Bird-A-Thon 2016 - Have you sent your tax deductible pledge yet? 

We saw a record breaking 218 species during Bird-A-Thon week! Have you made your tax-deductible pledge yet?  Click here to get a print-friendly PDF of the 2016 Bird-A-Thon pledge form. Make check(s) payable to Prairie Rapids Audubon Society and indicate Birdathon on the check. Please mail your pledge and/or contribution to: Craig Rash 105 Woodland Springs Road Denver, Iowa  50622

History in the Making: Three Merlin Fledglings Observed in Black Hawk County!

Previously it was thought that there were 2 juvenile Merlins, but PRAS Boardmember, Bill Schuerman has captured a photo with all THREE juvenile Merlins perched on a neighborhood roof (see photo below).  Bill's photography is documenting this wonderful occasion of Merlins nesting and fledging young. Enjoy the photos and check out other great photos in our PRAS Flickr photofeed.

Juvenile Merlins learning how to be successful hunters.  Photo by Bill Schuerman. Check out other photos on our Flickr feed.

3 juvenile Merlins, Waterloo, Iowa.  Photo by Bill Schuerman.
Anatomy of a Falcon--Nostrils designed for steep dives.  Photo by Bill Schuerman

One of two Juvenile Merlin fledglings in Waterloo, Iowa. Photo courtesy of Bill Schuerman

Adult female Merlin in Waterloo, Iowa. Photo courtesy of Bill Schuerman

One of the adult Merlins perched near the nest in Black Hawk County; photo by Tom Schilke.
PRAS President Tom Schilke has confirmed that Merlins are nesting in Waterloo, Iowa this summer. PRAS member Linda Johnson first reported this nest, which is located in a large white pine tree. The exact location of the nest was emailed to the PRAS member email list. If you want to know the location, but you are not on our mail list, please email If you do visit the nest site, please be respectful of the neighborhood home owners and also take care to not disturb the birds.

There have been two juvenile Merlins observed at this nesting site. The adults can be seen perched at the top of tall conifers or on locust trees near the nest site. This is the second known nest in Eastern Iowa this year, with the other one being in Iowa City. These small falcons have not nested in Iowa since 1908 but Black Hawk and Johnson counties now have confirmed nesting pairs of Merlins this year. This is very exciting news.

Merlins are small, fierce falcons that use surprise attacks to bring down small songbirds and shorebirds. They are powerful fliers, but you can tell them from larger falcons by their rapid wingbeats and overall dark tones. Medieval falconers called them “lady hawks,” and noblewomen used them to hunt Sky Larks. Merlin populations have largely recovered from twentieth-century declines, thanks to a ban on the pesticide DDT and their ability to adapt to life around towns and cities. -- Information provided on the website All About Birds.

Birding @ Okiboji-Spirit Lake with Iowa Ornithologists' Union: Annual Fall Meeting August 26-28th
Join the Iowa Ornithologists' Union (IOU) fall meeting for great birding in the Okiboji area, great company with like minded people and great learning opportunities with nationally recognized birder and author, Keven Karlson. Karlson is a prolific author and his keynote speech will center on his latest book, Birding by Impression:  A Different Approach to Knowing and Identifying Birds.  Kevin has also helped author shorebird guides and will be leading a shorebird ID session on Saturday afternoon. See the IOU's webpage for more details and to register. You do not need to be an IOU member to join us; everyone is welcome.