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If you enjoy Stan's post you may consider one of his amazing nature books such as Majestic Eagles, The Lives of Wolves, Coyotes, and Foxes or Backyard Birds: Welcomed Guests at our Gardens and Feeders. Young readers will delight in his award-winning children's books such  Whose Butt?, Critter Litter, and his latest book Jump, Little Wood Ducks. You can follow Stan on Facebook and Twitter, or contact him via his web page. Stan’s nationally syndicated NatureSmart Column appears in more than 25 cities spanning 5 states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania) and is circulated to more than 750,000 readers. Check out some of Stan's other posts: Indigo Bunting—A Familiar Summer Visitor The Nesting Behaviors of Sandhill Cranes Big Birds, Baby Birds, Birds Everywhere...

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Children reading books

Stan Tekiela Captures Grandeur and Beauty of Bighorn Sheep

In this week’s post, photographer, author, and naturalist Stan Tiekela reports about the bighorn sheep he encountered in the narrow mountain valley in western Wyoming. It was a picture-perfect winter day. The sky had a thin veil of clouds that would occasionally spit out large fluffy snowflakes that would drift straight down to the ground as if in slow motion. At other times the sun would peak out. The temperature was well below zero, and the best part was, there was no wind—it was calm and quiet. I had been searching up and down this narrow mountain valley in western Wyoming for several days for bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis). Suddenly, I heard a crack that sounded like a gunshot come from the steep rock cliffs above me, a sharp and clear crack that echoed off the valley walls several times before the valley fell silent again. I knew the bighorn sheep must be nearby. Weeks (if...

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Top 10 Best Children’s Books from Adventure

The best children’s books are the ones that are read time and again—and that educate while they entertain. Adventure Publications has been publishing these kinds of books for years, and I thought it would be fun to look at their top 10. Following is a list of the publisher’s most popular juvenile titles of national interest, ranked from 10 to 1: 10. Floppers & Loppers (ages 0–6): The number one title in the Adventure Board Book Series takes a look at the animal kingdom’s most amazing ears. It features short sentences and Stan Tekiela’s amazing photography. 9. Animal Tracks Activity Book (ages 5–10): The first activity book on this list of best children’s books was inspired by the successful Animal Tracks identification guides. It introduces mammals and their tracks via coloring pages and activities. 8. Yellowstone & Grand Teton Activity Book (ages 5–10): This Color and Learn title makes the top 10 with...

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Cookbook Recipes and a Minnesota Tradition

When people think of the North Star State, their first thoughts probably relate to lakes or winter, but the cookbook recipes in The Great Minnesota Hot Dish introduce another of the state’s staples: the one-dish-complete-meal system. Called a casserole in most parts of the country, the hot dish is simple, practical, and delicious. The first edition of this popular book, written by Theresa Millang, dates back to 1999. For 18 years, it brought a variety of hot dishes—from traditional to Cajun, Creole, Tex-Mex, Southern, and Chinese—to dinner tables everywhere. Now, by popular demand, the title has been revised and updated into a second edition. Local cook Karen Corbett, who has spent her life preparing meals for children and grandchildren, as well as students at a school and young campers at a camp, puts her own spin on the Minnesota cookbook recipes, creating a perfect blend of old favorites and new flavors...

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Children reading books

Stan Tekiela Studies Red-headed Woodpeckers

In today’s post, Stan Tekiela shares with us his study of a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers. Recently, I had a wonderful opportunity to study and photograph a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers nesting in an old tree and feeding their young. All of this happened because a reader of this column gave me a shout to share the exciting news of this cool woodpecker. The Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythocephalus) was once a very common woodpecker. In the mid 1800s, John James Audubon stated that the Red-headed Woodpecker was the most common woodpecker in North America. In fact, he called them semi-domesticated because they weren’t afraid of people. He stated that they were camp robbers and also a pest. According to the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count data between the 1950s and 2010, the population of Red-headed Woodpeckers has dropped dramatically. Over 80 percent of the population has died out in just over 50 years. And...

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Ghost Stories Are Fun Books for Kids

When we think of Halloween books for our children to enjoy, real ghost stories might not spring to mind. These Ghostly Tales are intended for adults, right? While, yes, spooky collections are typically written for grown-ups, they can also be appropriate for young readers—at least for those with an interest in things that go bump in the night. If your children are fascinated with the frightful, AdventureKEEN’s horror offerings might be excellent October titles to get them reading. Still not sure? Continue on to learn more about these popular books. The Stories are Reportedly True The Ghostly Tales series (and AdventureKEEN’s other spooky titles) are grounded in reality. They are dramatic retellings, based on interviews and research. The Halloween books don’t resort to supernatural violence or murder to freak out the audience. They don’t have to. The horror lies in the fact that these are supposed to be true stories. The events...

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Children reading books

Trumpeter Swans Are Back in the Wild

In today’s post, Stan Tekiela celebrates the return of Trumpeter Swans, who at one time were nearly wiped out in the lower 48 states. My-oh-my, how times have changed. Over the last 35-plus years, I have witnessed a few amazing changes in nature. It usually takes hundreds (if not thousands) of years to effect change. But when you throw in human activity, everything seems to be accelerated. Recently, I have been spending a lot of time photographing a Trumpeter Swan nest with cygnets. When I first started studying, photographing, and writing about nature, there were no Trumpeter Swans around. They were locally extinct, a term called extirpated. We humans did a great job at eliminating so many species, including the Trumpeter Swans. The swans were wiped out of nearly all regions in the lower 48 states. From the time of settlement until very recently, Trumpeter Swans were hunted for their meat and feathers. They are...

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Food Chain Book Entertains and Educates

The new food chain book by Ryan Jacobson and Stan Tekiela, What Eats That?, has arrived, and it’s as fun to read as it is informative. Ryan provides interactive text that literally keeps readers guessing with every turn of the page, while Stan supplies amazing photography that brings one of Adventure Publications’ best picture books to life. The concept captivates readers from the start. Children are shown eating their favorite foods, and the text explains what a food chain is, while suggesting that we are all part of a food chain every time we eat. From there, the food chain book takes off. A species is introduced on every page, with fascinating information given about how its members eat or hunt. Then the question is asked: What Eats That? Of course, there are any number of possible answers to what eats a given critter, so guessing could be tricky. But there’s a reason...

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Children reading books

Picking a Favorite Bird is Hard to Do

I’m often asked which bird is my favorite. This is much like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. I often answer this question by stating that whatever bird I am studying or photographing at the time is my favorite. The truth is, I’ve yet to meet a bird or animal that I didn’t find fascinating and super cool. However, if push comes to shove, I’ll admit that I have a great fondness for hummingbirds. They are an amazing group of birds that are unlike any others. There are more than 320 species of hummingbirds. This is the second largest family of birds in the world. It is huge. What is even more interesting is that hummingbirds are only found in the New World (the Americas). They don’t have hummingbirds in Europe, Africa, Asia, or any other place on the planet. Hummingbirds are one of the most easily recognized birds. They...

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Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas Hot Dish

The Minnesota Hot Dish is something most other folks would call a “casserole;” either way, the entire family will enjoy this Chicken Enchiladas Hot Dish recipe. Ingredients 1 (8-ounce) jar Cheez Whiz, divided 1/3 cup sour cream 1/4 cup chopped green onion 1 teaspoon chili powder 2 cups shredded cooked chicken 6 flour tortillas Salsa Preheat oven to 350˚F. Mix together 1/3 cup Cheez Whiz, sour cream, onion, and chili powder in a large bowl. Stir in chicken. Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture onto each flour tortilla. Roll up. Place, seam sides down, in a lightly greased 11x13-inch baking dish. Top enchiladas with 1/2 cup salsa. Bake 25–30 minutes. Microwave remaining Cheese Whiz until hot, and pour over enchiladas. Serve with additional salsa. Serves 6. Make Your Chicken Enchiladas Modern Substitute 8 ounces freshly grated Chedda cheese for Cheez Whiz. In Minnesota, there’s the “company” hot dish, which has a more elegant presentation and may include seafood but not tuna. The “baby shower” hot dish may indeed contain tuna. Then there’s the hot dish...

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