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From the pages of NEBRASKAland Magazine.

Smoky gray photos

Scott Justice of Chadron harvested this turkey of the erythristic, or red, color phase. (Submitted photo)

“Smoky gray” isn’t often a quality we photographers seek in images, but it’s a different story when it comes to turkeys. I was pleased to receive a few photos of smoky gray phase wild turkeys after requesting them in a post last week. While most of the responses I received were from northwestern Nebraska, it appears some really unique birds, ranging from all white plumage to a colorful mix, are seen on occasion throughout the state. The most eye-catching of ... Read More »

Panhandle Passages: The Great White Turkey

Wild turkeys, one of which is likely a "smoky gray" phase bird, walk through grass in the Nebraska National Forest. (Photo by Justin Haag)

As I was driving through the Nebraska National Forest southeast of Chadron on Thursday, a pleasant surprise greeted me as I rounded a bend in the road. Discovering a flock of wild turkeys is certainly no cause for amazement these days but one bird predominantly covered by white feathers stood out among the group. The big bird didn’t give me much time to get a photo before it disappeared over the horizon, but you should be able to see that ... Read More »

Bald Birds

Photo by Steve Zechmann

Northern cardinals are familiar birds found throughout most of Nebraska. But sometimes familiar species can become unfamiliar by exhibiting an odd plumage. Sometimes an explanation for such an aberration is well-known and readily available. Other times an explanation is more elusive. The entirely bald head exhibited by this northern cardinal is unusual, but not unprecedented. Birds similar to this have been observed throughout the species’ range. However, why a cardinal would lose essentially all of its head feathers at one ... Read More »

The Beneficial Beetle

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When you hear the term beneficial insect, pollinators like bees or butterflies probably come to mind. Or maybe you think of predatory insects such as the praying mantis or spiders. Either way these good bugs sure are nice to have around. There is another insect, though less glamorous than butterflies or ladybugs, but arguably just as important – the dung beetle. These industrious little workers are the waste disposal engineers of the insect world. If they weren’t around, it would ... Read More »

Portraits from the Past: 50 MPH Stagecoach

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  50 MPH Stagecoach (Held her at 50 most of the way) We drove 600 miles this way to Estes Park, making it in 16 hours in 1939 (& back). On top were 5 blanket rolls covered with heavy canvas which was tied with rope running to bumpers both “fore” and “aft.” On back was a platform that carried all of the grub, army cots, and cooking utensils. On the left running board – carried all the suitcases and any ... Read More »

Debris Hut

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Fall flowers are in full bloom in the wild places and in our gardens, the cicadas have ceased their droning in the trees while late nectaring bumble bees and butterflies are still active on fall favorites like asters, tall sedums and goldenrods. Not too far around the corner are much cooler temperatures and late fall garden clean up. After a frost there will be leaves to rake, grasses and perennials to cut back and downed limbs to pick up left ... Read More »

Final Living History Weekend at Fort Atkinson SHP

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Fort Atkinson State Historical Park’s final Living History event of the 2014 season will be held October 4 and 5. Visitors will witness this 1820’s Military Post come alive as volunteer interpreters portray the daily activities of soldiers and civilians as they prepare for the upcoming winter. In addition to normal activities portrayed, such as military demonstrations, blacksmithing, tinsmithing, coopering, carpentry and textile trades, Omaha’s Old Dominion Dance group will present three period-style dances on Saturday, and on Sunday, Matt ... Read More »

Finally Fall Fishing

Jeff Kurrus/NEBRASKAland Magazine

I’m hearing from a few reservoirs around the state that the fall pattern is starting to show itself. Slabs and blade baits are producing some fish once in a while, and it’ll only improve. Big Mac remains slow from what I’ve heard from numerous friends. A blade bait did produce a 63 pound flathead for my friends at Sherman Reservoir last week, though. What a blast that had to be! Elwood is still a bit behind, it seems. We looked ... Read More »

Raccoon Behaviors

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Whether it’s running down a tree head first or standing on hind legs to inspect an attractive aroma, raccoon behaviors can be fascinating to observe. Though easily identified by their distinctive black mask and ringed tail, witnessing a raccoon in the wild can pose a challenge due to their nocturnal nature. In the city, however, the odds of catching a glimpse of these mammals are considerably greater. With a population density and life expectancy higher than that of their country ... Read More »

Landscape Notes: Fall Projects

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By: Jon Morgenson, Assistant Horticulturist  Now through the end of October is the best time for a few turf improvement projects. Weed Control If dandelions and other broadleaf weeds like white clover or creeping Charlie are invading your cool season turf areas, now is the best time of year to control them. These weeds are more noticeable when they are flowering earlier in the season but controlling them then versus now is less effective. Perennial weeds like dandelions are moving ... Read More »