Chuck Lura | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Chuck Lura


We are coming upon spring cleaning time if it has not started already.  It is time to do some outdoor yard work and the like.  But when it comes to clearing out those old dead or dying trees and branches, you might want to reconsider, unless there is some potential for damage to person and property.  

The sharp-tailed grouse have put on their dancing shoes!  The males, that is.  As dawn breaks across the grasslands over much of North Dakota from roughly April through May, the sounds of what can be described as the faint muffled hammering of a jackhammer along with an abundance of clucking and cackling can occasionally be heard off in the distance.  Those sounds, which may carry for a half a mile or more, announce the annual courtship displays of the male sharp-tailed grouse.  The objective, of course is to impress the judges, the hens, that they are the best mate around. 

Bird Longevity

Apr 3, 2021


Some of you may have heard the news recently about the seventy-year-old albatross that hatched another chick.  It got me thinking about the life span of our feathered friends.  I have wondered for example if it is the same bald eagle I have been seeing during the spring and fall migration in the same tree on the shoreline of Lake Metigoshe, or the wrens in our birdhouse are the same birds as last year.  We may have a tendency to think that some of these birds are the same ones, but that is probably not accurate.

Hood’s Phlox

Mar 27, 2021
Chuck Lura


April is just about here, so that old saying “April showers bring May flowers” might come to mind.  But we do not have to wait until May.  The earliest of our flowering plants start coming into bloom in April, and Hood’s phlox is one of them.

March Full Moon

Mar 20, 2021


The calendar tells us that the season is changing.  But for many early cultures the change of seasons and annual cycle was marked by the occurrence of full moons, and we have a full moon coming up on the 28th.   As most everyone knows, the full moons were so significant to early cultures that they were given names.  

Rabbits and Hares

Mar 13, 2021


I have been seeing tracks of snowshoe hares during my outings in the Turtle Mountain forest, although I have yet to see one.  It might surprise you, but they are native to North Dakota.  Historically they could be found in Turtle Mountain, Pembina Hills, around Devils Lake, Killdeer Mountains, and wooded areas along the Red, Mouse, and Missouri Rivers.  

The Power of Wonder

Mar 6, 2021


It has been a long winter, and my thoughts are turning to spring.  But I have been doing more reading this winter including rereading portions of Sigurd Olson’s Runes of the North, first published in 1963.

For those of you unfamiliar with Sigurd Olson, he was a highly respected environmentalist, interpretive naturalist, and author.  He is perhaps best known for his successful efforts to establish the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota.  


Feb 27, 2021

I had the good fortune recently to get a good look at eight moose, most with antlers!  They were strolling through a harvested small grain field west of Bottineau.  I bet they were not three hundred yards away.  We pulled off the highway and watched them for several minutes.  They are magnificent animals, but they look like they were designed by a committee! 

Underfit Rivers

Feb 20, 2021


Coming down Minot’s north hill recently, I was again struck by the immensity of the Souris River Valley compared to the relatively small flowage of the present-day Souris River.  How could that large valley have formed?  The Souris River is an underfit river, sometimes called a misfit river.  The river valley indicates a much larger river formed the valley in the past.  Other rivers, including the Pembina, James, and Sheyenne rivers formed in a similar fashion. 


The comings and goings at our bird feeders has been rather routine this winter.  We are getting the usual chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, pine siskins, downy and hairy woodpeckers on a regular basis.  But we are seeing a few red-breasted nuthatches coming in for the suet and sunflower seeds.