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Chuck Lura

Host, Natural North Dakota

Chuck Lura has a broad knowledge of "Natural North Dakota"and loves sharing that knowledge with others. Since 2005, Chuck has written a weekly column, “Naturalist at Large,” for the Lake Metigoshe Mirror, and his “The Naturalist” columns appear in several other weekly North Dakota newspapers.

Lura has was a long-time biology professor at Dakota College at Bottineau, publishing research on ecological aspects of grasslands in the northern Great Plains. In retirement, he continues to share his Natural North Dakota essays for the Prairie Public audience.

  • Both grasslands and birds are rapidly decreasing in Canada — less than 15% of the native grasslands remain. To address the issue, Birds Canada has developed the Bird-Friendliness Index.
  • If you like to watch falling stars, this next month or so is a good time to see them. The Lyrids meteor shower will start soon, and it overlaps with the Eta Aquarids meteor shower. Between the two, the show will run to the end of May.
  • Shortly after beginning their journey down the Missouri River in April of 1805 after spending the winter at Fort Mandan, Meriwether Lewis wrote in his journal about an animal that Captain Clark had recently observed: “Captain Clark walked on shore today and informed on his return, that passing through the prairie he had seen an animal that precisely resembled the burrowing squirrel, accept in point of size, it being only about one third as large as the squirrel, and that it also burrows.”
  • It seems that every year when spring comes around, we are ready to go outdoors. Nature has much to offer, but all too often summer arrives, and we realize we did not get to enjoy the spring like we had hoped.
  • The short days of winter are starting to fade away as the days continue to lengthen. And next Wednesday, March 20, is the spring equinox.
  • If you have never been to the petrified forest in Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s South Unit, you might want to consider doing so this year. And even if you have been there before, another visit to see these remnants of another time is a worthwhile experience.
  • I recently happened upon the above map of the Red River Watershed. I suspect that the watershed is much larger than most of us would think.
  • One of Prairie Public’s more popular television shows is Nature. Some of you may have seen the episode a few weeks ago on shorebird migrations. The show addressed how shorebirds navigate the trip, the risks of migration, and how human activity is creating problems for the birds. One of the shorebirds featured was the marbled godwit on its migration from Panama to the Dakotas.
  • January is in the rearview mirror, as is a good portion of February. And whether Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow or not, no self-respecting North Dakota groundhog would stick their head out of the burrow in early February. Any thoughts of spring are premature. Or are they?
  • The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up next week, February 16-19. This annual citizen science effort is a collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada to help scientists better understand the bird population dynamics and movements.