Chimney Swift by Althea Sherman
Iowa Outdoors - Sherman Swift Tower segment on IPTV
Tune into Iowa Public Television's Iowa Outdoor program to see a segment on the Sherman Chimney Swift Tower.  The program will air on July 19th at 6:30 p.m. on IPTV.1, July 22nd at 9:00 a.m. and July 28th at 9:00 a.m. on LEARN.2   Thanks PRAS Board member, Kris Rash for alerting us to this program. 

In April at our general PRAS program, Robert and the late Linda Scarth provided a first hand photo documentary of a family of Chimney Swifts in the restored Sherman Swift Tower. It was fascinating, and it will be interesting to see this tower featured on Iowa Outdoors. 

Other nature programs on biodiversity, conservation, and endangered and marine animals etc. are also being featured this month on Iowa Public Television. Check out the website to watch online or check the broadcast schedule.

Memorial for Linda Scarth set for August 12th
A memorial service for Linda Scarth will be held at Wikiup Hill Learning Center August 12th at 4 p.m.  Wikiup is located at 10260 Morris Hills Road, Toddville, IA 52431.

On many occasions throughout the years, PRAS members were treated to wonderful photos and edifying stories from Linda and Robert Scarth from Cedar Rapids. Most recently, this past April, the Scarth's shared their photographic documentation of the Althea Sherman Chimney Swift Tower. We are sorry to report that Linda Scarth passed away on July 3, 2017. The world has lost a wonderful champion for nature and she will be greatly missed.

Excerpt from the Cedar Rapids Gazette: "A strong commitment to conservation and an abiding appreciation of beauty led Linda and Robert to photography as a means of highlighting and preserving the natural world. They traveled widely, photographing in Australia, Africa, the Falkland Islands and South America, focusing most closely on nature's smallest inhabitants in exquisite detail. They also photographed animals, birds, landforms and other lovely and interesting subjects. In 2009, they published the book "Deep Nature: Photographs from Iowa," a celebration of the flora and fauna of their Iowa community; its epigraph, Walt Whitman's "every leaf is a miracle," captures the essence of Linda's outlook on life. She generously shared her love of nature by giving many presentations on ecology and photography across the Midwest. From January through May 2018, the Cedar Rapids Museum of10260 Art will host an exhibition of Robert and Linda's photographs. Linda had skill, grace and dedication in abundance and the energy and persistence to transform these qualities into tangible contributions; she brought a thoughtful passion to everything she said and did."

You may enjoy watching IPTV's Iowa Outdoors featuring the Scarths; advance the player to 18:25 to see their segment.

Solar Eclipse 2017: Where will you be?!
While this isn't about birds, many of you may be interested in the upcoming solar eclipse. Here are a couple of possibilities:
Chillicothe, Missouri is reaching out to us about the solar eclipse that is taking place on August 21. Chillicothe is in northern Missouri located at the intersection of Highways 36 and 65. They are hosting a viewing event that day and would like to invite you to experience the eclipse with them. There will be fun activities at this event, and there are still affordable hotel rooms available. The time of totality there will be about one minute and twenty seconds. If you are interested, feel free to email them at back or give them a call at 660-646-4050.
Another option, though without totality, is a viewing event on UNI's campus:
Join the Earth and Environmental Science Department, UNI STEM, and the Iowa Academy of Science in a celebration of the Solar Eclipse on this first day of classes, August 21! Activities available in Rod Library, HUB Room 287 and South of the Campanile. View the partial solar eclipse through a telescope, download free apps on your phone to explore augmented reality earth and space topics and become a part of citizen science, special NASA surprises and more! Free to all.

Blue Grosbeaks vs Indigo Buntings
Blue Grosbeak male, Wikimedia

Blue Grosbeaks are being reported throughout Iowa this summer, with one observed here in Black Hawk County on Little Road, south of Gilbertville, IA. (See the Sightings page for more details).  This species is more commonly seen in the western United States, so when Iowa birders observe it, it generates some excitement!

Have you seen this bird, but assumed it was another Indigo Bunting? Here are a few tips to identify the grosbeak:

Notice the rusty coloring on the shoulders/wings. Also, note the thick heavy, large (gros) black beak, which is characteristic of the grosbeak species. Grosbeaks are larger birds as well.

These birds like brush, roadsides, and streamside thickets. It breeds in dense low growth in semi-open country, including woodland edgers, brushy fields and hedgerows. 

Like other grosbeaks, the Blue Grosbeak's song is lyrical and warbling.  

Indigo Bunting male, Wikimedia

Indigo Buntings are abundant in Iowa during late spring and summer.  These birds also favor brushy pastures, and bushy wood edges. For nesting, they favor roadsides, old fields growing up to bushes, edges of woodlands and other edge habitats. They can also be found in clearings within deciduous woods,often near streams or on the edges of swamps. 

The vivid blue feathers are spectacular on this species, but note that the beak is black, but is not as thick or large as a Blue Grosbeak. Also there are no rusty patches on the wings and the bunting is a much smaller bird than the grosbeak. The Indigo Bunting's song is a rapid, excited warble, with each note or phrase repeated twice.

So, if you see a flash of blue while out birding, take a closer could perhaps stumble across Blue Grosbeak...which just might be a life bird for you!  

Details provided by the Audubon online field guide.

Have you sent in your Bird-A-Thon donations? 

BIRD-A-THON 2017: 214 Species Observed
Solitary Sandpiper-Greenbelt Lake    Photo by Tom Schilke

Here are pictures of a few birds spotted during Bird-A-Thon. What have you seen? Email us at to report your bird sightings made during May 10 - May 16th so we can add them to our species list.
Pileated @ Hartman Photo by T. Schilke

Now that the birding is over, it is time to make a pledge use our print friendly pledge form. 

Remember our Bird-A-Thon campaign is our main fundraiser allowing us to produce our newsletter, The Red Tail, bring in great speakers for our programs and to support great projects and grants throughout our six county service area. 

See the grants we awarded in Spring 2017 on our page titled Making a Difference.

Indigo Bunting    Photo by Tom Schilke

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