Natural North Dakota | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Natural North Dakota

Saturday and Sunday at 8:35 am CT
  • Hosted by Prairie Public

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 was a biology professor at Dakota College at Bottineau, and published research on ecological aspects of grasslands in the northern Great Plains.

Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.

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Aug 22, 2020


It must be a good year for thistles.  It seems that most everywhere I look there are thistles in bloom.  They really can be quite attractive.  But of course, thistles have a bad reputation, largely because they are prickly, and two of them are listed by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture as noxious weeds.  Both species, however, are introduced (the Canada and musk thistle).  


Aug 15, 2020


We have some chipmunks living around our home, and they provide us with some good entertainment. They are pretty tame, so I am hoping they don’t try to take up residence in our garage or worse yet, our house.  

  If you have been seeing some falling stars in the last few days it is probably because we are into perhaps the best meteor shower of the year.  The earth is passing through the debris field of comet Swift-Tuttle from about July 17 to August 24.  

Common Yellowthroat

Aug 1, 2020


Here is a bit of a description of a bird from John James Audubon’s Birds of America:  “The notes of this little bird render it more conspicuous than most of its genus, for although they cannot be called very musical, they are far from being unpleasant, and are uttered so frequently during the day, that one, in walking along the briary ranges of the fences, is almost necessarily brought to listen to its whitititee, repeated three or four times every five or six minutes…”


You may recall that last week’s Natural North Dakota topic was about milkweed’s interesting pollination mechanisms.  I am still thinking about the common milkweed, but this time about fruit and seed production.    


Many years ago I took a garbage bag and set out to collect some flowers of the common milkweed for my botany labs.  I found a good patch of the milkweeds and proceeded to cut off the flower heads, letting them drop in the bag.  When I had collected enough flower heads I tied up the bag and put it in the prep room freezer for safe keeping.  

Catch a Falling Star

Jul 11, 2020


Oh how we love these warm summer nights.  And if you enjoy watching falling stars, you should be in for a treat over the next few weeks.  The Delta Aquarids and Perseids meteor showers are coming soon.  So it is time to find a dark location and do a little sky watching for a few evenings.  


Jul 4, 2020


You might be surprised to know that John James Audubon spent a goodly part of the summer of 1843 in North Dakota in and around Fort Union Trading Post.  As you might expect he and his associates spent much of their time documenting the flora and fauna of the area. 


While walking across a grassland or turfgrass in the early parts of the growing season a person may occasionally observe some dead patches of grass.  Some of these patches of dead grass even appear to have been dug up by some animal.  What is going on here?  


We all have various connections with nature. And some of those connections are etched in our minds and take us back in time to a particular experience.  Now with the Covid-19 on our minds, perhaps we have had more time to wax nostalgic with nature.  I certainly have.  

We have a few wren houses in our yard.  And when I heard the first house wren singing a few weeks ago I was transported back in time to my youth and my grandma’s backyard.  She had a wren house at each end of her clothesline and a couple others for good measure.  I mowed her lawn, and when the lawn was done, we would often sit in those old metal lawn chairs in her backyard and have a glass of Kool-Aid, always serenaded by the house wrens. To this day when I hear a house wren I often think of those good times with my grandma.