling it as a medicinal. Chaga is the common name for a bracket fungus ( Inonotus obliquus ) that parasitizes birch trees. A sterile conk grows just under the bark of the tree trunk, and as it grows it pushes outward, turns black, and looks as if the tree has been charred or burned. Some describe it as looking like burned charcoal. Eventually a fruiting structure will be...

Duration:00:02:21

Prairie Fire!

3/9/2019
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Picture this. It is early October, 1803. You are in what we now know as northeast North Dakota, near where the Park River flows into the Red River. You are keeping a journal, and part of the day’s entry is that “fire is raging at every point of the compass, thick clouds of smoke nearly deprive us of the sight of the sun, and at night the view from the top of my house is awful indeed.” Those are the observations of Alexander Henry.

Duration:00:02:36

Glacial Lake Agassiz

3/2/2019
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The Red River Valley, glacial Lake Agassiz. For many among us, that probably brings to mind rich farmland and perhaps a finger shaped lake from the end of the last ice age that covered the area along North Dakota/Minnesota border. It would have been fifty miles wide or so, with the southern end in bit south of where North and South Dakota meet Minnesota. The northern end would have been, well, not sure. At the margin of the glacier, somewhere up by Winnipeg, maybe.

Duration:00:02:45

Lichens

2/23/2019
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“Manitoba has official bird, tree and flower so why not lichen?” that title of a recent article on the website of the CBC caught my attention. A group of lichenologists in Canada are orchestrating an effort to establish a National Lichen, as well as Provincial Lichens. They do admit, however, that the effort is really to draw attention to these interesting but often overlooked and unappreciated organisms.

Duration:00:02:49

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

2/16/2019
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We have had a red-breasted nuthatch coming to our bird feeders regularly this winter. I have not seen more than one at a time, so I am guessing it is a loner. At any rate, this bird always provides some good entertainment while is seemingly goes about its mission.

Duration:00:02:38

Folklore and Predicting the Weather

2/2/2019
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Today, February 2, is Groundhog Day. Good luck finding a groundhog that is confused enough to come out of hibernation and stick its head out of its hole. And of course, whether it sees its shadow or not has no bearing on when spring arrives. It might surprise you, but the origins of Groundhog Day can be traced back to before Christ when February 2 was the “Feast of Lights,” because it was considered the midpoint of winter. That morphed into a Christian celebration called Candlemas (“Candle...

Duration:00:02:50

Bull Elk

1/26/2019
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I recently had the good fortune of getting a good look at four bull elk in the Turtle Mountains while cross country skiing. When one thinks of elk in North Dakota the badlands and Theodore Roosevelt National Park may come to mind. I suspect that few among us are unaware that the Turtle Mountains supports a sizeable elk population.

Duration:00:02:44

Snowy Owls

1/12/2019
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I recently traveled west from Bottineau on Highway 5 around mid-morning. By the time I got to the Highway 14 turnoff to Kramer, I had seen four snowy owls. Most of them in the first half of the 11-mile stretch. I have not kept records of my snowy owl observations per mile, but that has to be some kind of record. I did a quick internet search to learn if an irruption is occurring this winter, but that came up empty. As many of you know, snowy owls are a species of the tundra. But like many...

Duration:00:02:58