Want to go birding?! Find details on our Field Trips page; Wednesday morning birding and other opportunities await, so please join us!

Learn more about Heritage Valley, Allamakee County

INHF blufflands director Brian Fankhauser points out plant species to a volunteer. (Photo by Jessica Rilling)
Heritage Valley which is a 1,237 acre of various habitats including hill prairies, savannas, riparian bottom lands and old-growth woodlands. Heritage Valley “makes up one of the largest and most diverse—and best preserved—natural areas ever acquired by a private organization for preservation in Iowa. Read more about Heritage Valley at the INHF blog.

Take a look at the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) website to learn more about the important conservation and preservation work INHF does in our state.  A link to this website has been added to the Links page on this website, so you may easily refer to it in the future. For over three decades, INHF has helped to protect over 150,000 acres of Iowa prairies, woodlands, lakes and rivers and has helped establish recreational trails for all to enjoy. The Cedar Valley Nature Trail that many of us enjoy here in Black Hawk County is an example of their work. 
PRAS members and Bill Witt at Heritage Valley, Allamakee County - Field Trip October 6, 2016

Nelson's Sparrow  Photo by Tom Schilke
Fall sparrows are back!

PRAS President Tom Schilke, found this handsome Nelson's Sparrow in the SE Corner of Prairie Lakes in Cedar Falls. This sparrow is also known as Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow and it has a call that is likened to water hitting a hot skillet according to the Audubon website. These are secretive birds that can be found along the edges of freshwater marshes and in wet meadows or near other bodies of water during migration.

Prairie Lakes also recently had a LeConte's Sparrow that Tom found near the SE corner of the area. See these pictures and more from our PRAS members on our Photos page.

Fall is the time that a multitude of sparrow species migrate through Iowa. You will also find plenty of White-throated Sparrows (recognized by with their "Oh Canada" song), along with smaller numbers of White-crowned Sparrows, Lincoln's Sparrows, and Le Conte's Sparrow.  
Le Conte's Sparrow  Photo by Tom Schilke

To a lot of us, sparrows are the confusing "little brown birds", but there are definite field marks that distinguish them from each other. Use the links provided above to see if you can gain more confidence in identifying these birds.  As always, habitat can provide a large hint as to what kind of sparrow you might be seeing. The Le Conte's Sparrow, like the Nelson's like to be near water, whether it is a wet meadow or marshy area. Both of these species can be seen in some of PRAS's birding hot spots like, Prairie Lakes in Cedar Falls, Sweet Marsh in Bremer County and Pintail Wetlands in Hardin Counties. Keep your eye out for these birds and in no time you will sharpen your sparrow identification skills! 

Thank you! Bird-A-Thon goal reached! 

We saw a record breaking 218 species during Bird-A-Thon week and now thanks to your generous support, we exceeded our $7K goal! Thank you all...these dollars will help to fund many new projects, conservation efforts and educational opportunities in our six county service area.

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