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Every week there are new marvels to look for in the outdoors, and Discover Nature highlights these attractions. The Missouri Department of Conservation’s Josh Hartwig brings us the stories of river otters, luna moths, red buds, and other actors as they take center stage in nature’s theater.You can hear Discover Nature, Mondays at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Discover Nature: Red, White, and Blue in Missouri

Clockwise from top right: cardinal flowers, bald eagle, American white pelicans, bluebirds, Blue Springs Creek Conservation Area, and wild turkeys

Discover Nature this week with red, white, and blue in Missouri. This week, in honor of Independence Day, we celebrate red, white, and blue in nature.

Cardinal flowers bloom a fiery red in late summer, and attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and humans. These native plants are often found near water. Some crayfish even sport bright red hues.

American white pelicans are a massive bird with a snowy white body. These ancient looking flyers will arrive in wetlands in August. Then there’s the bald eagle, our patriotic symbol. Adults sport the familiar, white-feathered head. Here in Missouri, bald eagles are usually observed statewide near lakes, rivers, and marshes, particularly during the winter. As a cherished U.S. national symbol, the bald eagle’s cultural value is hard to estimate. In some Native American cultures, bald eagles are held sacred, and their feathers are important symbols.

Blue is a rarer color in nature, not easily produced. Missouri's state bird, the bluebird, is one of our showiest blues. The deep waters of many springs provide a blue hue along with natural cooling on hot summer days. If you've never been to a natural spring, summer is a great time to visit. Blue catfish and bluegill are popular summer fish.

And showing off red, white, and blue in its head and neck is the wild turkey. Fitting colors for an animal that Benjamin Franklin had proposed to be our national symbol, since he thought the turkey more dignified than the scavenging eagle.

You can celebrate this year’s 4th of July by seeing how many things in nature you can spot with patriotic coloring!

More information about discovering red, white, and blue in nature can be found online at MissouriConservation.org.

Josh Hartwig is the host of Discover Nature and a media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation.
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