Join us: PRAS meeting: The Fascinating World of Loons by photographer and author Ty Smedes, March 10, 2014  7 p.m.

Owls, Cranes and Eagles -- OH MY!
Friday, March 6th - Sunday, March 8th: The small town of Houston in southeast Minnesota puts on a grand event the first weekend in March--The International Owl Festival.  The Festival includes: Live owl programs, including a Snowy and Barn Owl; programs from world experts on owls, children's story times, face painting, owl nesting box construction, pancake breakfasts, etc. highlight this educational weekend.  Visit the new International Owl Center at its first location on main street and see plans for the building of a great new facility. Watch a live owl cam at this link: Great Horned Owl Live Cam  

On your way north to Houston, you might want to drive the country roads (notably 60th - 70th and Iris) near Hayden Prairie in Howard County, Iowa and see if you can see a Snowy Owl (there are now 4 owls in this area!) and/or look for a rare Varied Thrush that has just been seen in the area. Other birds you might see are Horned Larks, Snow Buntings and a Taiga Merlin.

Thursday, March 19th - Sunday, March 22nd: Featured speaker: Author Scott Weidensaul will be the main speaker during the festival’s banquet Saturday evening. His presentation is titled “Owls: Soul of the Night.” See the “Schedule” tab on the event website for information on this talk and other speakers on Saturday.

Just visiting the Kearney-Grand Island area in Nebraska will yield numerous opportunities to witness this migration event. Visit the Rowe Sanctuary and the Crane Trust & Nature Center which both offer visits to the river in blinds so you can get up close to see and hear this spectacle. You can consult this guide for more details: Nebraska Travels: Sandhill Crane Migration. Can't travel to Nebraska? Get your crane fix by watching the Rowe Sanctuary's Crane Cam.

NESTING BALD EAGLES - Cedar Falls & Waterloo, Iowa
There is an active Bald Eagle nest in Cedar Falls located along the river looking east after you cross the bridge near the Ice House Museum. If you park in the Brown Bottle's parking lot and look in the tall trees towards the east, you will see it. 

Another Bald Eagle nest can be found in a tree north of Greyhound Park in Waterloo it is directly south of the Mauer Eye Center on Ridgeway where there is an unfinished surface street behind that office building that dead ends into a good spot to park for viewing.  The famed Decorah Eagle Cam is back online this year, watch to see if they will fledge three eaglets again.

Tell your legislators that you care about Iowa's natural resources...

Find your state legislators; call, email or send them a letter telling of your concern for the preservation of Iowa's environment.  Remind our legislators that a November 2014 polls showed 81 percent support the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. The survey of Iowa voters commissioned by Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWILL) also found that 66 percent support a revenue enhancement to fund the trust.  

Register as a supporter of funding this trust by going to the link: Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWILL); scrolling down on the homepage to find the button to register. 

Audubon's 314 Birds At Risk: Common Loon 
Art Weber/USFWS - Creative Commons

Click here to learn about the Common Loon and the precarious future this species faces due to climate change via Audubon's dynamic website. 

Common Loons are regularly seen during migration in Iowa. Learn more about loons when accomplished photographer and author, Ty Smedes presents "The Fascinating World of Loons" at the March 10, 2015 PRAS meeting.

Here are some fun facts about the Common Loon:
  • The Common Loon is born with brown eyes which turn into the striking red color during adulthood.
  • Loons can dive up to 200 feet below the surface of the water. Their bones are heavy (unlike most birds) and their eyes can focus under water as well as while on land. 
  • A group of loons has many collective nouns, including an "aslyum", "cry", "raft" or "water dance" of loons!  ---  Fun facts compiled from iBird3.