15 ways to discover nature while social distancing

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State parks, city parks, and many other outdoor gathering places are either closed or operating with reduced hours due to the ongoing pandemic.

However, spring is blooming all over the Heartland.

Despite the coronavirus disrupting a lot of day-to-day life, naturalists with the Missouri Department of Conservation say you can enjoy the great outdoors while social distancing.

Sara Turner is the manager at the Nature Center in Cape Girardeau.

She said one of the benefits of the COVID-19 situation is that people have more time to slow down and take in all the details of nature.

“Take time to listen,” Turner said. “A lot of people don’t go outside and really stand quietly but there are so many cool sounds and songs of birds and other noises you might hear.”

Turner said there are many ways to discover nature while social distancing.

15 Ways to Discover Nature while Social Distancing

  1. Bird Watching: Look for birds using your backyard as habitat. Look for nests and woodpecker holes. Listen to their songs. How many different types of birds do you see?
  2. Hummingbird Feeders: Make hummingbird nectar and hang your feeder.
  3. Nature Art: Create leaf or bark rubbings. Write a poem or nature journal. Paint a picture of an animal or plant in your backyard.
  4. Blooming Flowers: Try to find flowers of different colors blooming in your area. Learn about the parts of a plant or look for pollinators.
  5. Sounds: Listen for insects, frogs, birds, or other animals. Cup your hands behind your ears to make “deer ears” and amplify the sounds. Try this during the day and at night.
  6. Fishing: Cast a line if there is a pond, lake, or creek nearby.
  7. Mushrooms: Go on a mushroom hunt to see how many different types you can find.
  8. Camping: Set up a tent or just sleep under the stars.
  9. Frog Hike: On a warm sunny day, visit a pond and walk around the edge to count how many frogs you see jumping into the water.
  10. Tree I.D.: Look closely at leaves, bark, buds, and fruit to identify trees in your area. Use a free app or an identification guide to help you.
  11. Insect Investigation: At night, look for Luna moths and other insects flying around. During the day, you may find an anthill, a gall on a tree, or a praying mantis ootheca (egg case).
  12. Bash Trash: Walk around your neighborhood to pick up any litter you see.
  13. Build Something: Make a birdhouse or a toad abode using items you have around the house.
  14. Be a Naturalist: Look for tracks, scat, or other animal sign to determine what lives in your area.
  15. Citizen Science: Use an app like iNaturalist, eBird, or LeafSnap to report what you see for science

Turner also suggests going on a scavenger hunt to discover nature.

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