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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: Missouri's Survivors

Missouri Department of Conservation
Eastern bluebird in snow.

Discover nature this week with Missouri's Survivors.

Look outside because the game of life is going on right now in your backyard. Animals are trying to beat the "Survivor" odds to outwit and outlast the hardships of winter (and to also outplay their opponents). Although some of them might escape the cold by migrating to warmer climates or hibernating in snug burrows, others must gamble at finding food and shelter. By winter's end, the populations of most animals are at their lowest.

For animals, the right tools are needed for survival. Bobcats use their soft foot pads, dappled-colored fur and keen vision and smell to sneak up on rabbits; specialized eyes, ears, feet, teeth, beaks and whiskers are survival tools for prairie animals; badgers use large claws for digging burrows and defending themselves; and coyotes depend on their keen sense of smell, hearing and sight to catch mice running through the tall grass.

But camouflage is one of the best survival tools an animal can have. Whether an animal is hunting or hiding, survival often depends on blending in and not being seen. Bluegill have light, vertical stripes that help them blend in when they hide among pond plants. And the dark coloration on the top of channel catfish helps them blend into the mud at the bottom of the pond.

More information about animals’ survival instincts in Missouri 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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