Natural North Dakota | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Natural North Dakota

Meandering Rivers

Sep 26, 2020
Google Earth



Look at an aerial photograph of most North Dakota rivers and you are likely to see it snake across the landscape in sinuous curves.  These are low energy rivers or meandering rivers, as opposed to the higher energy or braided rivers.  And if you look more closely, you are likely to see evidence of old channels and oxbows, evidence that these river channels have moved.

Blue Jays

Sep 19, 2020


Charles Flugum in his book Birding from a Tractor Seat had this to say about one of our feathered friends.  I wonder if you can identify the bird he is describing.    

“The flagrant rascal evidently enjoys hearing its own voice, putting forth its utmost effort to make the loudest possible noise and bowing impressively to emphasize each call.”

Smooth Green Snake

Sep 12, 2020


I can remember the first time I saw a smooth green snake.  It was sunning itself on a rock one morning many years ago on the Samuel H. Ordway Jr. Memorial Prairie west of Leola, SD.  That is 20 some miles across the state line southeast of Ashley.  


Sep 5, 2020


Have you been noticing the crickets chirping recently?  I suspect that most of us enjoy hearing them outdoors during the evening hours.  

Crickets can be found over much of the world except the higher latitudes. Worldwide there are over 2000 species.  And there are over 100 species in the United States and a dozen or so here in North Dakota, including the northern field cricket and the house cricket.


When I drive across the North Dakota landscape I often think back to what the grasslands would have looked like a couple hundred years ago.  No farmsteads and fields, oil wells, transmission lines, etc. Needless to say, the landscape has changed. But thanks to some old written records as well as more recent descriptions, we can get a sense of what that landscape looked like.  


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.  

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.