Nature In The City: Autumn Is Here
It's starting to actually feel like fall. Daylight is slipping away sooner, mornings are brisk and nights are chilly. As the temperature starts to cool, leaves start to slowly change to those beautiful warm colors of yellow, orange and red and will soon fall to the ground. Critters scamper about preparing for who knows what kind of winter. From bird migrations, strange insects, frog populations and more, autumn is certainly making her place in Kansas City.
As the seasons are changing, animals are either seeking warmer territory, or preparing for the winter. Some animals we won't see again until Spring, while some you would be surprised to know are part of the Kansas City animal landscape.
Our experts and local biologists, Larry Rizzo and Joe Werner, say that this time of year coyotes are much more active. They are running in packs now, and can be a danger to small pets, including dogs under 30 pounds. Rizzo and Werner both recommend not letting small dogs out of the house at night, or alone during the day. There is a natural competition between dogs and coyotes, and they will often try to "out-howl" each other. Coyotes can easily draw a dog out of the safety of its home and gang up on it.
Another predator in the area is the bobcat. You may be surprised to know that bobcats exist in this area, but our biologists say that due to high deer populations, bobcats are attracted to this Midwestern area. Our deer populations here in the Kansas City metro are high, and without hunting or bobcats these populations could get out of control.
But not every population is thriving in Kansas City. Rizzo, a natural history biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation says Monarch butterfly populations have taken a hit this year. Normally, we see their beautiful, bold wings fluttering about in mid to late September. But how can we help keep the declining number of Monarch butterflies thriving in Kansas City? Rizzo suggested planting a butterfly garden full of plants that butterflies like to eat, such as purple milkweed. The butterflies, even in an urban setting, will find those types of plant and come to feed wherever they are.
Another hurting population that is being helped in Kansas City is that of the Peregrine falcon population. Falcons, until recently, were an endangered species. The government created programs to get these falcons used to living in an urban environment, such as building structures or dwellings on top of tall buildings. One of these structures built to attract the falcons is on top of the press box at Arrowhead Stadium. Conservationists hope the falcons will see and stop by the structure on their way migrating south and then come back to live there in the springtime.
Finally, if you've already put away your hummingbird feeder, you might consider putting it back out, say Rizzo and Werner. By this point in the year, the Ruby-throated hummingbirds are gone, but the Rufous hummingbirds could be visiting your feeder until December.
According to the calendar year fall starts September 22 and lasts through December 21. We're only a few weeks in to the fall season, but the signature signs of fall are starting to finally show and become more noticeable.There is always something beautiful to see in Kansas City, and with each coming season the city is alive with a diverse body of critters and plants. Some new, some old, but all have something in common with Kansas City residents--they've decided to call this place home.
- Larry Rizzo, natural history biologist with Missouri Dept. of Conservation
- Joe Werner, Conservation Coordinator for Kansas City Power and Light Company