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Seeing Humanity in All in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

28 Nov
A silver back gorilla makes his way in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some anthropologists and behavioral scientists talk about we humans are close in nature to the primate, maybe even descending from the creatures millions of years ago. Of course folk will debate that scenario until the end of time. But it is fascinating that there are quite similar traits between humans and other creatures. Even if we don’t admit it. And finding that observation in Siouxland just reinforces my notion that all living creatures and interconnected at some point. For good or bad.

On a recent visit to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE I saw what I believes to be an all too common trait of humans, Children especially, but I have seen a few humans behave this way as well. And it reminded me of the cereal commercial, and the siblings exclaiming, “Mikey likes it!” And with Thanksgiving recently occurring I am sure there were a few sceptical humans wondering if they wanted to try something new at the dinner table.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A silver back gorilla checks out a possible snack left in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A silver back gorilla eyes a possible snack in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
When in doubt, a silver back gorilla checks out a possible snack in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Humans honestly come by their scepticism to food if a “distant” cousin also seems suspicious at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sliver back gorilla decides this snack may not be so bad afterall at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter’s Return to Siouxland, Sioux City

24 Nov

Sometimes one hopes for the best in what seems to be a wacky year. And even in Siouxland one hopes for a longer, quiet fall before winter returns and with it colder temperatures, snow to shovel and barren landscapes mostly devoid of color.

A woodpecker enjoys a meal even as a new winter snow falls, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter has returned to Siouxland and this time future forecasts for the month of November are not as rosy with temps staying fairly normal or below. The brief “Indian summer” that visited recently has left for warmer climes, leaving behind a white landscape.

A sparrow seeks shelter in a bush from falling snow, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like winter, but mostly when it produces some sunshine and temperatures that hover in the 20’s and 30’s, not the below freezing temps and 25-30 mph wind gusts that create a windchill of -20 or more. Maybe that makes me a fair winter weather kind of person, with the hope of getting out still and taking country drives, only being careful not to spend quality time in ditch on some backroad enjoying winter’s beauty.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A woodpecker enjoys a meal during a winter snow, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Snow in Siouxland, Sioux City

4 Nov
A squirrel pauses while eating at a backyard feeder in a home in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday Oct. 25, 2020 as local weather prognosticators said could expect anywhere from 2 inches up to 7 inches depending on location. Early, even by Iowa standards. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter has arrived early in Siouxland. Even though officially it’s a couple months away. The 4-5 inches of snow that fell clearly refutes anyone’s attempt that it’s not here.

Farmers in Iowa and neighboring states are still harvesting their crops. Halloween for some will be cold in addition to the already stressful thought of safely Trick or Treating during a pandemic. The cold and snow is just a reminder or foreshadowing of what’s to come and if it will make this winter’s season feel longer than normal.

I’m always hopeful for maybe a few more fall days, with temperatures in the 50’s and overnight lows no colder than the 30’s.

Hope springs eternal. But at this point, spring seems a far, far distant point on the horizon.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two house sparrows eat a meal at a backyard feeder in a home in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday Oct. 25, 2020 as local weather prognosticators said people could expect anywhere from 2 inches up to 7 inches depending on location. Early, even by Iowa standards. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Patience in Siouxland, Rural Monona County

25 Oct
A turkey vulture waits for a passer-by to leave to resume a meal in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes patience is key in obtaining what one wants. Recently while driving some backroads in rural Monona County in Siouxland I interrupted a mealtime by some turkey vultures. Whether it was fresh road kill or not, the creatures patiently waited for me to leave so mealtime could continue and the good eats would not be wasted.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Turkey vultures wait for a passer-by to leave to resume a meal in rural Monona County, Iowa, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Sunny Day in Siouxland, DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Valley

23 Oct

Everyone enjoys a sunny day in Siouxland, critters included. With fall officially here the colder weather will arrive soon enough.

Birds resting on pilings and enjoying some sunshine at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While visiting the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley there wasn’t as many migrating birds as one might think passing through the area yet. With warmer temperatures still it appears migration hasn’t really begun in earnest, at least for a lot of creatures.

Pelicans and ducks using a sand bar for some rest and relaxation on a sunny day at the De Soto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Generally there can be thousands of ducks and geese passing through this area as a stop or rest area much like one sees along the interstate. Cooler temps are predicted in the following weeks so another trip might be warranted to see what birds are passing through on their journey to a winter habitat while some of us local critters stay put and dream of spring sometime in February after the charm of “winter” has worn off.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying some sunshine at the De Soto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Monday Oct. 12, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Refuge in Siouxland, Scatter Joy Acres, Omaha, NE

17 Oct
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This fall I came across a small petting zoo located in a quiet neighborhood outside Siouxland in Omaha, NE. Scatter Joy Acres is a place where people can go and on a much smaller scale than the other local zoo in Omaha see animals and sometimes interact with them.

There are a variety of animals and it seems a very family friendly venue as families roamed the grounds waiting for an event to start just checking out the various animals on the grounds.

Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring and finding new places to check out is always fun and the joy of traveling even if that means driving an hour away. Hidden gems to a visitor not familiar with the area. Sometimes these are overlooked because one is a visitor, but then that just means more exploring closer to home and a chance to spend more time on the ground looking than driving or flying.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Place with a View in Siouxland, Le Mars

21 Sep

Turkey vultures roost on a grain elevator in Le Mars, Iowa, Tuesday August 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I guess it’s not only human nature to seek out a high spot to take in the surrounding view of an area in Siouxland as a recent trip to Le Mars allowed me to watch a gathering of turkey vultures roosting on a grain elevator next to the community’s fairgrounds. Of course for birds they always look for that high, vantage point as it also keeps them safe from predators. Although some human in the area must not have been pleases in that I heard loud noises that sent these creatures soaring up to be safer and also take a look at whatever was causing a ruckus.

Turkey vultures roost on a grain elevator in Le Mars, Iowa, Tuesday August 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was one of the few times I had seen so many vultures hanging out together. A little conflab of sorts I suppose maybe sharing places of interest to find a meal the next day, as evening was coming on and these birds would be settling in some place for the night. A routine many of us hope to once again pursue as life becomes a bit safer than the current virus episode makes it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Turkey vultures take flight after hearing a noise while roosting on a grain elevator in Le Mars, Iowa, Tuesday August 11, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeking Shelter in Siouxland, Snyder’s Bend Park, Salix

19 Sep

A woodchuck looks around hearing construction noise at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©) (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When one senses danger or even that something is amiss, it’s only natural to seek shelter. Even creatures in Siouxland are wary of man’s attempt to intervene in nature. While on a recent outing at Snyder’s Bend Park a parks department crew showed up to do some work, and this poor little woodchuck seemed a little besides himself trying to figure out if he was in danger and why were on these people hanging out in his neighborhood this particular day.

A woodchuck takes off after hearing construction noise at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©) (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A woodchuck runs for cover after hearing construction noise at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©) (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A woodchuck runs for cover after hearing construction noise at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©) (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In most cases it is good to heed one’s instinct and behave cautiously rather than proceed as if nothing unusual is occurring. I believe that is the premise of many a teen horror movie that has been used numerous times all leading to the same conclusion. This little guy scampered away as fast as it could and appeared safe as far as I could tell. Until the next time it ventures probably hoping not to hear another backhoe for a while as it looks for a morning snack.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

A woodchuck heads off to a safer place after hearing construction noise at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©) (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Checking on Visitors at the Zoo near Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

13 Sep

A peacock walks by visitors at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Humans are not the only curious “animals” on this planet. Zoo animals exhibit a curiosity as well when visitors drop by, and some even like to show off a bit and relax while checking on visitors to their domain. Maybe even smile at someone they see.

A meerkat takes a break from preening at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A giraffe smiles at a visitor at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But like people animals can be a bit aloof and not pay any mind to those who are checking them on on a warm day. People watching in reverse or just not interested. Although under different circumstances, maybe.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A curious peacock takes a closer look at a visitor at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After a meal, a nap is always inviting at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A meerkat and smaller antelope watch visitors watching them at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature’s Calligraphers in Siouxland, Snyder’s Bend, Salix

7 Sep

Pelicans fly in formation at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I often times am awed by nature’s shows that take place in Siouxland and I can witness such feats of aerobatics and and “sky writing” done by birds.

This summer while visiting with a friend at Snyder’s Bend park we saw a large flock of pelicans performing synchronized flying near the park and it struck me as a form of calligraphy being written in the sky by these airborne creatures.

Pelicans fly in formation at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pelicans fly in formation at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

What on the ground look like large unbalanced creatures created imagery in the sky that was fun to watch. I had never witnessed pelicans behaving in this manner before, mostly just images of these birds on the ground feeding. And seeing them fly in formation was truly amazing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Pelicans fly in formation at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pelicans fly in formation at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

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