I would like to extend a personal invitation to you and your family to come and check out the exciting new exhibits at Burr Oak Woods. We are excited to present an all new childrens' area inside the nature center. it is a place where imaginations can soar as the wild creatures inside the area are as large as the children. Kid's can become birds in the canopy of a large Burr Oak Tree. they can put on a puppet show or slide through a hollow log.
It is our goal at the nature center to foster exploration in the great outdoors with your family. Take a walk on the Discovery Trail just outside our backdoors and you might get a extra surprise with our brand new Discover Nature Classroom. This classroom is an all natural place to enjoy some quality unstructured play time together. The Classroom is a work in prgress, but is more than ready to be enjoyed by you and your family. Let us know what you think!
Excitement stirs in the air at Burr Oak Woods. It is special event week and we are indeed excited about this event, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Missouri Department of Conservation. We will celebrate success stories of wildlife restoration by the citizens of Missouri.
In 1937, many Missouri residents became aware of the rapidly dwindling numbers of wildlife in the state. In 1976, innovative visionaries passed the 1/8 of 1 percent sales tax with the Design for Conservation. Throughout the past 75 years, MDC has worked closely with it citizens to restore healthy diversity in the Fish Forests and wildlife to the state.
On Friday, April 27th, at 6:00 pm Burr Oak Woods will celebrate these efforts with you in a free fun-filled event, suitable for the entire family. There will be wild crafts and hands-on activities for all ages.
Rub elbows with the stars! Become part of the glitz and glamour at the 75th anniversary Wildlife Academy Awards. The awards are hosted by everyone’s favorite celeb, Billy Chrysalis. Don’t forget to your camera! The rumor mill has it that Joan Rivers-Streams will be at Burr Oak Woods with her Red Carpet Rundown and that many of the stars will be on hand for photo ops and autographs!
Call 816 228 3766 to register.
Something is different today. I can feel it immediately as I step out the door. Did you hear that? The chorus frogs begin to call in earnest, announcing the onset of spring! The fragrance of delicate new life wafts on gentle breezes against my cheek. We have all waited impatiently for these first warming rays of spring! But beware! Spring is an ephemeral season. (Ephemeral as defined by Webster: adj: 1. Lasting a short time 2. Lasting or living but a day; noun: an ephemeral thing or organism.) Spring showers and soft breezes will soon concede to the heat and sun of a Midwestern summer.
The subtle appearance of the spring wildflower as it peeks through the decaying leaf fall of a previous autumn, lifts the winter gloom from even the heaviest heart, and offers to us a sense of rebirth. Do not dally! Hurry into the forest and inhale the sweet fragrance…touch the delicate petals to your nose…for they will not be with us long. Like the fleeting season of spring, the riotous color of a wildflower is also ephemeral.
As if on cue from the wildflowers, insects begin to emerge from their deep over-wintering secrets. Even though insects may seem incredibly persistent to us, they too, are ephemerals. Mayflies, for example, are an amazing order of insects that scientists recognize as Ephemeropterans. They spend much of their lives as aquatic nymphs beneath the surface of flowing streams and windswept lakes. Adult glory is as ephemeral as the delicate spring wildflower. These insects emerge from the water’s surface only to live for a few hours to a couple of weeks, at best. There is no time to eat! Do not dally! This is the time to mate so that they might complete the cycle of life and insure the survival of their species.
Such poor insignificant creatures, these flowers and insects! It is better to be human. We live such a long and sheltered life. We witness the glory of numerous seasons as they come and go.
One day, I watched a small boy delight in the wonders of nature. He discovered the secrets that were held by the giant elm tree within the forest. I had missed these secrets with my trained eye, dulled by the complacency of adulthood. In his simple pleasure, I discovered the truth. The enchantment of childhood is truly ephemeral. In but a moment in time children become adults with eyes that have already seen all…just like our own! Do not hesitate! Take a small hand within your own and step out into nature. Experience the magic through their eyes. Share the natural world with them today, that they may hold the earth dear in their hearts tomorrow. Do not hesitate! Seize this very day, for childhood is truly an ephemeral season.
Dancing with the Stars
The talk around Burr Oak Woods is all about the dance of the American Woodcock. Dancing with the Stars contestants have nothing on this jaunty little fellow!
Last night just as crimson and orange began to diminish in the evening sky, we heard it. Eyes and ears strained in the direction of the sound. “peent!” With senses on high alert, we waited for the next nasal“peent!” There it is! Eyes are wide and the children are pointing toward the western horizon.
The male Woodcock has taken flight in search of a chunky little mate. He flies ever higher with twittering wings in wide elaborate spirals, easily attaining heights of over 300 feet. We almost lose him in our field of view. Suddenly, he chirps and drops from the sky in a death-defying zig-zagging movement, landing silently on the ground with hopes that the female that has gained his attention is nearby to see his spectacular courtship display. Only moments later we begin to hear his “peent” once again.
We seldom get a glimpse of this strange mottled-brown bird of the shorebird family at any other time of the year. Also known as timberdoodles, they live in brushy, early successional forests, easily camouflaging on the forest floor where they probe for worms with their long bills. They have a prehensile bill, similar to that of an elephant’s trunk, used to pluck worms from the soil.
Their strange dance is a phenomenal early sign of spring. We stand mesmerized on the prairie at Burr Oak Woods until the sun’s rays fade away from the sky. “Each of us know that we witnessed something very special,” Phillip Brinkley, naturalist, states. “To see this amazing display that only occurs for a week or two each spring and only for a short window of time each evening is something that few people ever witness.
Come out to Burr Oak Woods with your family, (don’t forget the gates close at 8:00 DST) for your chance to witness his dance. The courtship ritual has been seen on the north section of the conservation area off of Strode Road, and on the east prairie just west of the Missouri Tree Trail. This is one episode of Dancing with the Stars is one you’ll not soon forget!
The Good Fairy
If I had influence over the good fairy who is supposed to reside over the christening off all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world would be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.
Our breath lingers in the frosty night air like fog rising from a pond. It is really dark outside. There is a strong sense of expectation as we tiptoe along the trail, single file toward the prairie. We are fox walkers on silent pads. We do not speak. We carry no flashlights, but our widening eyes, heightened sense of hearing, and quickening heartbeats belie this silence. We are not afraid, but anticipate the experience.
We are swallowed by the night, disappearing into the midst of the native grasses that seem to reach out to the stars on this night. Each of us is alone; a single atom in this vast universe. We slowly relax upon our backs, nestling into the tall grasses. Gradually, the night forgets that we have intruded. The grass begins to sway again in intricate dance steps in the strong arms of the north wind. An owl hoots softly in the distance.
Can stars be captured within our hands? On this magic night they are within our grasp if we can stretch our fingers just a little further. Is that Orion the Hunter? Does someone else lie upon their backs against one of those stars contemplating life here?
There is a rustle in the grass just above my head. There it is again. My eyes rotate in that direction. No other portion of my body moves. Not my hands, not even the rise and fall of my chest. Funny, I discover that I am not afraid of the unknown, but curious. Is it a skunk? Could it be a little field mouse? As I muse this lack of fear, I understand with the absolute clarity of this infinite winter sky, that I am a part of the natural world! I am a part, however small and insignificant I may feel at this moment. I want to sing out to the tree tops, but I embrace it inside like a most delightful secret. I wonder…
I feel a great sigh build from deep inside of me. It is with regret that I pull myself to a sitting position. It seems almost sacrilegious to break the stillness of the night with my voice, so I speak in a whisper to gather the families back together. Although the stillness of the night has been breached, we walk back to the nature center without speaking, each lost in our own thoughts.
At Burr Oak Woods we strive to forge connections between our visitors and the natural world through total immersion programs such as the one described. We believe in creative imagination and in magic of moments such as these, but let’s face it, there is no good fairy. Children cannot care for that which they do not know and these lessons cannot be learned from the virtual world. We use the television and internet to travel around the globe, but often have not been introduced to the sights, and sounds, and scents of nature right outside our own backdoor.
Discover Nature Family programs at Burr Oak Woods are designed to facilitate exploring nature together. Join us for a program at Burr Oak Woods. Become a mentor for a child. Nature is a precious gift that you can give a child. You can become the good fairy. They will treasure this gift for their entire life.