Things are going to get a little fishy in Milwaukee! Show us your sturgeon face for a chance to be the first ever ‘Sturgeon General’ at this year’s Sturgeon Fest on September 26th in downtown Milwaukee. The winner will be invited to release a ceremonial sturgeon at the opening ceremonies with other event dignitaries AND receive a free membership to Riveredge Nature Center for the chance to adventure, explore, and learn all-year round on 400 acres of restored wild Wisconsin.

What do you have to do to receive such fame and recognition? Just take a selfie, of course! Riveredge wants to see your best sturgeon selfie.  The process is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  • Take a sturgeon selfie: find a sturgeon to pose with, show us your sturgeon face, or come up with something entirely your own!
  • Upload it to Instagram.
  • Tag @riveredgenaturecenter and add #ShowMeYourSturgeonFace.

Then all you need to do is kick back, follow @riveredgenaturecenter on Instagram, and wait for the winner to be announced there on September 22nd.  We’ll be picking the most creative selfie, so make it good!

(Note: if your account is private and you don’t follow us, we aren’t able to see your picture and unfortunately can’t count your entry!)

Riveredge will also be traveling around the community with props and even some live sturgeon to help kick your selfie-taking game to the next level.  Join us at:

  • Discovery World Fish and a Flick 8/26 5pm
  • Betty Brinn Children’s Museum 9/11
  • Port Explorium  9/12
  • Colectivo Flushing Station TBD

And of course, we’ll see you at Sturgeon Fest on September 26th from 11 AM to 3 PM at Lakeshore State Park.  Help us release actual sturgeon into Lake Michigan in our effort to reintroduce sturgeon to the Milwaukee River, enjoy a plethora of fun activities for the whole family, and see a free presentation from Dr. Scott of PBS Kids’s Dinosaur Train! Get all the details here!

A Special Broadcast


with John Gurda

premieres Wednesday, April 22, at 8 pm on Milwaukee Public TV/Channel 10 

Riveredge was fortuante to have John film parts of this documentary during our 2013 & 2014 Sturgeon release event – Sturgeon Fest.  We encourage all to learn more about Milwaukee and the historic significance of water in our home region.

Water was the resource that put Milwaukee on the map.  It ensured that there would be a harbor here — the best on the western shore of Lake Michigan — and that settlers would come here to earn a living.  The city’s rivers were harnessed to grind flour and saw lumber, to tan leather, cool machinery, and brew the residents’ favorite beverage.

Water has been an important resource for play, too.  Our waterways have hosted canoe clubs, beer gardens, swimming schools, ice races, and amusement parks.  In 1929, Lincoln Memorial Drive debuted as one of the most spectacular stretches of shoreline on the Great Lakes.

MILWAUKEE: A CITY BUILT ON WATER, written and hosted by historian John Gurda, tells the full story of our relationship with local waterways in a fast-paced one-hour documentary, richly illustrated with rare film and photos.  

I thought you would have a special interest in the program, and invite you to join us for its premiere broadcast this coming Wednesday, April 22, from 8-9 pm, only on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10.  Here’s a preview: http://support.mptv.org/site/PageNavigator/Celebrate_Earth_Day_Milwaukee_A_City_Built_on_Water.html.

Gurda takes the story up to the present day, documenting how we have developed the areas along our lake and rivers, the history of abuses of our waterways, and today’s efforts to revive and preserve this most important resource.  He recently wrote about the production in his column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/milwaukees-watery-past-b99473488z1-298642701.html.

MILWAUKEE: A CITY BUILT ON WATER reunites the production team of Gurda and producer Claudia Looze, who were primarily responsible for the multi-Emmy Award-winning MPTV mini-series THE MAKING OF MILWAUKEE.

Produced in cooperation with WisconsinEye, MILWAUKEE: A CITY BUILT ON WATER  has been funded by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Lynde B. Uihlein, the Brookby Foundation, the Fund for Lake Michigan, Badger Meter Foundation, and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

If you are unable to watch the premiere broadcast, you can catch these repeat airings: Thursday, April 23, at 9 pm on Channel 36; Friday, April 24, at 3 am on Channel 10; and Monday, April 27, at 4 am on Channel 36.  You will also be able to view the entire program after its initial broadcast at mptv.org.


Bug o’the Week – Grass Looper

Howdy, BugFans,


The BugLady wishes that the Moth Namers (usually a pretty creative lot) had come up with a nicer name than “Forage looper” or the slightly better “Grass looper” for this pretty moth that appeared on her porch one night at the start of August.  Maybe with the word “tawny” or “caramel” in it (there’s variation within the species, of course; the males are generally grayer and the females, with their 1 ½” wingspreads, larger (http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=8739).


For the record, the BugLady is pretty sure that this is a Forage looper, (Caenurgina erechtea) instead of the very similar Clover Looper (C. crassiuscula).  Both occur across North America and southern Canada (not so much in the Great Plains), right up to the southern edge of the boreal forest, but the Clover looper is said to replace the larger and more common Grass looper in more northerly parts of Canada.  If the moths are challenging to differentiate, their caterpillars can be worse http://bugguide.net/node/view/463145/bgimage.  The GL likes moist, well-vegetated, open fields, edges, and disturbed vegetation.


There are probably two broods in Wisconsin – a small, spring flight from pupae that were caterpillars the previous summer and that survived the challenges of winter (and spring), and a larger mid-summer flight that produces those caterpillars that overwinter.  GL moths may be seen by day or night through September.  Larvae tend to be more strongly nocturnal than their parents, and they are fairly specialized feeders, enjoying herbaceous (not woody) members of the pea/legume family, especially the clovers.  Grasses and ragweed have also been listed as food plants.


The GL has been a subject in a number of research projects that have searched for a correlation between a moth’s ability to hear and its anti-predator behavior.  Not surprisingly, it seems that although auditory acuity varies, moths that have “ears” (and GLs do) are likely to fly more frequently at night and to spend more time in flight than “earless” moths are.  Since finding a mate may require taking to the air, flight is an important exercise.  Moths with poorer hearing behave more like earless moths, hunkering down in the vegetation.


Researchers te Hofstede, et al, speculate that that this auditory advantage in the high-stakes game of finding a mate might result in the selection for/development of enhanced sensory equipment, but that moths apparently have maxed out their hearing development, so their energy goes into behavioral responses.  Other scientists have noted that moths that are exposed to ultrasound cut their flying time dramatically.  It has also been suggested that moths respond differently to the sound of a bat hunting far away vs a bat close-up (“Far-bat” triggers a leisurely retreat, while “Near-bat” inspires erratic flight or a quick landing).


One branch of the pest-control field, Electronic Pest Control, involves broadcasting short wavelength, high frequency sound waves both as a repellant and to interrupt breeding activity (so far, there have been inconsistent results over both the range of species and the range of devices.  Back to the drawing board).  The Pros: no chemicals leaching into the landscape.  The Cons: according to some sources, electronic pest control devices are not subject to the same kinds of federal scrutiny as chemical pesticides are.  The BugLady suspects that the use of ultrasound would result in significant collateral damage to “harmless,” eared insects and maybe to bats, which give us a pretty good assist in insect control.


GLs belong to the family Erebidae, a large family that was carved out of the Owlet family Noctuidae and that includes the underwing, tiger, tussock, lichen, snout, and zale moths, and more.  Erebids come in all sizes from micromoths to the Black Witch, with her five-inch wingspread, and they range in color from the well-camouflaged to the very-showy.  According to bugguide.net, “Erebidae” comes from the Greek “erebus,” which means “from the darkness.”


The BugLady’s favorite GL research moment came from this caption at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.  “This appears to be a Forage Looper moth (Caenurgina erechtea), another one of our common enough neighbors that we would never see if we were not trying to find them or crawling through the grass. Sometimes rolling around on the ground can be very educational.




The BugLady

A camping trip without the work!

Family Camping Overnights @ Riveredge!

At Riveredge, we do our best to take the work and barriers out of going outside with your family. Our family overnights are no different – bring a tent and leave the rest to us!

We’ve polled staff members who have led family camping overnights about some of their favorite moments and memories.  Here’s a couple to give you a taste of the fun and good times our families have had…

Meet new friends!

“Last summer two separate families came to the overnight and they didn’t know each other. But as the families started to talk, it turned out they have so much in common. All their children are adopted. The families live very close to each other and their kids will go to the same school soon. The parents both had similar interests in biking and hiking and have been sight-seeing in similar places almost around the same times. I remember sitting at the table while the parents talked just in awe of how these two families connected and yet they had never met until RNC campout. I’d like to know if they still get together outside of RNC.”

Explore the night!

“Calling owls. I taught the families to make the barred owl call. We called together as a group and about 30 minutes later we had an owl calling back to us. We were all in our tents later and as we drifted to sleep we could hear two owls calling back and forth nearby. The families talked about it over breakfast in the morning.”

It’s easy and great for beginning campers or experienced folks who just want to take the easy road!

“A lot of parents said the family campout was their first time camping besides their backyard. The family overnight was a nice transition before camping at a campground. Riveredgehas the convenience of staff for questions, toilets, and indoor spaces incase of bad weather, and a breakfast in the morning.”

Join us on one of our upcoming Family Camping Overnights @ Riveredge!

Family Adventures: Family Overnight @ Riveredge

All Ages

Saturday, August 2, 5 pm – Sunday, August 3, 9 am  Theme: Creatures of the Night; led by Jessica Jens, Executive Director

Saturday, August 30, 5 pm – Sunday, August 31, 9 am  Theme: Exploring the Night Sky; led by Moriah Butler, Environmental Educator

Fee (per family): Member $45   Non-member $60

Join a Riveredge Naturalist for a unique opportunity to experience Riveredge after hours. Spend the evening exploring the trails, looking for night creatures, catching fireflies or relaxing at the campfire. Pitch your tent on the Riveredge lawn and slumber to the sound of the night choir. Bring a picnic supper, and in the morning you’ll enjoy pancakes with Riveredge maple syrup. Space is limited so register early. Each family is limited to one tent. Please note: At Creatures of the Night we’ll camp at Woodland Harvest; Exploring the Night Sky we’ll camp near the main building.

To register, visit our Summer Camp page and click on the “Register Now” button.  Hope to see you soon!

How the Boundary Waters Can Change Your Life

Riveredge hosts adventure trips every summer.  This year, we still have some spots open for our Boundary Waters Canoe trip.   Join us (but make sure to register by June 23rd)!  Not only will you have a great time, meet new friends, learn more about yourself and all you are capable of, it may also just inspire your future choices.  Here’s how it did just that for one young person, Elizabeth Garret.


“The Riveredge Nature Journeys Questers program is a fantastic way to discover the unknown world of nature and wildlife. The trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) had an unexpected impact on my life. The first year I attended a Questers trip, I had minimal experience with the outdoors. It was my first long camping trip, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. While there, I discovered a whole new side of myself that I had no idea existed – a passion for the environment. I found a new love and appreciation for the serenity and peacefulness of nature. On one of the last days I remember thinking to myself how amazing it would be to work at on outfitter in the BWCA for a summer or two. Little did I realize that exact opportunity opened itself up to me. I recently accepted a job working at an outfitter for this summer.

I also didn’t realize that this single trip would inspire me to look at colleges with an environmental emphasis. I now attend Northland College, which is an environmental liberal arts college, studying Environmental Geosciences. I am also leading a camping trip for new students next fall and becoming certified as a Wilderness First Responder. Riveredge and all of its programs can open many doors. For me, it changed the whole direction of my life. It has taught me life lessons that cannot be found in a classroom or in a textbook. I would recommend to anyone to take advantage of the wonderful leaders and opportunities the Questers offer. The experience will change your life.”

Stan Temple to Talk at Bird Club Meeting

All are welcome to the Noel J. Cutright Bird Club meeting this Tuesday, June 3rd at 7:00 pm for a special presentation by Stan Temple, Senior Fellow and Science Adviser with the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

His talk marks the centennial of the extinction of the passenger pigeon in 1914. Temple uses the case of the passenger pigeon to call attention to the world’s ongoing extinction crisis and our relationship with other species.

In 1914, the last surviving Passenger Pigeon died in a Cincinnati Zoo, ending a calamitous half-century in which the pigeon declined from billions to one and then to none as a result of uncontrolled market hunting and the resulting disruption of nesting colonies. The loss of one of the world’s most abundant birds stands as the iconic extinction event in our country’s history.

In 1947, the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology erected the Passenger Pigeon Monument at Wyalusing State Park, and for the occasion Aldo Leopold penned one of the most poignant essays ever written about extinction, “On a Monument to the Pigeon,” which later appeared in his classic book A Sand County Almanac. The society rededicated the monument during its 75th annual convention on May 17, 2014.

For more than 30 years, Temple was the Beers-Bascom Professor in Conservation in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at University of Wisconsin-Madison, a position originally held by Aldo Leopold himself. After earning three degrees from Cornell University, Temple worked with endangered species on islands in the Indian Ocean and then returned to Cornell to lead the peregrine falcon reintroduction program.