© 2021
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Chuck Lura

Host, Natural North Dakota
  • I recently read a study about the Dakota skipper. The Dakota skipper is a small butterfly, with a wingspan of around one inch. Coloration is variable between the sexes with the upper wing surface of males a towny-orange to brown while females are a darker brown and spotted. The underside of males is dusty yellow-orange and females gray-brown with spots.
  • Have you ever heard of milk sickness? It is caused by consuming contaminated milk containing a toxin from the white snakeroot plant (Ageratina altissima). I had not heard of the sickness or the plant until recently, assumedly because the sickness is rare to nonexistent, and the plant uncommon or rare and not widely distributed in North Dakota.
  • I have heard a few complaints on all the tree sap that has dripped on cars this summer. My car is usually parked under the canopy of some ash, aspen, and oak. Little drops of that stuff are all over the car, and it has not been easy to clean it off the windshield! But it is probably not sap!
  • I recently noticed some Impatiens growing amongst some cattails in Turtle Mountain. It is always a treat to see this interesting plant, also known as jewelweed, or touch-me-not.Two species of touch-me-nots are native to North Dakota. The more common and widely distributed species is the spotted touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis). It can be found roughly east of a line from Bottineau County to Sargent County along stream banks, springs, and other wet habitats, particularly in wooded areas.
  • I recently noticed something small and dead lying on the hiking and biking trail at Lake Metigoshe. It was obviously a small mammal, grayish brown, with the total length, including tail, of maybe three inches. It also had a long-pointed snout and small eyes. That is a shrew! Based on what I could determine, it was probably a masked shrew, which is the smallest and most common shrew in the state.
  • A friend recently told me all about the Baltimore orioles they had been observing, complete with a cell phone picture of the oriole feeding on a half an orange at their feeder.Most everyone is familiar with the Baltimore oriole, but it might surprise you that North Dakota has three species of orioles. The Baltimore oriole and the orchard oriole range over much of the state. The orchard oriole is darker with the orange being less prominent. The bullock’s oriole may be found southwest of the Missouri River. It is a chunkier oriole with brighter coloration, and unlike the Baltimore oriole which has a dark head, the bullocks head is orange with a black cap and eye stripe.
  • If you like watching falling stars, you are in for a treat. We are already into one of the best meteor showers, and with a little luck, it could turn out to be the best show of the year.The Perseids Meteor Shower began on July 17 and will run through August 24 with the peak viewing period coming up on the night of August 12th and early morning hours of the 13th with perhaps up to 60 meteors or more per hour. There is a new moon on August 8, and the moon will be waxing toward a crescent moon which will set during the early evening hours during the peak viewing period. That is all good news for viewers! Now all we need is a clear sky!
  • There are a lot of cottonwood tree leaves lying in an area on the Lake Metigoshe hiking and biking trail. All of them are green with a large round growth, or gall, on the leave stalk or petiole. It made me wonder what was going on. So I had to do a little investigating.
  • Poison ivy occasionally comes up in conversation. The conversation is generally on how to identify this infamous plant. Perhaps a little refresher on identification might be helpful.
  • Have you been hearing this bird song this summer? We have been hearing these calls frequently this summer emanating from a small thick stand of aspen and shrubs. It sounds like there are several birds in there. But occasionally we get the opportunity to see the source, which is a catbird, or gray catbird to be more precise. No doubt some of you recognized the song.