Natural North Dakota

Saturday and Sunday at 8:35 am CT
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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 been a biology professor at Dakota College at Bottineau since 1984, and he publishes research on ecological aspects of grasslands in the northern Great Plains.

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.

Sand and Gravel Pits

Jul 19, 2018

We have all heard it.  “There are two seasons in North Dakota, winter and road construction.”   Of course, that is a tongue in cheek proclamation.  But however you define the road construction season, one thing is certain, gravel and sand pits are going to be busy places.  Many of us see this activity, but I suspect that few of us have given much thought as to how these sand and gravel pits were formed. 

 

Most all North Dakotans are familiar with the flickertail or Richardson’s ground squirrel.  They are quite common over most areas of the state north and east of the Missouri River. And of course, North Dakota is occasionally referred to as the “Flickertail State.”

Scarlet Globemallow

Jun 19, 2018
Chuck Lura

One of my favorite wildflowers on the prairie is scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea).  It is also known as red false mallow and another common name, but more on that later. Its flowering period in North Dakota runs roughly from June through the first half of July.

Prairie Coneflower

Jun 14, 2018
Chuck Lura

One of the most widely recognized prairie wildflowers is the prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera).  Also known as long-headed coneflower and upright prairie coneflower, the species ranges over prairies from Canada to Mexico, particularly on well drained soils.  If it is not in flower in your area now, it will be soon.  The flowering period generally runs from June through August here in North Dakota. 

Scorpius

Jun 14, 2018

Perhaps like me, you are getting comfortable with warm summer nights.  And if the sky is clear and the mosquitoes tolerable, one of the advantages of those warm nights is being able to observe the constellations and other sky objects in relative comfort. 

 

Some people may associate Fort Stevenson State Park with fishing.  But even though the park lies along the shores of Lake Sakakawea just south of Garrison, there is much more to see and do here than fish.

 


If you have some wetlands, wet meadows, fens, and the like around your area, now might be a good time to go check them out.  

 


You have likely noticed that the red-winged blackbirds are busy in area wetlands. This blackbird with the red epaulets is one of the most recognizable birds here in North Dakota and one of the most abundant birds in North America.  

Russian Thistle

May 16, 2018

 


Some of you may have seen or heard the news recently about the tumbleweeds invading areas of California and Utah.  

American Avocet

May 5, 2018

As we travel about North Dakota during the spring, the lakes, marshes, and temporary potholes in the fields are often a hub of avian activity.  

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