Monthly Archives: May 2014

Woodchuck (Marmota monax)


Photo Credit: Miroslav Halama

Woodchucks or “groundhogs” are the largest member of the squirrel family in Kansas where they live in shrublands, woodlands, and even uncultivated croplands. Their senses of vision, olfaction and hearing are acute. Their fur has two types of hair: a layer of short softer hair and longer guard hairs that protrude above these. They can both swim and climb trees. During the summer they eat wild forbs, bark and tree buds but may also eat alfalfa and grain crops if available. Their incisors grow continuously as they wear down from gnawing. Woodchucks dig extensive burrows with their flat raccoon like paws. The burrow includes a grass-lined nesting chamber where they hibernate in the winter with reduced heart rates (four beats/minute) and body temperatures close to the ambient temperature of the underground den. A litter of 4-5 kits is born in April or May.

Kansas Backyard Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program

This program is sponsored by the Chickadee Checkoff of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas Wildlife Federation.

       This program was initiated in 1985 to help homeowners improve their backyards for wildlife. Kansans share a common interest — they enjoy watching wildlife. Surveys show a large majority of Kansans annually participate in wildlife watching activities. Many people have developed their backyards or other associated areas for attracting wildlife to help satisfy this desire. This may be as easy as adding a few select shrubs and a watering area or it might be as complex as establishing native prairie, trees, shrubs and a small pond. The possibilities are as numerous as the number of backyards and other areas in cities and towns throughout Kansas. 

You can apply to certify your backyard by using an application: KS Backyard Wildlife Habitat

If you manage for wildlife in your backyard, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism would like to give you credit through the Backyard Wildlife Habitat Certification Program. This program gives recognition to citizens who improve living conditions for wildlife on their property. The Backyard Wildlife Habitat Certification Program is not restricted to home owners. Residents of high-rise apartment balconies and places of business can apply also.
Just follow the directions on the back of this brochure and send it to the Pratt Operations Office with $5. Once approved, you will receive a handsome certificate and an attractive sign to display in your yard. Your name will be included on future mailing lists for special backyard wildlife materials. Good luck with your efforts!


All workshops are free and open to the public

PRATT – Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are pleased to announce their summer slate of upland habitat tours and workshops, beginning May 28. A total of 15 workshops and tours will be held around the state, hosted by Pheasants Forever Farm Bill wildlife biologists with the assistance of local area partners and statewide partners, including the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Workshop topics will range from “Landscaping for Pollinators” (geared toward backyard conservationists and youth educators) to a cover crop tour and roundtable discussions with Kansas farmers. All workshops are free and open to the public; however some will require an RSVP due to space limitations or meals being provided. Most events will be half a day or shorter to accommodate attendees’ busy summer schedules. A complete list of events can be found below.

For more information, visit, or contact Senior Farm Bill Biologist, Zac Eddy, at (620) 338-7132 or [email protected].

•What Can We Do For Our Pheasants and Quail?

May 28, 10 a.m.

Salina Public Library – 301 W. Elm – Salina

•What Can We Do For Our Pheasants and Quail?

May 29, 9 a.m.

Dickinson County K-State Extension Meeting Room – 712 S. Buckeye Ave – Abilene

•What Can We Do For Our Pheasants and Quail?

May 29, 2 p.m.

McPherson County K-State Extension Meeting Room – 600 W. Woodside – McPherson

•Quality Deer Management in the 21st century Benefits Upland Bird Management (1st in the Series)

June 4, 6:30 p.m.

Marysville City Hall – 209 North 8th St – Marysville

•Upland Game Bird Habitat Management and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Programs

June 9, 8:30 a.m.

Town and Country Kitchen – Norton

•Quality Deer Management in the 21st century Benefits Upland Bird Management (2nd in the Series)

June 17, 6:30 p.m.

HHC Klinefelter Barn – 1774 230th – Hiawatha

•Pheasant Focus Area

June 17, TBD

Glen Elder Wildlife Area – Glen Elder

•Where are all the Pheasants? – Habitat Management 101

June 19, 9 a.m.

Midwest Energy Community Room – Hoxie

•Brood Rearing Habitat Tour

June 19, 6:30 p.m.

1152 G Road – Centralia

•Quail Habitat Tour

June 2, 10 a.m.

Meet at the corner of Brush Creek Rd and Forrester Rd – South of Westmoreland on Hwy 99

•Cover Crops Roundtable and Tour

June 24, 9 a.m.

The Gateway – Oberlin

•Quality Deer Management in the 21st century Benefits Upland Bird Management (3rd in the Series)

June 24, 6 p.m.

Seneca Library – 606 Main St – Seneca

•Quail Management: Bugs, Brush, Burns, and Beef

June 28, 9 a.m.

Byron Walker Wildlife Area – Cunningham

•Pheasant Focus Area

July 25, TBD

Glen Elder Wildlife Area – Glen Elder

•Landscaping for Pollinators

July 26, 9 a.m.

301 Walnut St – Centralia

Scott O’Dell Outdoor Youth Event May 31st

PRATT ­– The Marion County chapter of Quail Forever, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers invite youth age 8 through 16 to attend a free shooting clinic May 31.  From 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., participants will receive instruction and experience with shotguns, air rifles, and archery shooting in a controlled, safe, live fire environment.

Participants will be provided safety and shooting instruction by certified firearm and archery skills instructors. All equipment and supplies will be provided courtesy of KDWPT’s “Pass It On” and Hunter Education programs. Participants are required to pre-register for the event, and are not required to have completed a hunter education course, however prior completion is preferred.

Attendees will meet at the French Creek campground, one mile North of Highway 56 on Kanza Rd, and one mile East on 210th. Following the shooting clinic, participants can enjoy lunch courtesy of Quail Forever, and a prize giveaway.

This event is limited to the first 50 participants who pre-register, so call today to reserve your spot. For more information, and to register for this event, contact Marion Wildlife Area biologist, Scott Amos at (620) 732-3946.Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 5.40.48 PM

Green Dragonfly

Photo Credit: Neahga Leonard

Dragonflies (Odonata) are winged insects with six legs but we remember their two pairs of wings most with their rapid beat and the elaborate venation.  Their aquatic larvae (nymphs) develop from eggs deposited upon floating aquatic vegetation or in the water. These larvae actually spend as much as two to five years below water feeding upon mosquito larvae and even tiny tadpoles or fish.  They eventually climb out of the water and shed their skin to become an adult. As an adult they live a year unless migrating to climates that do not freeze. While migrating, some dragonflies travel anywhere from a few miles to a hundred miles a day. They can only fly in warm temperatures, coming to rest when temperatures drop, even when it becomes cloudy. They resemble damselflies. But, at rest, dragonflies extend their wings laterally (90 degress away from their bodies) while damselflies hold their wings close to their bodies.

Green Dragonfly:       Photo Credit: Neahga Leonard

Green Dragonfly: Photo Credit: Neahga Leonard

Help weary wildlife migrants the May

The National Wildlife Federation has these suggestions to help migratory wildlife:

May is the perfect time to garden for wildlife in your yard since so many species are returning to the United States after a long winter. Some birds and butterflies will travel thousands of miles this spring and are looking for a place to rest and refuel.

Since May is Garden for Wildlife Month, now is the perfect time to get your garden ready to welcome these weary migrants!

Hummingbirds: Some rufous hummingbirds will fly more than 2,000 miles this spring. After wintering in Southern Mexico and Central America, the ruby-throated hummingbird returns to the United States often times by flying over the Gulf of Mexico. After a flight that long, they’ll be looking for a place to refuel. Attract them with red, tubular flowers to offer nectar.

Warblers: Dozens of species of warblers migrate through the United States this spring throughout April and May. Some species of this beautiful bird are thought to be declining, likely because of habitat loss in their wintering habitat. Once they return to the United States, you can welcome them with a place to get a quick drink or a suet feeder to supplement the insects they primarily eat.

Monarch: The majestic monarch can travel hundreds or thousands of miles, guided only by an internal “compass” that shows them the way. Monarchs have been declining in recent years due to habitat loss, climate change and a reduction in their favorite food, milkweed. Because it’s also a host plant for monarch caterpillars, planting milkweed is a great way to ensure these beauties call your yard home.

This is a critical time for so many species. A great way to ensure you are doing your part for birds, butterflies and other wildlife is to turn your yard, garden or balcony into an official Certified Wildlife Habitat® site! When you do, you’ll be providing wildlife with the elements crucial to their survival. And if you certify before May 31, we’ll plant a tree in your honor to celebrate Garden for Wildlife Month.

Benefits of Certification:

♦ Personalized certificate

♦ Listing in NWF’s National Registry of certified habitats

♦ One year membership to NWF*

♦ 6 bi-monthly issues of National Wildlife© magazine

♦ Eligibility to purchase beautiful yard signs

♦ Limited time offer: A tree planted in your honor!

Thanks for doing your part for the neighborhood wildlife that need you. Certify today!

Sternberg Museum Summer Science Camp Schedule

We are super excited about our science camp offerings this summer, and have lots of fun, fascinating activities planned!

Registration deadlines are fast approaching, so if you or a kid you know wants to participate, please turn your registration forms in by the following sign-up deadlines:

May 23rd: Last day to register for Fun With Fossils
May 26th: Last day to register for Junior Reptiles and Amphibians
May 30th: Last day to register for Paleontology Expedition
June 2nd: Last day to register for Marvelous Mammals
June 5th: Last day to register for Bird Biologists
June 9th: Last day to register for Reptiles and Amphibians
June 20th: Last day to register for Junior Bird Biologists
June 3rd: Last day to register for Junior Plants, Insects, and Spiders
July 3rd: Last Day to register for Paleontology Field Crew
July 25th: Last day to register for Rocks and Minerals
July 28th: Last day to register for Plants, Insects, and Spiders
August 1st: Last day to register for Junior Marvelous Mammals
August 4th: Last day to register for Junior Rocks and Minerals

For more information about all of these exciting new summer camp programs, please visit our camps page! 

You can also contact our education director at [email protected].

Marcella Kay McCluskey
Public Relations Intern
Sternberg Museum of Natural History
3000 Sternberg Drive
Hays, KS 67601
[email protected]

2014 National Walnut Council Meeting June 8-11

The four-day event will feature much more than just the black walnut

The Kansas Forest Service, Kansas Chapter of the Walnut Council, Kansas Tree Farm Committee, and the Kansas Forestry Association will host the 2014 “Walnuts in the Wild West” National Walnut Council Meeting, June 8-11, in Manhattan. This unique opportunity will feature both nationally-recognized and local experts in the growth, culture and utilization of black walnut, and other fine quality hardwoods. Landowners, farmers, ranchers, natural resource professionals, scientists, and forest industry representatives will benefit from attending this event.

The meeting will kick-off Sunday afternoon with a tour of the 8,616-acre Konza Prairie, followed by a tour and reception at the FlintHillsDiscoveryCenter. Monday and Tuesday tours will be offered at the privately-owned Chase-Riat Walnut Plantation and KansasStateUniversity’s Geyer Forestry Research Area where sessions will be held on pruning, tree planting, when to thin, wildlife habitat, and a variety of other topics. Event activities will conclude Wednesday with guest speakers, a state chapter report, and door prize drawings.

Participants do not need to be a member of the Walnut Council to attend; however pre-registration by May 26 is encouraged. The Four Points by Sheraton, 530 Richards Drive, Manhattan, will serve as the event hub. To reserve a room, call (785) 539-5311.

For more information or to register for this event, contact Walnut Council executive director, Liz Jackson, at (765) 583-3512, or by e-mail at [email protected].

Ticks are Out, Be In-the-Know

Kansas’ ticks can be active until midsummer or later

Ticks are stealthy, opportunistic arachnids that make their debut in spring just as temperatures begin to rise. How to prevent becoming a host to these hitchhikers and the various diseases they may carry isn’t a mystery, but it has to be methodical. Here are a few simple precautions that can reduce your chances of a tick encounter this season.

Tip #1: Since most ticks crawl upward onto a host, tuck pant legs into boots and shirts into pants. For extra protection, tape such clothing junctures with duct tape, then twist the tape so the sticky side is out and make one more wrap.

Tip #2: Wear light-colored clothing when possible. This makes it easier to see ticks crawling around before they find their way to your skin.

Tip #3: Look for a repellent that contains 0.5 percent or more of permethrin. This works as a great tick repellent and can usually be used on clothing. In fact, some products containing the chemical can remain bonded with clothing fibers even through laundering.

Tip #4: After a day outdoors, inspect all clothing before going inside. Once inside, do a thorough body inspection and wash clothing as soon as possible.

Tip #5: Don’t forget to protect man’s best friend. Commercially available dog dips containing amitrax or permethrin can provide canines with tick protection for two to three weeks per treatment. For the very best tick prevention for canines, contact your local veterinarian and inquire about prescribed treatment options, most of which can now last for a month or more.

If a tick is found attached to the skin, remove it as soon as possible and disinfect the immediate area. The sooner a tick is removed, the less chance it will transmit a disease to its host. Ticks can be removed manually by grasping as close to the skin as possible with fine forceps or tweezers. The tick is then pulled slowly straight away from the skin, using slow, steady pressure. The tick should not be twisted or jerked out of the skin because this might cause the head to become detached and left in the skin. Ticks removed from people should be saved in a vial with alcohol and labeled with the date. If flu-like symptoms – including, headache, skin rash, and fever – occur 10 to 14 days after tick removal, see a physician immediately and take the tick with you or send it to the local K-State Research and Extension office.

One of the most common diseases transmitted by ticks is Lyme disease. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had nine confirmed cases and 10 probable cases of Lyme Disease within Kansas. To put things in perspective, Pennsylvania had 4,146 confirmed cases the same year.

After a tick bite, Lyme disease may progress several weeks without signs of illness, making diagnosis difficult. Years of pain and physical and mental impairment can result if untreated. If signs of severe or persistent headaches, fever, soreness or stiffness in muscles and joints, appetite loss, fatigue, or a skin rash occur within three weeks after a tick bite, immediately contact your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical.

Other notable tick-born diseases found in Kansas include ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia.

For more information, visit

Kansas Hunters Education Instructor Workshop June 19th

This Re-Certification and New Instructor Orientation workshop is for any Instructors wanting to add three years of certification credit to their training. The workshop will be held at the FlintHillsTechnicalCollege in Emporia on June 19th.

Certified, assistant and pending instructors within the Hunter, Bowhunter and Furharvester Education programs are all welcome to attend. The workshop will cover policies and procedures, materials, teaching techniques and navigating the instructor website.

Segments for Bowhunter and Furharvester Education will also be covered.