Sightings

What are you observing?  Send your reports to praudubon@gmail.com

Curious about a bird that someone has seen? Consult the "Links" page for links to birding ID sites and to see other sightings from birders around Iowa.  Thanks to those who share your observations.

August 4, 2017: Saw 15 white pelicans at Prairie Lakes tonight. Mark T.

July 31, 2017: I have been observing a Blue Grosbeak family at Big Woods Park over a three week period this July.  This Saturday I was able to show my friend both adults and a fledgling.  I saw this species last year on the east side of the lake, and also followed the progress of mated pair on the east end of Fisher Lake last year (and photographed that pair).  It is exciting to think this species is increasing its numbers in the area.  On the darker side, the Blue Grosbeak's northerly march may be further evidence of global warming!  Happy birding, R. 

July 24, 2017: With the humidity down, I enjoyed a nice bike ride on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. There were a lot of singing Dicksissel, Wood Thrush, Great-crested Flycatchers, Mourning Doves and a family of 3 young Blue Jays observed. C.H. 

June 25, 2017: A singing Blue Grosbeak was heard early this morning at the same location it was seen on June 17th and June 10th.  The location is along Little Road, which is SE of Gilbertville, specifically about 1/8th of a mile from the dead end, on the north side of the road, about 100+ yards away from the hedgerows that border the field.T.S.

June 18, 2017: Saw twin fawns near the road at Hickory Hills, near where the goats have been mitigating the honeysuckle. The fawns were cute little guys; they need to stay back in the woods though! There are also two baby bison who were easily visible in their paddock. A walk on the Casey and Overlook Trails at Hickory Hills (Tama County) yielded the regular woodland birds. Notable birds were a singing Scarlet Tanager and a little Chipping Sparrow that was flying ahead of me on the trail for a very long time...it was fun to have a companion for my walk! Then while walking back to the car, in the small pond to the west of the lake, right at the 2nd bridge from the archery shelter, I heard a shrieking female Wood Duck and watched her flying and flopping in the water in a frantic attempt to guard herself and the ducklings from a river otter! It was like watching a nature show on TV...kind of difficult to watch, but that is nature. I didn't see the otter take a duckling per se, but it was lunging at the hen and swimming to the edges of the water. There were at least 2 ducklings that I saw who were able to safely swim across the pond. The hen just kept clucking and calling and going to the edges where her other chicks must have been.- C. Havely

June 17, 2017: This morning, I followed up on an E-bird report of a BLUE GROSBEAK on June 10 by Candace Havely and found a singing male at the indicated location off of Little rd.just southeast of Gilbertville. Also in the area were several GRASSHOPPER Sp. Other birds of interest were, a PROTHONOTARY W. at Winegar-Tobin area in s.e. Blackhawk Co and a pair of GRAY PARTRIDGES in S.W. Buchanan Co. - Tommy S. 

-- I am glad that my Blue Grosbeak sighting from June 10th was confirmed!  -- Candace H. 

June 16, 2017: Saw lots of Red-headed Woodpeckers at McFarlane Park while we were riding bikes on Saturday. The area between the road to the park and the new bridge had at least 3 birds present. Then we were taking a break at the picnic shelter up by the campground and a male Red-headed Woodpecker was working on a tree right across from the shelter...beautiful birds. There was also a really vocal Grey Catbird that was singing and singing in the shrubs near the picnic shelter. - Candace H.

June 13, 2017: There is currently a WESTERN KINGBIRD near the entrance at Hickory Hills park, on south side of entrance road on the barb wire fence and utility wires where there is some surrounding prairie habitat.

June 3, 2017: a Red-necked Grebe and a Western Grebe were seen at George Wyth SP. Look for the birds on the first lake you see after entering the park.

May 31, 2017: Good day, this morning we had the opportunity to see a Red-Shouldered Hawk in flight carrying a snake presumably back to its nest.  We observed this event three different occasions during our 2 hour birding PRAS Wednesday morning birding at North Cedar Natural Resource Project site. Ten PRAS members participated on a .67 mile walk observing 38 species listed below. We observed many Chimney Swifts and an Olive-sided Flycatcher.  Hopefully, the Chimney Swift tower built in 2016 may have a nesting pair this year. This site is very close for Cedar Falls residents and very easy to access.  Make it a point to visit it sometime this summer and enjoy the outdoor setting. Plan on attending a PRAS birding event this fall when we will resume Wednesday Morning Birding. Check for other field trips on our web page for this summer's activities.
Craig and Kris Rash

May 28, 2017: Blue-grey Gnatcatcher gathering spider web for the nest. Greenbelt Lake. Photo by Kenneth Heiar 

May 24, 2017: Good day, ten PRAS members birded the Robertson Bird Sanctuary area led by Tom Schilke for two hours this morning.  We sighted or heard 35 species on our 2 mile walk. We have been fortunate to have Tom and Francis participate in our Birding trips this spring. The  Bay- breasted Warbler was sighted by Francis Moore and Tom Schilke identified the call of the Least Fly catcher and many other species. Plan on attending our field trip next Wednesday when we bird the North Cedar Nature Project area. in Cedar Falls.

May 22, 2017: This morning at Pintail Wetlands on R Ave. in Hardin Co. The viewing tower next to the deck (funded in part by the IOU) is now open. A few minor tweaks are yet to be done. Easy viewing with binos or a scope. I spent a half hour on the tower (25 sp. ) and then took a walk around the water. Some highlights and surprises:

Nelson’s Sparrows - 5 in one clump, probably more, on the south end in wet sedges and brown cattail clumps. They were singing, too. Sounded like walking into a frying pan.

Least Bittern - 1
Black-bellied Plover - 1
Yellow-headed Blackbirds - at least 15
Black Terns - 6
Great Egret - 1, new one for me here
Bank Swallow - another new one for this place
Sedge Wren
Marsh Wrens - abundant like mice
Ruddy Ducks - 8
Lots of goofy sounds

About 30 other species - most can be seen or heard from the deck.
Tom S.


May 21, 2017: A cold walk at Hickory Hills (Tama County) did hold some nice bird sightings. The best birds were: Great Egret, Spotted Sandpiper, 2 Scarlet Tanagers, lots of American Redstarts, and a Black & White Warbler, Chestnut Sided and Magnolia Warblers. There is also a new bison calf and the goats have been deployed to work on mitigating some of the invasive honeysuckle. Candace H.

May 20, 2017: A juvenile Blue Grosbeak was seen in Craig and Kris Rash's back yard.

May 16, 2017: A Northern Harrier was spotted by PRAS member Dave E. in Butler County, bringing our Bird-A-Thon total to 214 species. 

May 16, 2017: Good Day, thanks to Tom Schilke for leading us on our last Bird A Thon field trip this year.  Ten PRAS members enjoyed sighting 59 species while birding Hickory Hills County Park this morning. Eastern Pewee, Green Heron, Field Sparrow, and Wood Thrush were added to our weekly field trip count ending in 129 species sighted this week. Our PRAS tally is now at 213 for the Bird A Thon.  This ends tonight so e-mail or call Craig Rash if a new bird is sighted. Thanks to all for participating and I look forward to receiving your contributions.- Craig Rash

May 15, 2017: 30 species were seen by six PRAS members who ignored the weather reports and birded in windy conditions. Things were pretty quiet, but a Wilson's Warbler and a Common Nighthawk (our 124 field trip count bird) were the best birds at Greenbelt. The group made a quick detour over to the Robinson Bird Sanctuary off of Ranchero Road and birded for just a half hour and found 15 species, including a Blackpoll Warbler, Tennessee Warbler and numerous Swainson's Thrushes. Our Bird-A-Thon week list stands at 212 with additions that Tom Stone shared with Craig.

May 14, 2017: Good Day...42 species were sighted on our 5th Bird A Thon field trip this week as listed below.  We added 1 species to our field trip list making 122 species sighted and 1 to the PRAS list making 187 total sighted. Candace Havlely will  lead Monday's birding at Greenbelt Lake starting at 5:00 PM.  See you then.


May 13, 2017: Good Day.  We had 100 species at today's field trip to Sweet Marsh.  13 PRAS members birded 8 hours and covered approximately 5.3 miles. Our the four day field trip tally is 121 sighting. Three sightings were added to the Bird A-Thon  sightings list bringing the total to 154. species.  Check out the list and help raise the total. See you Sunday, May 14th)at Waverly- Babcock Woods at 4 pm. - Craig
May 12, 2017: Good day, we saw 52 species, plus a Downy and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, sighted during our Friday Bird-A-Thon PRAS field trip to George Wyth State Park.  We birded in the Canfield parking area.  I have been keeping a running tally for species counted during the field trips and we are now at 92 for three days. Six species sighted today brings our total sighting list for PRAS membership to 137.  Plan on attending our Saturday birding to Sweet Marsh. - Craig 

May 11, 2017: A Connecticut Warbler heard only in Robinson Bird Sanctuary this morning. The location was approximately 0.70 mile north of the parking area on Shaulis Rd. The trail passes close to the bank of the creek and an alternate route has been recently mowed to provide a safer route. The bird was heard in the dense brush, no visual sighting. Thanks to a PRAS colleague who posts on eBird for pointing to this great warbler location. - D.E.

May 11, 2017: Bird-A-Thon Field Trip #2: Good Day, listed below are the 36 species sighted on our Bird-A-Thon field trip to Prairie Lakes in Cedar Falls. Nine PRAS members birded and added 7 new birds our weekly sighting chart for the Bird-A-Thon activity found on gopras.org. We are up to 117 species thus far.  The Black Billed Cuckoo was a great find for our list.  See you at George Wyth State Park --Canfield Parking lot  at 10:AM on Friday, May 12th.

May 10, 2017: It was a productive afternoon at Robinson Bird Sanctuary in which 
65 species were tallied in 3 hours. The highlight was a Northern Mockingbird that I
found right as I was about to leave. The bird was located north of Shaulis
Road west of Highway 63 in some bushes near a private quarry. This is the
first Northern Mockingbird I've ever seen in Iowa.
Other highlights include:
-Golden-winged Warbler (2)
-Blue-winged Warbler
-Blackburnian Warbler
-Mourning Warbler (flagged as 'early' on eBird)
-Canada Warbler
-Magnolia Warbler
-Yellow-throated Vireo
-White-crowned Sparrow (12)
-Scarlet Tanager 

-C.L.

May 10, 2017: Bird-A-Thon Field Trip #1: Although we experienced much rain while birding Fontana Park today, 64 species were sighted by Paul Proescholdt, Paul Roisen and five PRAS members. Tom Schilke, Paul and Mark listed Green Heron, Coopers Hawk, Ring-Necked Pheasant, Sedge Wren, Field Sparrow, Flicker and Great Blue Heron being sighted earlier in the morning at Crumbacher Wildlife Area. A good start for our Bird-A-Thon! Thursday, May 11th we plan to bird Prairie Lakes in Cedar Falls. See the Field Trips page for more details.

May 8, 2017: Greenbelt area near Martin lake and ran into a nice pocket of warblers and other migrant passerines. I tallied 19 species of warblers in a couple hours.some of the more notables were, a CERULEAN W.,a LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH ,3 GOLDEN-WINGED W. and a BLUE-WINGED W. And I also saw a unexpected BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO.- T.S.

May 8, 2017: A good day at Robinson Bird Sanctuary today. For the first time this year
it felt as though warbler migration has truly kicked off. I tallied 58
species in 2 hours and 45 minutes. This included 15 warbler species.
Highlights include:
-7 Northern Waterthrush
-2 Golden-winged Warblers
-2 Chestnut-sided Warblers
-3 Ovenbirds
-1 Magnolia Warbler
-18 Palm Warblers (most abundant warbler of the day)
-1 Veery
-1 Eastern-wood Pewee
-1 Swamp Sparrow (unusual for RBS)

--C.L.

May 7, 2017: First Baltimore Oriole sighted in our yard this morning (north of Littleton). Susan W.

May 6, 2017: A Sandhill Crane was observed at a property on the outskirts of Waterloo. The vegetation was too tall to see an offspring, but earlier in the spring a pair of Sandhills were observed in the same general area, so perhaps nesting has taken place. Stay tuned...news will ge shared as it is received. -M.E. and D.C.

May 4, 2017: Around 7 pm Sandhill Cranes were heard calling east of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail not far from the bridge that is just north of the Brett Klima Nature area. Love to hear their calls...they are probably one of my very favorite birds. - Candace H.

May 3, 2017: Good Day, 28 species were sighted today on our PRAS Wednesday morning birding.  19 members attended and wished Linda Plakke HAPPY BIRTHDAY before we birded 2.5 hours and walked approximately 2.5 miles. We all had a chance to view and hear the Hooded Warbler identified on the trail. See you at our monthly PRAS meeting next Tuesday evening. Check out the PRAS Facebook page to see pictures of this gorgeous bird! - Craig and Kris

May 2, 2017: Prairie Lakes yielded 5 Willets near the picnic pavilion at the boat launch area this morning. However, they were not seen later in the day, but a Common Loon in full breeding plumage was!  The Casey's floodplain had 7 Solitary Sandpipers, 2 Least Sandpipers, a Savannah Sparrow and a Palm Warbler with a flyover by a pair of Purple Martins. At the Robinson Bird Sanctuary highlights were: Lark Sparrow, Ovenbird, a Red-headed Woodpecker, and a lingering Dark-eyed Junco.

At Hickory Hills (Tama County) it was pretty quiet, but an Osprey carrying a fish was seen, plus another Osprey was soaring over the lake.

May 1, 2017: It was a good birding day at the Hawkeye Community College campus today. Our goslings hatched over the weekend and we finally got to see all 6 of them with their parents. So cute...my colleagues loved seeing the little ones via my Swarovski scope! I was glad I had my scope at work as I heard a Cooper's Hawk vocalizing while I was walking across campus. This is the first time that I had seen/heard a Cooper's on campus...I was able to get the scope on this bird to and we got some nice looks at this raptor to. Now, we just have to wait till our pond is restocked with fish so the Ospreys will return! - Candace H.

April 26, 2017: Good day, sixteen PRAS members birded Martin Lake this morning.  We sighted 42 species in the 2 hours  15 minute 1.5 mile walk as listed below.  Check field trips on our gopras.org web page for next week's birding location.

April 25, 2017:  A Peregrine Falcon was hanging around the water tower In Independence (near the Courthouse). It was there through at least April 25, but no recent sightings have been reported. The first time I have seen a Peregrine falcon in Buchanan County. A photo of this bird was taken by the editor of the Independence newspaper. Dan C.




April 25, 2017: Went to go see the bluebells at Greenbelt Lake in Waterloo and I was not disappointed. Gorgeous! I sat on a log amongst them for about 30 minutes. A pair of Wood Ducks flew in and landed on the water nearby and I heard the male duck's upslurred zzzeeet call. There were some Blue-winged Teals and what sounded like a Spotted Sandpiper on the lake. But the best birds were the raptors...a Sharpie dashed in front me and dived into the hedge, missing his prey. That was cool to see. I then checked out the usual nest site of the Barred Owls and was not disappointed as I observed both adults at the nest box. - Candace H.

April 22, 23 & 24th, 2017: On Saturday the "bird of the day" at Hickory Hills (Tama County) was a Red breasted Nuthatch! Seen on the West Paha Trail. Sunday I sat and watched a foraging female Pileated Woodpecker for about 10 minutes from about 25-30 feet. It was cool...you could see it using its long tongue.  I saw the same bird Monday during my walk on the West Paha Trail. The bluebells are blooming and the carpet of tiny white flowers back in the woods off this trail are beautiful right now. - Candace H.

April 20, 2017: Prairie Lakes, Cedar Falls: 1 single Avocet, Herring Gulls - 3 - third cycle, Sandpipers-Pectoral - 1, Least Sandpiper - 1, Spotted - 2; Gr. Yellow legs - 11; 20 oz. Pepsi bottle - 1
In the plums - now in full bloom - Yellow warbler - early

Big Woods Lake
Common Loon

Geo. Wyth in the plums
Orange-crowned Warbler - 2
Palm - 1

Greenbelt Lake
Solitary Sandpiper - FOY - Tom S.

April 19, 2017: Hickory Hills field trip: See the 48 species that were observed.  Notable birds were 2 Osprey, 1 Broad-winged Hawk, a Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler and lots of birds singing (Eastern & Western Meadowlarks, Brown Thrashers, etc.) See you next Wed, April 26th at Greenbelt Lake in Waterloo. - Craig & Kris Rash

April 17, 2017: Various locations near Cedar Falls: 
Cedar Hills Sand Prairie - Monday after dusk
Henslow’s Sparrow
Woodcock - at least 10 from the road, 4 in the burned area
Wilson’s snipe - winnowing
Coyotes howling
E. Gray tree frogs - 3

Beaver Valley Wetland
The regional airport for Pelicans
Sit on the deck in the morning and watch them circle for a landing, approach, take off, eject waste, sit on the tarmac.
Blandings turtle - hit by a car
Bullfrog - ironed out on the highway.
 -- Tom S.


April 12, 2017: Good day...another good day for birding. No rain, wind and temperatures in the high 50's to 65 degrees. Attached is a list of 47 species, including a Pine Warbler and Gray-cheeked Thrush that were sighted by 16 members of our PRAS Wednesday morning birding group while we birded George Wyth State park near the bird feeding station we support.  The Bonaparte Gull,  Field Sparrow and Cowbird were sighted earlier at Brinker's Lake by Dave Eastman,Tom Stone and Tom Moon. Plan to attend next Wednesday's birding when we meet at 9:00 AM at the West  (Archery) parking lot.  Call 319-984 5608 if directions are needed.  See you there. Craig and Kris Rash

April 12, 2017: Biking the Cedar Valley Trail tonight, I saw a pair of Belted Kingfishers, my FOY Brown Thrasher (I heard another one singing on a different section of the trail) and a FOY Field Sparrow. There are Wood Ducks galore and I also heard a Barred Owl call.-- Candace H. 

April 9, 2017: While on a gusty bike ride along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, south of Gilbertville, we saw 2 Great Egrets and saw 80+ turtles (at least one big snapper among them, most were Painted Turtles) and a couple large Bullfrog tadpoles; heard Eastern Meadowlarks and saw my FOY (First of the Year) Yellow Rumped Warbler! - Candace H.

April 5, 2017: 1st 2017 Wednesday Morning birding expedition-Big Woods Lake, Cedar Falls: Good day, here are the 49 species that 16 PRAS members had the opportunity to see while on our Wednesday morning birding at Big Woods Lake this morning.We birded for 3.5 hours and walked over 4 miles. Most of our outings will not be this long, but after a long winter we were ready to go. Last year we sighted 40 species at Waterloo Green belt Lake area. See you next Wednesday at George Wyth. Craig Rash

April 2, 2017: A Brown Creeper was my surprise feeder bird today! It was coming to get suet crumbs on the ground that had fallen from the Downy Woodpecker feeding on the suet block. I've also had several Dark-eyed Juncos eating leftover suet crumbs as well. - Candace H. 

April 1, 2017: I met a fellow birder on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail; notable birds he had observed were Greater Yellow Legs and a Rusty Blackbird on the small wetlands near the trail. I didn't have my binocs with me, but I enjoyed the persistent melodies of the Eastern Phoebes, Song Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks as I cycled. - Candace H.

March 28, 2017: An adult Golden Eagle was observed soaring over the Canfield area and then again over Brinker Lake.

March 25, 2017: A Loggerhead Shrike was working the fenceline near the same area where they nested last year along county highway D-65 just east of the intersection of county highway V-37 which is about two miles south of Hickory Hills park.The bird was about a half mile east of the intersection.

March 21, 2017: Two Merlins were seen in the same general area of Ridgeway and just west of Kimball today. The tree they nested in last year has blown down, but hopefully they'll find another in the neighborhood. Keep your eyes and ears or for these great birds and let us know if you see them to! 

March 19, 2017: I stopped by Gilbertville's Cedar River Milling to see if I could see the Varied Thrush, but didn't see it. The large pond just west of Gilbertville had a lot of ducks. Most notably there were lots of Lesser Scaup, a few Canvasbacks, a few Redheads, at least one pair of Ring-necked Ducks, a few shovelers and mallards. There were more ducks at the far end of the pond that could not be distinguished without a scope. Candace H.

March 19, 2017: Butler County-Big Marsh: Rusty Blackbirds, Wilson Snipe, Pectoral Sandpiper along with Killdeer, a male Harrier, American Pipits, diving ducks, Snow and Greater White-fronted Geese, a mink and 10 Trumpeter Swans.

March 17 2017: A Brewer's Duck, a hybrid between a Gadwall and a Mallard was seen at Prairie Lakes.

March 17, 2017:Cedar River Milling feed mill in Gilbertville, and the owner showed me a photo of a male Varied Thrush that was taken at a feeder just outside of Gilbertville this week.

March 7, 2017: Notable Hickory Hills birds included a Northern Saw-whet Owl, Pileated Woodpecker and a Fox Sparrow.

March, 2, 2017: Big Marsh in Butler County is full of Snow Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese and other waterfowl. Take a look...and check out our PRAS Flickr feed for more photos.




February 25, 2017: There were two male Hooded Mergansers calling and displaying for a single female Hoodie in the small pond east of the campground at Hickory Hills in Tama County, just south of Waterloo. If you haven't heard a "hoodie" call, it is really interesting; it is not a "quack", that is for sure. Other notable birds seen/heard at Hickory Hills today include: Belted Kingfisher, Northern Saw-whet Owl, 10 Eastern Bluebirds, Pileated Woodpecker (heard). At Greenbelt Lake in Waterloo: 1 lone male Northern Shoveler
2 pair of Gadwall, About 10 Mallards, Canada Geese, 1 mature Bald Eagle did a fly over the lake.No Saw-whet that I could find. - Candace H.

February 19, 2017: The gorgeous morning made a perfect time to do a GBBC (Great Backyard Bird Count) at Hickory Hills Sunday. The morning started off nicely with a singing bluebird near the parking lot and just got better and better.I walked the Casey Lake Trail and saw the usual woodland birds, Brown Creeper, Red-bellied & Downy Woodpecker, a small flock of Cedar Waxwings counted along with 5 Trumpeter Swans who announced their presence with their wonderful calls and hundreds of Greater-White Fronted and Snow Geese flying overhead. I also saw two Robins and heard Killdeer call from two different locations. In the afternoon, I walked some of the West Paha and Wood Duck trails and found a Rough-Legged Hawk and the Northern Saw-Whet Owl that Tom S. said should be on his/her perch. - Candace H.

February 18, 2017: I did counts for Audubon's Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) this weekend and was amazed to find 20 Bald Eagles (10 mature) on that farm pond area just west of the Gilbertville on the south side of the road! I had never seen so many congregate. Some were perched in the tall trees nearby, some were flying in the vicinity and some were on the ice. While I was there, I heard my first of the year (FOY) Killdeer! - Candace H.

February 8, 2017: Two snowy owls were seen in Howard County north of Highway 9 on Iris Avenue. One adult male(very nearly pure white) and one female.

They were between 80th and 70th ST, on the east side of the road-don't know if they mate for life, but they definitely behave like a pair. I've seen them three times and they're always close to each other and take the same flight path if flushed.

This is the third year in a row that I've seen snowys-including an adult male-in this location., and if the last two years are an indication they'll stay for another week or two. - Howard County Birder


February 5, 2017: West of Janesville, a half mile on W. Barrick Road, there were 13 Trumpeter Swans in the cornfield...nice. - Cindy L.

February 5, 2017: Hickory Hills (Tama County) was kind of quiet, but I heard a calling Barred Owl, & a Red-bellied Woodpecker. I also saw and heard a Brown Creeper--I was pleased that I am now recognizing their high pitched call! A White-breasted Nuthatch was also calling and foraging in the same area as the Creeper. - Candace H.

February 4, 2017: At Greenbelt Lake, there was one Northern Saw-whet Owl on the usual perch, chickadees and Pileated and Hairy Woodpeckers. There was also a bird "chipping" in the marshy area on the east side of the lake...it was not visible, but the call sounded similiar to a Song Sparrow. - Candace H.

February 1, 2017: Several Eastern Bluebirds were seen at Hickory Hills (Tama County). Can spring be far behind?! Check out the Speaking of Nature blog for a gorgeous photo of this species and many other winter visitors.

January 29, 2017: Two Trumpeter Swans were seen in a snowy corn field a bit east of Hudson on Schrock Road. Candace H.

January 27, 2017: A Short-eared Owl was observed being harassed by a crow in Black Hawk County near one of the prairie areas adjacent to John Deere's private property. PRAS members are also continuing to see at least one Northern Saw-Whet and one Long-eared Owl at Greenbelt Lake.  The Long-eared Owl (LEOW) is not always readily seen. As always, please be respectful of private property surrounding the habitats where birds are observed and in particular for these owls, please take care not to flush them unnecessarily from their perches, especially during the winter months when energy conservation is paramount to their well being.  

January 15, 2017: While doing the National Audubon Bluebird survey in the Gilbertville area, I found a beautiful Rough-legged Hawk on a power pole west of the hunting range on Miller Creek Rd. Other birds observed: Two juvenile Bald Eagles, 1 Northern Harrier, 1 American Kestrel, quite a few Red-tailed Hawks, including one vocalizing on its perch, Starlings, Blue Jays, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Chickadees on my survey. I decided to follow up on a lead re: a possible immature Snowy Owl near the Waverly aiport and on the way north along Hwy 218 saw 3 more Kestrels, probably six more Red-Tails and 2 other Rough-legged Hawks. I didn't relocate the possible Snowy Owl, but if anyone in that area does, please let us know. - Candace H.

January 15, 2017: Hickory Hills Park: Highlights of the day included two Saw-whet Owls, a Northern Harrier, a Rough-legged Hawk, and high numbers of Brown Creepers with six, as well as nineteen White-throated Sparrows. 

January 15, 2017: Lone Bohemian Waxwing at Cedar River Natural Resource Area among some Cedar Waxwings and Robins feeding on Honeysuckle berries.I located it by hearing the distinctive trill call and got a good look at the distinctive rufous undertail coverts. From the parking lot, walk east on road and take a right at park closes sign and walk about 30 yards in til you see some pines.

January 15, 2017:  Observations in Black Hawk and Butler Counties: At Martin Lake (Greenbelt Lake), a continuing Saw-whet Owl and Pileated Woodpecker. Big Marsh: On the way, a flock of 300+ Lapland Longspurs. At the marsh, I saw a Savannah Sparrow, 3 Swamp Sparrows,3 Northern Shrikes, a Red-breasted Nuthatch and 2 Rough-legged Hawks. On the way home,I checked George Wyth S.P. and saw the continuing Sandhill Crane and 3 Black Ducks. At the feeders, Carolina Wren and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

January 13, 2017: Prairie Rapids received an email reporting a possible immature Snowy Owl that flew over the road near the Waverly airport in Bremer County on Friday afternoon.

December 18, 2016: CBC Results of PRAS counts: Fourteen PRAS members enjoyed an abundance of good food and conversation during our compilation potluck held Sunday evening, Dec. 18th. Sixteen intrepid birders braved the blowing snow and frigid sub-zero temperatures for the CBCs held on Dec 17th & 18th.  The Bremer County CBC yielded 46 species with notable species being: White-tronted Geese, Ring-necked Pheasants, Gray Partridge, a Long-eared Owl, 2 Northern Shrike (2), Rusty Blackbird (1), Swamp Sparrow (1), Purple Finch, Lapland Longspur and Snow Buntings, Red-headed Woodpecker and Rough-legged Hawk.

The Cedar Falls-Waterloo CBC count tallied 61 species (which is above our average of 50-52 species). Notable species include: Common Goldeneye, American Black Duck, Ring-necked Duck, Common and Hooded Mergansers, Lesser Scaup, Cackling Geese, Pileated Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Saw-whet Owl (2), Fox Sparrow, Eurasian Collared Dove, Red-winged Blackbird, Grackle, Pine Siskin, Eastern Bluebird, Barred Owl. Thanks to all who participated birding in the field or counting at your home. Please send your data to Francis Moore at superfoot99@msn.com if you haven't submitted your findings.

December 7, 2016: A juvenile Brant was observed with 4 Canada Geese on John Deere's northeast site. The bird flushed with the geese and may be visible on different nearby ponds.

December 7, 2016: A Tufted Titmouse was seen at a Cedar Falls bird feeder.

December 5-6, 2016: The two Long-eared Owls at Greenbelt Lake are still visible when they can be found. They sometimes hide incredibly well and seem to not be flushing from their perches as much, so they can be tricky to find.  There are also 2 Saw-whet owls that are in the same general area. One Saw-whet had a White-footed Deer Mouse in his talons on his perch, the evidence of a successful hunt. 

December 2-3, 2016: At Greenbelt (Martin) Lake in Waterloo, PRAS members and a few birders from Cedar Rapids observed the Long-eared Owl perching up high in a pine tree on Friday afternoon; however even though 8 birders looked for this bird on Saturday, it was not found.  However, one Northern Saw-whet Owl was observed both in the morning and in the late afternoon.

December 1, 2016: A Northern Saw-whet Owl was also seen at Martin (Greenbelt) Lake in Waterloo. 


Long-eared Owl - Martin Lake, W'loo  Photo by Tom Schilke


November 30, 2016: A Long-eared Owl has been seen at Martin Lake (aka Greenbelt Lake) in Waterloo in a cedar tree. Tom Moon, PRAS member spotted it. The bird was also seen on Dec.1st in the same tree. Please try not to spook this bird, view it from the east. The owl is in the trees that are behind the house that is near the parking lot. If you want more specific info, email praudubon@gmail.com  
Snowy Owl treated at Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation

November 29, 2016: Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project received a Snowy Owl. It appears to only have a slight head injury and be dehydrated. It is expected to be just fine and will be returned to the wild. Snowies have been reported in Iowa, so keep your eyes out. If you find an injured raptor or wild creature, call the Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation hotline to seek help: 319-277-6511.

November 21, 2016: 3 White-winged Scoters were on the John Deere pond. The pond is located on John Deere property along Newell St. in Waterloo. There is no access other then to park on shoulder and look from the south side, but the pond is elevated so you have to walk up to it. - Tom S. 

November 20, 2016: At least 2 Brown Creepers were on the Casey Lake Trail at Hickory Hills (Tama County). I watched one forage for about 5 minutes, but I could hear at least one additional creeper vocalizing in the general vicinity. - Candace H.

November 8, 2016: Two White-winged Scoters were seen at Casey Lake, Hickory Hills Park in Tama County. Also a Northern Shrike was seen. - Tom S. 

November 1, 2016: Good day, Tom Moon , Kris and Craig Rash birded the East side of lower lake at Sweet Marsh today.  We enjoyed 72 degree weather and a calm late afternoon hike with a splendid sunset listening to the call of the Sandhill Cranes! See our ebird list for the 28 species observed. Now if only the Indians can win game 6 tonight. - Craig R.

October 26, 2016: Good Day, four PRAS members birded the Big Woods Lake region in Cedar Falls this morning for 2 hours and sighted 19 birds. Continue to look in field trip section of web site for future birding. - Craig R.



October 26, 2016: A juvenile female Black Scoter was observed near the northwest end of the main lake at Prairie Lakes in Cedar Falls. -Tom S.

October 23, 2016: While riding bikes along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail I saw a Pied-billed Grebe do its submarine trick where it just sinks under water when it is startled. Pretty cool! Saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk at Greenbelt Lake earlier in the day. - Candace H. 

October 22, 2016: PRAS member, Candace Havely, participated in the Grammer Grove Hawkwatch. The winds were not ideal on Saturday, so there weren't a lot of birds, but about a dozen Red-tailed Hawks, 6 Sharp-shinned Hawks and 3 Bald Eagles were observed during the time I was counting with Mark Proescheldt. It was a beautiful day to be out and seeing migrating hawks and other birds was a plus! - Candace H.

October 19, 2016: Good day--eight members of PRAS birded Hickory Hills Wednesday morning and sighted 32 species. We decided to bird Big Woods Lake area in Cedar Falls next Wednesday, Oct. 26th. Plan to meet at the south entrance to Big Woods at 8:30 AM. -- Craig 

October 18, 2016: Two PRAS board members have reported seeing Red-breasted Nuthatches at their feeders. This year is a bit of an irruption year for this species, so don't be surprised if you see these birds at your feeders to!  Candace H.

October 12, 2016: Good day We did go birding this morning and did not get wet.The rains came a little later in the morning. Four members of PRAS birded Babcock Woods for 2 hours this morning and sighted 18 speciesI believe Bremer County or Waverly Parks is looking for a volunteer to fill bird feeders at this sight.  The feeders were empty. If you care to participate in this activity, please contact me at 319 984 5608. We did sight a Hermit Thrush and might have herd an Eastern Towhee. Plan on attending next week birding at Hickory Hills State Park. --Craig Rash

October 6, 2016: Good Day, this is a list of the 34 species observed on our PRAS birding to Heritage Valley, Allamakee County, Thursday, 06 October.  Brian Frankhauser and Tom Schilke guided 14 members on a walk near the old barn foundations and the Upper Iowa River.  We later met at Sue and Chuck LeMaster's cabin for an afternoon lunch and then some birding. -- Craig R. 


PRAS members with Bill Witt at Heritage Valley, Allamakee County


October 5, 2016: There were 6 Great Egrets and one Blue Heron roosting in the trees by the large wet meadow about 3.5 miles south of the Gilbertville Depot on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. Great Egrets are my favorite wading bird, so I was so pleased to have them grace my lovely bike ride at the golden time of the evening. -- Candace H.

October 2, 2016: When I rode south on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail from Gilbertville, there was a very vocal Pileated Woodpecker calling around the 45 mile marker. On my return ride, back to the depot, not only did I hear the bird again, but got to see the bird in flight. Always a pleasure! Lots of little warbler/kinglet looking birds flitting in the trees along the trail. Also, there are a lot of Catbirds and Northern Flickers. -- Candace H.

September 29, 2016: Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creeper, Winter Wrens, White-throated Sparrows - the most abundant bird. The fall birds are arriving! - Tom S.


September 27, 2016: Hickory Hills, Tama County: Dark-eyed Junco - oh no! Northern flickers - abundant; Orange crowned, Nashville, Yellow-rumped, Tennessee warblers. Palm warbler. Towhees & about 25 other species. - Tom S.


September 21, 2016: Good Day, another nice day to go birding.  Eleven PRAS members attended our Wednesday morning birding of George Wyth Park.  We sighted 32 species.  Tom Moon took a picture of the Merlin as we left the east side of the lake and the Pelican was near the dock at the east side of the lake.  We observed many (6) Egrets, Cormorants ( 8) and the Caspian Tern on the south side of the lake when we entered the Park. Plan on attending our birding next Wednesday morning.  We will meet at the south entrance to Big Woods Lake at 8:30 AM. Enjoy a week of birding! --Craig Rash


September 14, 2016: Good day, we conducted our first Wednesday morning  PRAS field trip this fall by birding the North Cedar Project in Cedar Falls Iowa.  Thirteen PRAS members attended and received a short presentation by Jim Newcomb about the development of this 16 acre site.  Our Society is very supportive of this developing site and were able to see the Chimney Swift tower and two benches that have been funded by PRAS grants during our birding.  We sighted 23 species. Please take the time to visit this site and experience one of the communities newest wildlife centers. Check out the North Cedar Neighborhood Associations Facebook page to see more pictures and read about their efforts/events.  -- Craig and Kris R.

September 11 & 12, 2016: I saw a small kettle of raptors about 10 a.m. Sunday morning at Hickory Hills in Tama County. The kettle had a mature Bald Eagle, six Turkey Vultures and 2 Broad-winged Hawks. I saw 2 other Broad-winged Hawks; one was perched in the forest. So exciting to see raptors on the move.  Later I found a pocket of warblers which included a Nashville, Tennessee and a Blackpoll.  Today at Hickory Hills, I saw a Black-billed Cuckoo, only the 3rd one I have ever seen! -- C. Havely

September 10, 2016: 7 PRAS members convened at dusk to count Chimney Swifts at Orange School in Waterloo for the national "Swift Night Out" count. There were 67 swifts counted at the old school chimneys; on Friday, September 9th, approximately 75 swifts were counted using the two new towers at the new school.  The strong winds on Saturday might have encouraged some birds to disperse on their journey south. 

September 10, 2016: 16 PRAS members enjoyed a lovely day at the Folkert's farm in Butler County. Max and Marianne were gracious hosts and we enjoyed seeing the prairie restoration and the beautiful grasses and all of the other great bird habitat. Notable sightings: A Red-breasted Nuthatch at the Folkert's feeders! Baltimore Orioles, lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Cedar Waxwings, Olive-sided Flycatcher and a few squadrons of migrating American White Pelicans. Notable non-avian sightings include: Lots of Monarch Butterflies, a Western Chorus Frog, White Turtlehead (Chelone Glabra), and at Big Marsh we saw a crawdad!
Thank you Max and Marianne for the great wagon ride and the snacks and delightful raspberry iced tea. Thank you most of all for being committed to practicing conservation practices that really make a difference...we applaud your hard work! See the list of 33 birds we observed.


Folkerts Prairie with Big & Little Blue Stem, Indian Grass, Milkweed and other prairie plants. - Butler County

Western Chorus Frog - black eye stripe is indicative of this species.

A crawdad making its way to the water @ Big Marsh. Very cool to see this creature.


July 28, 2016: A juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron was seen at the Aldo Leopold W.A. in Bremer County and a Blue Grosbeak in 1st summer plumage was singing along Timber Ave. which runs along the west border of Aldo Leopold W.A. There were also 5 Red-Shouldered Hawks and a Henslow's Sparrow were also observed. - Tommy S. 

July 19, 2016: An American Redstart was seen along the Cedar Valley Bike Trail south of Gilbertville.

July 15, 2016: Three juvenile Merlins have been observed in a Waterloo neighborhood. See the PRAS home page for more details.


June 29, 2016: A Blue Grosbeak was seen near Indian Mounds at Big Woods Lake in Cedar Falls. A Yellow-breasted Chat (the largest warbler in the U.S.) is on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail by the Steven Dettmer bench, about a mile from the pedestrian bridge over the Cedar at Evansdale or about 150 yards from the very north end of Foulk RD.  It sings all the time and is on territory. -- See the "Photos" link for pictures of these great birds. 


May 25, 2016: Wednesday morning birding @ Hickory Hills: This did turn out to be another extraordinary day for birding, led by Craig and Kris Rash and Bruce and Linda Plakke.  The rain ended just as we began our birding.  We sighted 45 species which totals to 122 species we sighted during our 7 weeks of Wednesday birding this spring.  It looks like the Warblers have moved through, but we did sight an Orchard Oriole and a Northern Goshawk.  First time for me we sighted the Goshawk on a Wednesday birding.  If your interested in seeing and hearing  the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, then drive out to Hickory Hills and park near the Archery site lot. Keep checking in our field trip section of our web page for trips you might want to participate in. Thanks for participating in our spring field trips...see you this fall.

May 22, 2016: McGregor and Mississippi River, Effigy Mounds
51 species were sighted on the Sunday morning Mississippi  boat birding led by Jon Stravers and Robert Vavra. This was a perfect day for boating and Robert Vavra made every effort for us to see the birds listed.  We did see the Cerulean Warbler and a mink try to capture a muskrat. Young eagles in nests and Prothonotary Warblers and the Peregrine Falcon was perched outside his nesting box on the elevator near our launch. We were pleased to have Linda and Bob Scarth amongst the 32 birders this morning. Those  of you planning for the June 19 Mississippi birding should have a rewarding day. -- Craig
Five additional species were found by the group at Effigy Mounds that afternoon.

May 18, 2016: Wednesday morning birding @ George Wyth SP: Twelve members of PRAS birded the bird blind area of George Wyth on May 18 from 8:30-11 with Tom Schilke as our guide. Tom and Bruce Plakke heard a Hooded Warbler while driving to our parking lot. We observed the Red-Shouldered Hawk flying overhead with a small snake on it way to its nest. There were 44 species sighted.-- Craig

May 12, 2016: Thursday-Bird-A-Thon field trip @ Hickory Hills Park: Good Day, five PRAS members birded Hickory Hill this morning and sighted 54 species.  The Common Nighthawk and Northern Mockingbird will be added to our weekly sighting list  resulting in a total of 155 species to date. Thanks to Tom Moon, Linda and Bruce Plakke for joining Kris and myself in another extraordinary day of birding. Plan on attending Big Woods birding tomorrow when Joel and Linda Haack share their time birding the nature trail area starting at 5:00 pm. OH! and thanks to Dave Eastman for his sighting of the Harlequin Duck  yesterday in Waterloo; verified by Tom Stone.--Craig Rash

May 11, 2016: Harlequin Duck--Click the link to see what PRAS member Dave Eastman spotted around noon under the 11th street bridge in Waterloo! PRAS member Tom Stone also observed this duck, but when we went down around 5 PM the bird was not seen.-- Craig

This bird is a GREAT find anytime of the year, but what a bonus to see it during Bird-A-Thon week!  Well done Dave! -- Candace


May 11, 2016: Wednesday-Bird-A-Thon field trip @ Fontana Park & Ham Marsh: Good Day...first, thank you Dan Cohen  for leading us on our birding at Fontana this morning. 12 PRAS members and one visitor attended as we sighted 56 species. The Bay-Brested Warbler and Magnolia Warbler will be added as new sightings to our weekly sighting list.The upkeep of this park always impresses me and I encourage you to plan to visit Fontana Park this spring and enjoy the birding trails. Some of us decided to spend some time birding at Ham Marsh this afternoon led by Tom Moon where we saw 45 speciesPlan on attending Thursday's birding at Hickory Hills starting at 9:30 AM--Craig

May 10, 2016: Tuesday-Bird-A-Thon field trip @ Otter Creek Marsh: Good Day,Tom Stone and Craig Rash birded The Otter Creek Marsh for an hour and half this morning. We managed to identify 45 species and added Connecticut Warbler, Great Egret and Ruddy Duck to our weekly sighting list which stands at 135 species. We returned home around noon in order  to get ready for the PRAS meeting tonight.  Looking forward to Kip's presentation.See you there.Tomorrow we travel to Fontana Park south of Oelwein. -- Craig

May 9, 2016: Monday-Bird-A-Thon field trip @ Greenbelt Lake: Good Day, yes it did rain during our 3rd Bird-A-Thon event, but only the last ten minutes when thunder convinced us to return to our cars.  Five PRAS members were led by Candace Havley as we birded Greenbelt Lake for an hour Monday.  We sighted 27 species and will be adding the Wood Thrush to our weekly birding list. Currently our list reflects 126 sightings that you have contacted me with. We will meet at the Grey Hound parking lot located at Hwy 63 and Hwy 20 at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning and decide on going to Otter Creek (weather might interrupt this event).
Craig 

May 8, 2016: Sunday-Bird-A-Thon field trip @ Cedar Valley Nature Trail: Nine PRAS members participated on our Bird-A-Thon  birding of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail near Washburn. We birded 1.5 hours and decided to go on for another 1.5 hours.  Last year we sighted 45 species over the same area and this year we sighted 50 species.  I will add the Eastern Kingbird and Barred Owl  as new sightings to our weekly talley sheet on our web page. Plan on attending birding of Greenbelt Lake (Martin Lake) with our resident expert Candace Havely. She will be waiting at the parking lot at Greenbelt Lake right off Hwy 63.  ---Craig

May 7, 2016: Saturday-1st Bird-A-Thon field trip at Sweet Marsh, Bremer County: Good Day; 12 PRAS members participated in our first Bird-A-Thon event and  birded Sweet Marsh today. 110 species +1 more--the Golden-winged Warbler were sighted and a Green Heron and Northern Harrier were sighted on the way home by three of our members for a grand total of 112!  Last year we sighted 114 species at the Marsh during the 2015 event. 
Bull Snake rescued from the road; a Garter Snake was not so lucky.
We walked over 7 miles today and enjoyed Tom Moon demonstrate his understanding of snakes as he picked up a Bull Snake from the middle of the road and gave us a close look before he turned it loose safely on the grass. 
Come join us Sunday at  4:30 PM as we bird the Cedar Valley Nature Trail starting near the Ceder River Milling Co. , May 8th. Keep birding and check the sightings list on our home page (gopras.org for the current status of our week's count. -- Craig Rash


May 4, 2016: Wednesday morning birding:  Here is a list of 36 birds sighted on this mornings birding of lower Hartman Wildlife area.  Eleven PRAS members attended the 3. 09 mile walk.   Next Saturday (May 7th) is the first day of our Bird A Thon when we will bird Sweet Marsh and next Wednesday we will bird Fontana Park near Oelwein.  Access the field trips page on gopras.org for details. Big week for birding coming up. Plan on attending. Craig Rash 


Juvenile Great Horned Owl-Greenbelt Lake Photo by T. Mikesh
April 22, 2016-- EARTH DAY! There is some bad news...the Great Horned Owl nesting tree at Greenbelt Lake in Waterloo has toppled over.  This apparently happened Wednesday (April 20th) night, a kind gentleman who has been watching the owlets told us. There were two owlets before, but there is only one that has been observed since Thursday. The fellow owl enthusiast, named Glen, helped Terri Mikesh (a visiting photographer from Ohio), Stacy (a birder from the Evansdale area) and I locate the one juvenile. 

Terri shot a great photo of this remaining owlet. Perhaps the other owlet was branching elsewhere and escaped our attention. Hopefully...if anyone sees two juvenile owls, please let us know -- post a message to our Facebook page or email candace69001@gmail.com

Terri shot some other wonderful photos of Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebes, Wood Ducks and a handsome Solitary Sandpiper during our walk. Check the photos out on the PRAS Flickr feed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/prairierapidsaudubon/



April 20, 2016: Good Day, it finally happened.  We had more birders than the number of bird sighted on our first leg of birding this morning.  That is a first for me.  Fifteen PRAS members had the opportunity to see 11 species at Ulrich Park. The Plakke’s also saw a Great Blue Heron, Great Egret and an American Bittern, so 3 more species can be added to our list. We had a great turn out. Tom Moon, Linda Haack, Kris and I birded the Beaver Pond and Railroad Lake area from 10-noon and sighted 17 additional species that will be identified in the next report. We walked in a light mist for about 15 minutes and then the sun broke out for the remainder of our birding. Next week we will meet at 8:30 AM at the visitor center off Hudson Road in Cedar Falls and bird Prairie Lakes.  Hope to see you there. Craig Rash 



April 13, 2016: Good Day, here are the 41 species (+ a Harris Sparrow) sighted during our 2.5 hour  Wednesday morning PRAS birding at Big Woods Lake.  14 attended our 2.75 mile birding.   We added 11 new species  to this spring's tally resulting in 51 to date.Truly, an extraordinary day. Plan on attending our next birding Wednesday, April 13 at Ulrich Park west of Cedar Falls off Union Road. See you then. Scribe:  Craig Rash

April 6, 2016: Good Day...Nine PRAS members participated in the Wednesday morning birding of Martin Lake which is part of the Greenbelt of Waterloo from 8:30 to 10:30. We sighted 40 species. We  hiked 1.38 miles without being rained on and even took the time to observe the bluebells. Plan on attending next week when we bird The Big Woods Lake area in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  Meet you in the parking lot at 8:30 AM. - Craig R.

Good Day...Tom Moon, Kris and I drove through George Wyth State Park from 11-12 a.m. after our morning PRAS birding today; we sighted these birds. Craig. R.

April 4, 2016: Gold and Ruby Crowned Kinglets, vocalizing Pileated Woodpeckers and Belted Kingfishers, Eastern Phoebes, a mature Bald Eagle, numerous Turkey Vultures and Northern Shovelers were the birds seen at Hickory Hills in Tama County.  The Shovelers were doing their "took, took" call/grumble...it is really interesting to hear them. You could clearly hear them and their flight calls---here is a recording of what they sounded like. Candace H.

April 3, 2016: Gold and Ruby Crowned Kinglets were out in force at Greenbelt Lake. An Eastern Phoebe, juvenile Bald Eagle, Pied-billed Grebes, a few Northern Shovelers, a single Blue-winged Teal, Coopers Hawk and the Great Horned owlets were the highlight of a short walk with fellow Iowa Ornitholgists Union members. The April 6th field trip to Greenbelt should have a good time. Candace H.

March 29, 2016: A quick walk around Greenbelt (Martin) Lake yielded no real waterfowl except the pair of Mallards.  On Sunday (March 27th) there were about a dozen Northern Shoveler and a couple pairs of Pied-billed Grebees. There were however two owlets and an adult Great Horned Owl on the nest and a small flock of lovely Gold-crowned Kinglets. Candace H.

March 26, 2016: Today I enjoyed some really good looks at a juvenile Golden Eagle at Big Marsh in Butler county. I first saw it on the west side,then later relocated it on east side perched in a small tree where it was pretty content on resting and preening until a juv.Bald Eagle landed next to it. It was a great side by side comparison. The G.Eagle seemed a little agitated by the B. Eagles presence, but stood it's ground and eventually won the stare down and the B. Eagle flew off. Other interesting birds were two Am.Black Ducks,a Ross's Goose and several Rusty Blackbirds. Tommy S. 

March 9, 2016: Good Day, 29 species were sighted on Wednesday morning field trip led by Tom Schilke.  Six PRAS members attended the birding at George Wyth State Park,  We, also, had the opportunity to observe an otter swimming in the lake. Watch for an e-mail and check GOPRAS.ORG for the next field trip being planned.  Hopefully, the weather is cooperating so we can plan a birding for next week.  It was a nice day to be in the woods. Scribe...Craig Rash

February 13, 2016: Two PRAS members birded various locales in Hardin County and saw the regular winter birds (Juncos, Tree Sparrows, Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, etc.) but we also saw a nice flock of Wild Turkeys, Horned Larks, Barred Owl. The best birds of the day were 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches at the Hardin CCB headquarters and a Hermit Thrush and Belted Kingfisher at the creek in Pine Lake. - Candace H.

January 18, 2016: On Jan 18th six PRAS birders dressed for the sub zero cold to bird around Big Marsh and Heery Woods Nature Center in Butler Co.  We birded around the office/maintenance area on the south, the roads on the west, and at Max Folkerts feeders on the north before heading over to Heery Woods where we met naturalist Steve Martin to be our guide for the exhibits inside and nice feeder set up (funded in part with a PRAS grant).  26 birds species were seen on the day including great horned owl, barred owl (next to the road), northern shrikes, lots of purple finches and gold finches, a large flock of robins, rough legged hawk, bald eagles, pheasants, horned larks, and several gray squirrels at Heery Woods. 

 January 5, 2016: On 1/5/16 I spotted a Greate Heron flying over a snow covered field a few miles north of Dewer, Iowa. Tom W. Denver, Iowa

December 28, 2015: Sunday a juvenile Golden Eagle was patrolling the Brett Klima W.A. and at Cedar River Natural Resource Area I was able to locate a N. Saw-whet Owl roosting about 30 feet up in a White Pine. This was near the park entrance near the same location one was last winter. And an Eastern Towhee has been coming to my feeders since the 24th.  - Tom S.

December 2015: Gilbertville, IA Cedar River Milling Feeders: Eurasian Tree Sparrows!  This species is not often seen this far north, so this was a great surprise! Click here to see a picture in the PRAS Flickr photo stream. Notice the black cheek marking--it is distinctive.

October 21, 2015: George Wyth State Park: Looks like we made it out of the Park before the rains set in.  We did stop to observe the seven Wild Turkeys on the way out.  Hope you  got to see them.  Twelve PRAS members attended this mornings birding at George Wyth and Carol Morgan observed a pair of Wood Ducks that can be added to her life list Some of us added a new life trail when we birded the trail west of the beach area.  We sighted 27 species.  Many Juncos and Waxwings were sighted near the Park Rangers Headquarters. No plans have been made for next Wednesday, but watch your email for an impromptu field trip if someone steps forward to lead it. We sighted 89 species over the last eight weeks! Thanks to all who have participated in Wednesday morning birding! Many thanks to Craig and Kris Rash for planning and leading these field trips!

October 16, 2015: Hawkwatch @ Grammer Grove (Marshall County): 3 PRAS members and 8 other birders from Ames, Urbandale, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Liscomb and Dysart, attended Hawkwatch today; Ty Smedes stopped by in the afternoon and shot a few photos of both birds and birders.  Mark Proescholdt of Liscomb, IA has been counting migrating raptors at this location for 26 years and conducts counts throughout Sept-December. Mark reviewed the basic tips for identifying raptors while in flight and pointed out the different reference points we were to use when describing the location of birds, so all could get the birds in their binoculars. 

Sharp-shinned Hawks were the most plentiful raptor observed, but there was a push of birds in mid-afternoon when observers saw three mature Bald Eagles, 2 Red-tailed Hawks and an American Kestrel who were all catching one thermal. Then Mark Proescholdt looked back west and there was an immature Golden Eagle flying relatively low directly over the watch area!  The Golden Eagle soared above us for several minutes, allowing us to see all the field marks perfectly!  Other notable birds of the day include a sizeable covey of Gray Partridge which flew in front of Craig and Francis's car up the road from the Hawkwatch site and 2 dark morph Red-Tailed Hawks (calurus/alascensis)!  Hawkwatch at Grammer Grove continues every weekend (and some weekdays as schedules permit) from September through December. Feel free to join in...you will have a great time. Thanks to Eric Ollie and the Iowa Ornithologists' Union Events Committee for organizing this field trip; and special thanks to Mark Proescholdt for his expertise and leadership in hosting Hawkwatch at this location. Here is a list of the 30 species observed.

October 14, 2015: Prairie Lakes: 14 PRAS members attended our Wednesday morning birding of Prairie Lakes Park in Cedar Falls, Iowa this morning.  We sighted 34 species. The Sedge Wren and Ruddy Duck are species that we do not normally see on our birding trips.  Thanks to Tom Schilke for his skills and understanding of bird identification. Plan on attending our next Wednesday (Oct. 21)  birding field trip.  Meet at 8:30 AM  at the Kiosk just inside the entrance to George Wyth Park.

October 7, 2015: Hickory Hills Park:   Six PRAS members attended our Wednesday morning birding of Hickory Hills Park.  Hope all of you got the opportunity to bird somewhere today.  It was just a great day to be outside.  We sighted 41 birdsNext Wednesday morning plan to attend our field trip to Prairie Lakes at 8:30 am.  -- Craig R.

September 30, 2015: Bruce Plakke and Tom Moon took some interesting pictures while we birded 3.1 miles in the Big Woods area this morning.  Nine PRAS members participated in this mornings activity and observed an Osprey in a tree and capturing a carp in the lake.  Yes...Tom Moon was able to capture the activity with his camera. Pelicans, Sap Suckers and Bluebirds are included in the list of 35 species we sighted below. We, also, had the opportunity to see a mink.

Next Wednesday morning, October 7th,  we plan to bird the Hickory Hills Park. Plan to meet east of Sears in Crossroads Mall parking lot at 8:15 a.m.; we will drive to the Archery parking area at Hickory Hills. We should start our birding adventure around 8:45 a.m. if you want to meet us at the park. Contact at Craig Rash 984-5608 or ckrash105@aol.com 

September 29, 2015: Waterloo backyard birds.  Birds were everywhere I looked this morning as I opened the blinds.  The most ever for my little yard with two trees and a small garden. -- Tom S. Here are the 25 species observed:


Magnolia warbler - 1               R.Br. Grosbeak -2
Palm warbler - 3                     Cardinal 2
Nashville warbler - 2               Golden-Crowned Kinglet -1            
Tennessee Warbler - 1           House Sparrow - 23
Yellow-rumped warbler - 7     Mallard - 2
White-throated sparrow - 2    Cedar Waxwing - 4
Catbird - 1                              Crow - 4
E. phoebe - 1                         Starling - 1
Chickadee - 1                        Blue Jay - 3
N. Flicker - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 1
W. Br. Nuthatch - 1
Swainson’s Thrush - 1
Robin 8
Junco - 2 
House Finch - 2

September 29, 2015: A pair of Sandhill Cranes was observed about 1/2 mile south of the Cedar River Natural Resource Area (where the shooting range is) in a wet meadow west of the Cedar Valley Bike Trail. I had seen this pair two other times this fall and heard their clarion calls one additional time while riding my bike. Ty Smedes told me that sometimes when you observe a single pair of Sandhills hanging around an area, it may be a potential nesting sight for the future. I didn't hear or see these cranes during the actual nesting season in this area, so maybe they are scoping it out for next year. - Candace H.   

September 26, 2015: A walk around Pintail Wetlands in Hardin Co. this afternoon with Francis Moore, Craig and Kris Rash was productive. Some highlights:

Nelson’s Sparrow - 11 mostly in the bull rushes in ankle deep water
LeContes Sparrow - 1
Savannah Sparrow - 1
Bobolinks - 3
Sedge Wren - 2
Marsh Wren - many
Swamp Sparrow - many
Orange Crowned Warbler - new for the site
Yellow-rumped Warbler - new for the site
Cooper’s Hawk
The vegetation has grown tall and thick. Should be good for sparrows the rest of the fall. -- Tom S.
 
September 23, 2015: See the 30 species that were sighted on our Wednesday mourning birding at Martin's Lake this morning.  Six PRAS members attended and had the opportunity to observe a Pileated Woodpecker, Sharp-Shinned Hawk and Cooper's Hawk at the same time as they competed for a site.  Good opportunity to observe both hawks in flight at the same time.   We did observe a Green Heron and many Northern Flickers. Plan on attending our birding trip to Big Woods next Wednesday morning at 8:30 AM and Saturday's (Sept 26) field trip to Hardin County led by Tom Schilke. See the field trips page for more details.

September 19, 2015: While biking along the Cedar Valley Bike Trail not far from Evansdale, a tribe of Wild Turkeys, numbering about 15, crossed in front of me.  Also, heard a Pileated Woodpecker and Sandhill Cranes just a little bit south past the road where the shooting range is located. -- Candace H.

September 16, 2015: The breeze was welcomed in this morning's PRAS birding because is kept the mosquitoes down.  Ten PRAS members enjoyed the nice weather as we birded the Beaver Lake Preserve and Railroad Lake area.  for 2.5 hours.  The American Red Start was the only warbler sighted, but we did see a Turkey and Green Heron.  See the list below for the 30 species sightedPlan on attending our next outing to The Greenbelt (Martin Lake) off Martin Road in Waterloo next Wednesday, Sept. 23rd. -- Scribe, Craig R.

September 10, 2015: Chimney Swift night out! There was a nice crowd (20+ people) to witness 100+ swifts come to roost in the chimneys at the old elementary school. 

September 9, 2015: Wednesday morning birding with PRAS!  See the list of 32 species observed on our Wednesday Morning PRAS birding of the Canfield region of George Wyth State Park this morning.  Nine members birded for 2.5 hours.  Carol Morgan celebrated her birthday with us! -- Scribe, Craig Rash

September 4, 2015: On Thursday evening Sept. 4 from 7:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 195 chimney swifts were seen pouring into the chimney at the old Orange school on Kimball in Waterloo.  Also a recent morning report of two chimney swifts coming out of the newly erected tower at the new Orange Elementary.  I wonder how many we will see during our swift night out on the 10th? - Tom Schilke


September 3, 2015: An Osprey was flying over the pond outside of the library on the Hawkeye Community College. The "W" shaped wings is a give away when identifying this bird in flight.  What a nice way to start the day! - C. Havely

September 2, 2015: 9 individuals braved the heat and humidity to bird Sweet Marsh; click the link to see the 35 species we observed. Two female Northern Harriers, Northern Parula and Green Heron were some of the highlights.  We heard several Soras calling...but as usual, they were not seen. It was a nice evening with good company. Plus, we got to see the new observation platform (which is shaped like an eagle) that is being built at Sweet Marsh.


PRAS members on the new eagle shaped concrete observation platform at Sweet Marsh on September 2, 2015. 



 - Candace H.

August 27, 2015:  
I saw several Nashville warblers on Tuesday morning, Aug. 25th at our land in Allamakee County. They were enjoying finding insects on Ox-eye sunflowers and a brush pile. Hope they are headed your way, south. - Susan L.


August 23, 2015: Hickory Hills south of Waterloo had lots of juvenile birds present, including, Gray Catbird, Eastern Kingbird, Cedar Waxwing, & Wild Turkey.  Migrating warblers are starting to appear with a pair of Canada Warblers being observed. Lots of Red-eyed Vireos and a Scarlet Tanager vocalizing its "chick-burr" call note made for a nice morning of birding. -- Candace H. 

June 14, 2015: Mississippi River Cruise Field Trip: Saw great birds (including the Cerulean Warbler!) and had a great ride on the Mississippi River today! Thanks to Robert of Maiden Voyage Boat Cruises and Jon Stravers, Cerulean Warbler researcher, for a superb birdwatching cruise today. Thank you Dick Lynch for organizing the two boat tours! We had beautiful weather and got to see some backwaters of the Mississippi River that most folks don't get to see. The day started by observing two young Peregrine Falcons and at least one adult perched on the elevator at McGregor near their nest box. It just got better as the morning went...gorgeous Prothonotary Warblers, numerous Bald Eagles (mature and immature), Great Blue Herons and other species of birds presented themselves for great viewing opportunities. The elusive Cerulean Warbler was heard more than it was seen (at one spot we had three birds vocalizing) but some of the guests got great looks at a male Cerulean. The captain of the boat, Robert, got his "life" Cerulean Warbler this morning...when he got the bird in his binoculars he exclaimed, "Awesome!" He admits that birding is becoming "addictive" as he is learning from his friend Jon. We definitely understand! This wonderful outing was experienced by 11 PRAS members, a gal from Davenport and a fellow from Bentonsport, Iowa. Maiden Voyage Boat Cruises does a daily cruise at 2 p.m. Monday-Saturday (weather permitting) out of McGregor; see this beautiful river, learn about its history and enjoy some beautiful wildlife. Here is an updated list of birds seen on the river at and Effigy National Monumnet: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S23909624

May 30, 2015: Mississippi River Cruise Field Trip: Eight PRAS members made the trip to McGregor, May 30th. There were 57 species of birds that were seen or heard on the trip to McGregor and on the boat this morning. We also enjoyed a great lunch at the restaurant and brewery near the boat dock after the cruise. Hope to see many more birders join us on the next boat trip scheduled for June 14 in McGregor. 

See details about this on the "Field Trips" or on the gopras.org home page.
Wood Duck
Hooded Merganser
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lard
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
House Wren
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Cerulean Warbler
American Redstart
Prothonotary Warbler
Ovenbird
Common Yellowthroat
Scarlet Tanager
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Respectfully submitted,
Francis Moore
Scribe Pro-temp

May 30, 2015: While on our way home from birding at Horicon Marsh and Necedah NWR in Wisconsin and biking the Root River Trail in MN we traveled through McGregor, Iowa on Saturday, my sister and I stopped at the elevator to check out the Peregrine Falcon's nest box. We heard the falcon call and take to the air to chase a juvenile Bald Eagle.  The bird made a few more laps and then flew back with a Rock Dove in its talons. The bird perched on a bare branch that is protruding from the rock face across the street from the elevator and we watched it pluck feathers and feed, then it took the rest of the poor Rock Dove up to the nest box. It was pretty cool...If you are ever in McGregor, it is worth taking a look. Just go behind (south) of the elevator (it is right on the railroad tracks) on the east side of town and look way, way up...the nest box is on the right side of the building.  Often one of the adults can be seen sitting on the perch outside of the box. A spotting scope would be good, but if you just have binoculars you will still get good view of this awesome raptor.  Candace H.

May 27, 2015:  Twelve PRAS members including Jim Kenyon's grandchildren, Anna and Ethan Jacobsen, attended our last Wednesday morning  birding for the spring season.  We sighted 33 species as listed below hiking through Cedar Bend County Park.   We sighted 142 species over the last 10 weeks of  Wednesday birding.  Keep reviewing gopras.org for special field trips and look forward to attend one of our fall Wednesday morning  field trips.  We said our goodbyes to Jean  Hall as she readies herself to relocate to  Washington  State to live.  We reminded her that the state  bird of Washington is the American Goldfinch, too.  We are going to miss Jean attending our Wednesday birding and her unending support of nature in the Cedar Valley. We consider Jean a life long friend and plan to stay in touch. Scribe:  Craig Rash

May 25, 2015: Ten PRAS member were led on a field trip birding Black Hawk Point and Pool Slough in Allamakee County on our annual Memorial Day birding trip.  We ended our day traveling to Chuck and Susan LeMaster's  cabin and enjoying a taco soup supper with the Prothonotary Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler  are two of the 62 species listed that were sighted, but I'm sure all would agree the watching the Baltimore Orioles pull the nylon string off of the boat trailer and fly into the woods to build a nest  was the highlight of the day. Sorry you couldn't make the trip, but check gopras.org for a field trip you might wish to participate in. Enjoy birding! Scribe: Craig Rash

May 24, 2015: My sister birded Hickory Hills a bit late Sunday afternoon after getting home from the Spring IOU meeting (which was wonderful!) at Algona.  Not a lot of birds were about, however a Broad-winged Hawk flew into view and perched giving us exceptional looks at this great bird. -- Candace Havely

May 21, 2015:  A singing Hermit Thrush was heard across the street from my new place first thing this morning. Such a lovely way to begin my day.  -- Candace Havely

May 20, 2015: It rained this morning.  Seven of the PRAS members joined  Linda and Joel Haack as they celebrated their 42nd  wedding anniversary with a walk in the rain participating  in a birding adventure along the lower lands of Hartman Reserve.  And rain it did.  Although the lens of our binoculars were often spotted with rain drops, we did sight 38 species.  Good day to practice our listening skills for identification of birds. 
Many species were left in the tops of the trees without being identified, though.  Against the gray sky and the rain they all looked the same to us...LBB. Congratulations to Joel and Linda and keep a log on the fie and enjoy the rest of the day. See you next Wednesday morning  8:15 am at Kwik Trip in Janesville  where will drive to bird Cedar Bend County Park in Waverly. Scribe: Craig    

May 17, 2015: Our screech owl (red morph) that lives in our grove sits in the same tree every afternoon. It has been doing it for a few weeks now and is pretty reliable. I thought that I need to share this with other birders, so please come and see it! I live between Dike and New Hartford, IA on V Ave. It is the gravel road that goes between the two towns. See the email sent out to PRAS members for the specific address and for Anne's phone numbers. If you take 27th street (which is just south of the UNI Dome) out 9 miles to a gravel road and turn left or south, we are the 1st farm on the right-or west on the road. You can see our grove from 27th St. (If you hit a T intersection with a blacktop road, you have gone 1 mile too far.) I am home today and tomorrow afternoon after noon and Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday after 5:30 p.m., then again Friday and Saturday afternoon. -- Anne S.


I thought I would let area birders know about some of the more unusual birds that I encountered in the area over the weekend. Saturday at Sweet Marsh (Bremer Co.) I had 2 olive-sided flycatchers, 1 alder flycatcher, and several willow flycatchers. There was some shorebird habitat in the center of the marsh, but shorebird numbers were not great (least, semipalmated, spotted, and solitary sandpipers, lesser yellowlegs, semipalmated plover). Also, 1 Harris’ sparrow.

"At Hartman Reserve (Cedar Falls) Saturday evening there was a Connecticut warbler. It was located along the southern edge of the prairie in 'lower Hartman.'

"At the Cedar Hills Sand Prairie (northwestern Black Hawk Co.) is a group of several singing Henslow’s sparrows. This year their territories are just southeast of the parking spot along the western boundary of the area. I first heard them from the parking spot. Also in the brush around the tall tree in the center of the property are at least two pairs of Bell’s vireos, also easily heard from a distance. -- Al B.


If you haven't yet been to Pintail Wetlands in Hardin County, look for an opportunity to visit. It's a reclaimed wetland, developed in just the past few years. Here's a report from the birding there over the weekend, from Tom Schilke:
"Pintail Wetlands in Hardin County (on R Ave. north 1.5 miles from D15) is my destination spot for shorebirds and such. From the parking lot or with a 100 yard easy walk, birds can be watched and compared. 14 shorebird species in the strong wind Sunday (most were there on Saturday, too) Some Highlights:
Hudsonian Godwit - great looking male
Black-bellied Plovers - breeding plumage
Wilson’s Phalaropes - many plumages
Short-billed Dowitchers - one was blown off its feet with the bill stuck in the mud - comical
White-rumped and Bairds,etc.
Black Terns
Franklin’s Gulls
Savannah sparrows - singing - common  -- Tom S.


May 13, 2015: Another nice day to go for a walk.  Ten PRAS members birded the Washington Access Trail led by Craig and Kris Rash.  We sighted 52 birds and many wild flowers including the Hoary and Fringed Puccoon in the Oak Savannah.  Thanks to Tom Schilke for his expertise on identifying birds. Plan on attending our next Wednesday outing at Lower level of Harman Wildlife Nature Area. Enjoy birding! Scribe:  Craig  


...I HEARD a Bobwhite, but did not see it. I work in the garden at the Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls. We were standing right on the border between the Hearst garden and the bike path in the UNI preserve. We heard it call twice.
Sorry such a late notice.

Anne S.

May 9, 2015: We walked 20,000 steps or 9 miles on our annual  PRAS field trip to
Sweet Marsh today. Eight members spent 10 hours and sighted 113 species.  Tom Schilke and Francis are still birding after enjoying ice cream in Denver. We sighted Bufflehead, Swainson's Hawk, Willow Flycatcher, Blackpoll Warbler and American Tree Sparrow as new sightings for our weekly sighting chartJust a great day. Thanks to Tom Schilke and Francis Moore for leading this trip. -- Craig Rash

May 8, 2015: From Otter Creek Wildlife:
Snow Goose
Red Head
Hooded Merganser
Sedge Wren
Black Tern
Great Tail Grackle
Rusty Black Bird
White Faced Ibis
Canada Warbler
Least Bittern
-- Tom Stone 
These species have increased our overall tally---Click here to see how many birds PRAS members have collectively seen since Sunday, May 3rd.

May 8, 2015:   It did not rain on us during our PRAS field trip to Hickory Hills led by Tom Schilke this morning.  Six PRAS members attended the birding walk and sighted 46species.  The Grasshopper Sparrow will be a new sighting for our week's Sighting list found on our Web page. Our last field trip for the Bird-A-Thon is tomorrow, Saturday.  If you have been following our bird sightings in gopras.org, then you know that we have sighted over 176 birds so far this week.   Saturday is our BIG Day, hope to hear from all of you soon. --Craig Rash

Saturday, May 9th: International Migratory Bird Day - Sweet Marsh  7:00 am: Meet at the Logan Ave Hy-Vee parking lot located north of Allen Hospital.  We will drive to Sweet Marsh. Come join us as we spend the day counting birds or join up with us at the Panther Lanes or Guppy's Market on 7th Ave. SW around 1:00 pm (after lunch) and bird with us in the afternoon. This is an all day event, but you may join us for any and all time that you want!  We plan to eat lunch in Tripoli but you may want to bring water and snacks if you want sustenance for the day. Contact Francis Moore @ 319-232-0217.

May 7, 2015: Ten PRAS members birded the Lower level region of Hartman Nature Preserve.  Tom Stone led us on a walk that sighted 34 species.  The Cape May Warbler will be an addition to our Bird-A-Thon sighting list for the week. We are near 170 species for the week. Plan on going to Hickory Hills tomorrow. 8:00 am: Meet at the east side of Sears in Crossroads Shopping Mall  center lot. We will car pool and drive to the parking area at west side of Hickory Hills near Archery area and start birding about 8:30 am.  Contact Tom Schilke @ 319-232-8199 for more details. 
Scribe: Craig Rash


May 6, 2015: Our Wednesday morning PRAS field trip to Beaver Lake and Railroad Lake started out with a little mist and overcast skies, but as the morning progressed it became sunny and reached temperatures around 70 degrees.  Good day to go birding and 11 PRAS members attended sighting 47 birds.  American Redstart, American White Pelican and Tennessee Warbler will be new additions to our Bird-A-Thon sightings list. Plan on attending Thursday's field trip to Hartman Preserve led by our resident birder,Tom Stone.  We will meet at 8:00 am at the parking lot for the Hartman Nature Center.  Looking forward to seeing you. Scribe:  Craig and Kris Rash

May 5, 2015: Am I right that this is a summer tanager, immature male? Took this through the window. Never seen at our feeder before today, May 5.-- Sandy F.  I concur with Sandy, this looks like an immature Summer Tanager to me.  



 May 5, 2015: Eight PRAS members had 30 species sighted on this afternoon's field trip.  Eight PRAS member attended and birded Babcock Woods in Waverly. Red-headed Woodpecker, Black-throated Green Warbler and Eastern Towhee were some notable species. Also a Sharp-shinned Hawk will be an addition to the weekly sighting chart we have on gopras.org. -- Craig Rash


May 4, 2015: 88 bird species (12 warbler) between morning and afternoon turkey hunts. Some highlights:

Sac and Fox
Clay -colored sparrows
Blue-winged warblers - 2
La. Waterthrush
E. Kingbird
White Throated. Sparrows - a multitude - by far the most I have ever seen.
Wood Thrush- 3

Hoover/Ruby (56 species)
Am. Bittern - 4
Sora - 8
Pine Siskins - a flock all singing - sounded like the tree had an electrical short
White-rumped sandpipers - 2 (yesterday)

Pintail Wetlands (never disappointed in this place) - looking good for shorebirds again
Long-billed Dowitchers - 14
Wilson's. Phalaropes - 7
Apr. 30th - Upland Sandpiper and 2 Smiths Longspurs - didn’t find them today.

On a side note - an almost all white red-winged blackbird photographed a week ago at Hickory Hills in Tama Co. was seen again Friday. Photos on the gopras.org website. The Luecistic Pileated is still at Hartman Reserve.

Tom Schilke (Excerpted from Iowa Bird listserv from the IOU)


May 4, 2015: Pine Warbler at a Cedar Falls feeder.  Judy S.  


May 4, 2015: Bird-A-Thon Fieldtrip at Greenbelt (Martin) Lake  Eight PRAS members participated on a rainy, gray afternoon field trip and although the birding was kind of slow, we sighted 44 species and we were able to add several species to the Bird-A-Thon total, including singing Wood and Hermit Thrushes, Gray Catbird, Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrow, Blackburnian Warbler (one of the last birds seen right by the parking lot!) Magnolia, and Black and White Warblers, Great-crested Flycatcher, and Gold-crowned Kinglet. -- Candace Havely

May 3, 2015: Bird-A-Thon Fieldtrip at Cedar Valley Nature Trail   Seven PRAS and one birder from Oskaloosa, Iowa participated in our first birding field trip for the 2015 Bird-A-Thon.  Francis Moore led us birding on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail for 2:00 to 5:00 pm  We sighted 45 species.  Monday's field trip starts at 5:00 pm at the Greenbelt lake off Martin Road in Waterloo and is being led by Candace Havely.  See you there.  Scribe: Craig Rash

April 29, 2015: This was a busy day for our Audubon group.  Tom Shilcke was busy with our special needs group and then he and Kris Rash spent the morning birding with West High School students. 18 PRAS members attended the field trip to Greenbelt Lake where we sighted 35 species.  The group was shown the Barred Owl nest box and the tree hollow that the Canada Goose uses to nest in. There were lots of bluebells in the woodlands and a young raccoon finally showed himself in the hollow of a tree. Remember, our Bird-A-Thon field trips start Sunday, May 3rd and continue each day next week.  Plan on attending next Wednesday morning at 8:30 am for our weekly field trip located at Beaver Lake on Union Road. Scribe:  Craig

April 23, 2015: Hooded Warbler seen in Hartman Reserve, Cedar Falls at 10:45 am. Sighting was at the end of a trail leading from River Hills School at top of the steps. 

April 22, 2015:  I had to turn my birdbath heater on this morning because ice had formed   over night and the Purple Finches wanted a drink. Then Kris and I traveled to Big Woods Lake and conducted our Wednesday morning PRAS birding field trip from 8:30 to 11:00 am.  Thirteen PRAS members attended but we Iearned Jim Kenyon  arrived late and wandered around looking for us.  He called Joel Haack and told him he had sighted some neat birds on his trek. Click this link to see the 39 species that were seen, fourteen more than the 25 sighted last year on this week and one more than last week.  Palm Qarbler and Merlin are among the sightings listed below. Thanks for participating and we look forward to next weeks field trip to Green Belt (Martin Lake) meeting at 8:30 am.  Remember to access GOPRAS.ORG for other listed field trips.When we arrived home the Purple Finches were enjoying the birdbath. Scribe: Craig Rash

April 22, 2015: I have seen the bird several times but today was the first time I got a chance for a picture. It can be found around the intersection or East Mount Vernon Road and North Elk Run Road. Also on in the area is a new Eagle nest on East Cedar  Wapsi Road (C-57) about a mile east of North Canfield Road. The last few times I gone by the Eagle was very visible on the nest since the nest is very close to the road. -- Mike





April 17, 2015:  Today's photos are from our backyard--a sapsucker, with two other shots showing how well it's camouflaged against a birch!  Joel H.









April 15, 2015: Sixteen PRAS members participated in this morning's birding at George Wyth State Park.  We birded the Canfield area including Brinker Lake and George Wyth Lake.  Click to see the 38 species observed. Note the Great Egret was sighted on the Cedar River and the flock of Pelicans were flying overhead.  Last year we sighted 16 species on this date. Look forward to next Wednesday's birding at Big Woods Lake in Cedar Falls, Ia.  Be sure to check out GOPRAS.ORG for other field trips planned.
Scribe...Craig and Kris Rash

April 13, 2015: As part of thinking ahead to the Wednesday morning bird walk at Greenbelt Lake (still a few weeks off), Linda and I had the chance to walk there this afternoon.  Saw a Great Horned Owlet in its nest-hole, then, much to our surprise, saw a Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (see photo) as well.  It was the first we'd seen in Iowa.  -  Joel H. 



As of April 11, 2015:  My walk at Greenbelt Lake also yielded a nice view of the Great Horned Owlets. I was there in the late afternoon (nearly five p.m.) and I was pleased to see more migrants who dropped in, along with the usual woodland birds. Here are a few highlights: Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Fox Sparrow, Lincoln Sparrow, Wood Duck, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker and a small raft of six Pied-billed Grebes. Candace H.

As of April 11, 2015: This afternoon my wife and I found the great horned owl nest at the Greenbelt area (with a location hint!). The warm weather had the birds panting.  On our walk out we saw many garter snakes and 1 skink.  More pics and details here: Ladage Photography  -- Kip Ladage








As of April 10, 2015: I was on the water in a camo-covered kayak by 7:00 this morning to beat the wind.  As expected, I saw many birds - trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks, coots, American white pelicans, northern shovelers, mallards, wood duck, double-crested cormorants, greater white-fronted geese, and several northern harriers.  Click this link to see all of the photos: www.LadagePhotography.com. -- Kip Ladage. 




As of April 8, 2015: Eight PRAS members meet at 8:30 -10:00 am this morning and birded Prairie Lakes Park.  We experienced a light mist while sighting 35 species.  We saw many Wilson's Snipes and a Lesser Yellowlegs. Click here to see the species observed.  Look forward to birding next Wednesday in George Wyth State Park.  We will meet at Canfield Parking  area at 8:30 am. Scribe:  Craig Rash

As of April 5, 2015: 21 people enjoyed PRAS's outing to Blackmon Prairie, Pintail Wetlands, Geneva and Eagle City Park to see Pasque Flowers, Snow Trillium (including a trillium that had four petals!) and a wonderful show of waterfowl. A more complete bird list is forthcoming, but highlights included a Horned Grebe (Geneva), Common Merganser, Ruddy Ducks, Greater White Fronted Geese, a lone Snow Goose, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Blue and Green Winged Teal, Northern Harrier, Eastern and Western Meadowlarks and three American White Pelicans. As we approached Pintail Wetlands a great number of birds took flight, flushed by a Bald Eagle hunting. It was fun to see the birds circle and light back down on the wetland, as the Eagle hovered over the water for a moment and then caught its prey. The weather was perfect and it was a splendid way to spend a Sunday afternoon/evening. Thanks to everyone who attended and special thanks to Tom Schilke for organizing the field trip and sharing these sights. --  Here are the ebird lists for species seen: Blackmon Prairie Bird ListQuarry near Geneva, IA Bird List, Pintail Wetlands Bird List Candace H.

As of April 1, 2015: We have 2 things that the photographers might be interested in. We have an active Great Horned Owl nest in our grove. This morning I could see an owl in the scope but there is not much to be seen yet just tufts from time to time. When we get Owlets that can be seen I will write you and anyone who wants can come out and take a look is invited. At the corner of East Mt Vernon Road and North Elk Run Road Sandy and I saw an albino Robin while we were out walking this morning. It flew into the yard on the west side of the road after we watched in a field for a while.

Anyone coming out to try to see the bird be advised that our neighborhood watch is on alert because of house break-ins. You might be approached by one of the neighbors because of this.  -- Mike

As of April 1, 2015: Good Day! Yup. We saw a Snowy Owl this morning...Oh, April fools on you!  We did have a Wednesday morning field trip in the west end of George Wyth State Park, though. Seventeen PRAS members hiked the area between Fisher Lake and Alice Lake from 8:30 to 11:00 am.  We sighted 43 species (last year we saw only 37) including: Canada Goose,Wood Duck,Gadwall, Mallard,Blue-winged teal, Green winged-teal,Northern Shoveler, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Wild Turkey, Pied-billed Grebe,Double-Crested Cormorant,Song Sparrow, American Robin, Hermit Thrush, Brown Creeper, White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, Tree Swallow, American Crow, Blue Jay, Eastern Phoebe, Northern Flicker (yellow shafted), Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, Rock Pigeon, Ring-billed Gull, American Woodcock, Red-Tailed Hawk (Eastern), Bald Eagle, Cooper's Hawk, Turkey Vulture, and Great Blue Heron.  Next Wednesday we will meet at the Cedar Falls Visitor Center at 8:30 am. Check out GOPRAS.ORG for other field trips this month. Scribe...Craig and Kris R.

As of March 30, 2015: Common Loons and Red-breasted Mergansers are among the other waterfowl at Big Woods Lake. Tom S.

As of March 25, 2015:   Seemed like April fools came early this year with  the snow we woke up too.  Looks like we will be burning firewood for another week. Four brave PRAS souls braved the cold weather this morning and birded Alice Lake at George Wyth State Park.  See the list of 26 species that were observed. The gulls were active and a good variety of ducks were observed.  Good sighting for our first field trip. Looking forward to next Wednesday's field trip  where we will  meet at the birding station parking lot at George Wyth State Park at 8:30 a.m. Hopefully, we will see a Turkey Vulture. Check out GOPRAS.ORG for other planned field trips this Spring. Scribes:  Craig and Kris R.  

As of March 17, 2015: Three of us saw the leucistic Pileated Woodpecker tonight at Hartman Reserve at about 6:40 p.m.  It gave us good long looks as it landed on its roosting tree and dallied for a moment or two before diving into the roost hole.  Afterwards, two of us went to Greenbelt Lake and could barely see the Great Horned Owl hunkered down in her nest.  Hoping that the owlets might start making an appearance soon. -- Candace H.

As of March 16, 2015: The woodcock at Cedar Hills Sand Prairie are actively doing their mating routine.  On March 16th beginning about 7:25 p.m. 8 individuals were heard and seen doing their sky dance. -- Tom S.


As of March 13, 2015: Two small flocks of Greater White Fronted Geese were flying over the Cedar Valley Nature Trail as I biked for the first time this spring.  Sometimes these geese sound like a bunch of yappy little dogs. LOL!  Much different from the call of Canada Geese--there call is more like Snow Geese. -- Candace H.

As of March 12, 2015: 25 PRAS members attended the field trip to see the leucistic Pileated Woodpecker at Hartman Reserve.  Viewing is best shortly before dusk (anywhere between 5:45 p.m. to 6:15 or 6:30 p.m.  Park at the north end of the parking lot at  River Hills School located at 2700 Grand Boulevard. Wear your boots as it may be muddy. Walk a very short way down the trail. Look to the west for a tree with a roost hole on the east side, watch in this general area as there is a roost hole to the north that the bird dives into. Listen for its calls as it is very vocal.  

As of February 21, 2015: An adult Great Horned Owl was observed in the general vicinity of the dead tree in which they nest at Greenbelt Lake. -- Candace H.

As of February 16, 2015: Thanks to my guide, Tom Schilke, & Mother Nature, a dream came true. I finally got to see a saw-whet owl up close at George Wyth. I have heard saw-whets several times at our land in the hills of Allamakee County. This was the first time I saw one in the daylight. We were not successful in finding the saw-whet near Gilbertville. Feb. 16th. -- Sue L., Charles City,IA 

As of February 15, 2015: A month or so ago I spotted what I hoped was a Bald Eagle nest in a tree north of Greyhound Park in Waterloo and made a mental note to check it out when I wasn't flying down the highway.  Today, we took the time to go over and get a closer look.  It sits directly south of the Mauer Eye Center on Ridgeway - there is an unfinished surface street behind that office building that dead ends into a good spot to park for viewing.  When we were pulling in there we could tell there was activity around the nest, birds landing in the tree.  By the time we got settled and our binoculars out, we could see the two eagles quite clearly in their nest. -- Amy D.

As of February 9, 2015: There is an active Bald Eagle nest in Cedar Falls located along the river to 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. -- Mark F.

As of January 23, 2015: As of Jan. 23, a Saw whet owl is near the parking lot for the Cedar Natural Area off the bike trail south of Gilbertville.  Some flocks of American Tree Sparrows, too.  Tom S. 


As of January 19, 2015: PRAS's MLK Day Fieldtrip: A group of 19 explored Hardin County today on our annual MLK day field trip. Some Highlights:

Calkins Nature center:
Purple Finch - 2 female
Barred Owl
Cedar Waxwings

Pintail Wetlands:
Rough-legged Hawk - the 123rd bird species for this site
Bald Eagle - 2

Headquarters Segment:
Pine Siskin- 20 - on alder trees near storage sheds
Common Redpoll - 3

Pine Lake State Park:
Red-headed Woodpeckers - 4 on hogsback
Ring-necked Duck - 1 - on open water on Lower Pine Lake
Shoveler Duck - 2
Pileated Woodpecker
Tom S.

As of December 20, 2015: Black Hawk County Christmas Count: Eighteen birders participated in the Christmas County today, including one birder from Monterey, California! I believe 57 species were observed today (Francis, correct me if I am wrong). Here are some highlights: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Near the building at the Waterloo Memorial Park Cemetery off of West 4th Street), Cackling Goose, Ring-necked Pheasant, Meadowlark, Trumpeter Swan, American Wigeon, Canvasback, Ruddy Duck, Red-shouldered Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Song Sparrow, Tufted Titmouse, Common Grackle, and Pileated Woodpecker, including the leucistic Pileated at Hartman Reserve. A wonderful potluck was enjoyed at the Cedar Falls Visitor Center Saturday evening and the totals for both today's Black Hawk County count and the Bremer count were tallied.  A good time was had by all! We encourage anyone who would like to join in the Buchanan County or Hardin County Christmas counts to join us. See the Field Trips page for more details! -- Candace H. 

As of December 14, 2014: Bremer County Christmas Count: Six PRAS members drove the foggy roads in Bremer County to complete the count today. Among the regular species you may expect to find, here are some highlights: Several Rough-legged Hawks, a Northern Harrier, a Merlin, Wild Turkey, Eurasian Collared Doves (at the grainery in Readlyn), at least nine Bald Eagles and two Pileated Woodpeckers.  

As of November 29, 2014: 
Two pileated woodpeckers were seen at 4:15 p.m. , one of which entered a roost hole, 130 paces north of River Hills school in Hartman Reserve.  At 4:35 p.m. the whitish luecistic pileated wood pecker showed up and entered a roost hole 50 yards north of River Hills School. These woodpeckers have been showing up at nearly the same time near dusk nearly every day. --Tom S. 

Hello... fellow PRAS members! This is Steve and Jolene B. (the California transplants).  We were at Hartman today and were fortunate enough to see the Ivory Pileated Woodpecker for over 30 minutes. It was crazy how long we watched it. I even took a selfie with it.  We were able to get within 10 feet of it, although unfortunately we only had a cell phone for pics. We saw it pecking away at a tree on the Willow Trail in the valley just below the Nature Center. Here are some of the pics. Enjoy! -Steve and Jolene B.  

See these two photos and a few others on the PRAS Flickr account.  Plus download the short video that Steve and Jolene took by clicking here





As of November 15, 2014: Here is a list of the 45 species seen on the Saturday field trip (Nov. 15, 2014) to the upper Mississippi River: Field trippers were Ann S., Tom S., Francis M., joining us along the Mississippi were Bernice F. and Gary B.


Canada Goose

Tundra Swan

Wood Duck

Gadwall

American Black Duck

Mallard

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback

Ring-necked Duck

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser

Rudy Duck

Wild Turkey

Pied-billed Grebe

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel

American Coot

Sandhill Crane

Killdeer

Wilson’s Snipe

Ring-billed Gull

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Blue Jay

American Crow

Black-capped Chickadee

American Robin

European Starling

American Tree Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird

House Sparrow

As of October 9, 2014: Eight birders met at the Cedar Falls Visitor Center to walk around Prairie Lakes for birds and exercise.  Beautiful morning.  Our group had about 28 species including Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Y.B. Sapsucker, both Ruby Crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets,  Greater Yellowlegs, Marsh Wren, and Swamp Sparrows. --Tom S.

As of October 1, 2014: We did go birding this morning.  We experienced a little rain and then the sun burned through and we were able to bird the railroad region of the Beaver Valley Wetlands area.  Four of us sighted 26 species.  Note the Wilson's Snipe and the Green Heron. No plans for next Wednesday at this time.  If someone would like to volunteer to lead a field trip, just send Dick the time and place to meet.  He will contact PRAS members via email.  It is just that simple. Watch your e mail next Tuesday...Thanks for coming.--Craig and Kris R.

As of September 30, 2014: Today I was enjoying the birds in my back yard when a yellow-shafted flicker flew up to my bird bath.  Then I noticed another bird in the bushes by a couple of my feeders.  I immediately knew this was a bird that had not visited my backyard before.  It was cardinal size, olive yellow on the back and head with a brighter yellow on the belly and breast.  The wings were solid black with no markings.  Was it a scarlet tanager?  My first thought was a female scarlet tanager, but after checking Sibley's ID book I came to the conclusion it was a male scarlet tanager in fall plumage.  Sightings like this make birding fun!  Dick L.

I've had several immature bluebirds at the bird bath the last two days. --C.B.

As of September 27, 2014: Ten PRAS members led by Tom Schilke birded the Canfield region of George Wyth Park this morning.  We sighted 45 species. Tom Stone Jr. met me at the parking lot as we were leaving and identified the Winter Wren and Cerulean Warblers to be added to the list. Scribe: Craig R.


As of September 26, 2014: Along with the usual birds at my feeder, I saw a brown thrasher a few days ago.  A brown thrasher is not one of my daily birds so I was pleased to observe this striking bird.  I normally see one once or twice a year and usually only a fleeting moment.  This brown thrasher brought a partner so my pleasure was doubled.  The two have been on and around my feeders for the last few days.  Hope they continue to stay a few more days. -- Dick L.


As of September 24, 2014:   Ten PRAS members were led by Craig and Kris Rash on a walk through the Babcock Woods and Prairie this morning.  During our two hour walk we sighted 16 species as listed below and Susan LeMaster may have sighted an Eastern Towhee.  We were able to see the bird feeding station that is set up in the woods at the West entrance.  Marge Shaffer had attended the bird feeders the evening before.   For many this was their first visit. Just a variety of habitat and abundance of large trees to see. Pick a sunny day and visit these woods. 


Next Wednesday, 01 October, we plan to visit Beaver Valley Wetlands along Union Road.  Park at the lot near the Beaver Valley Wetland and plan to  tour the dike and move to Railroad Lake just to the East.  If time permits we may trek up north on Union road  to Turkey Ridge. We will meet at 8:30 am.  See you next Wednesday.
Scribe: Craig Rash

As of September 22, 2014: Great morning to try the Canfield Loop at George Wyth Park in Waterloo.  Slow at first - picked up quite a bit between 9:30 and 10:30. Some
highlights:
Black-throated Blue Warbler - nice male
Orange-crowned
Ovenbird
Nashville
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Winter Wren
Sedge Wren and House Wren having 'words'
Philadelphia Vireos
White-throated Sparrows
Caspian Tern
Pileated Woodpecker
Etc. etc.

I park in the Canfield lot and follow the concrete bike trail south and walk along the river until the trail intersection. A dirt easement road joins the trail. I like this road. It winds back through good habitat, has lots of puddles, and is removed from the fast paced trail traffic. This road horseshoes back and comes out at a red gate by Brinker Lake. I walk the paved road north and hop on the dike over looking the lake and follow it back. Nice hike any time of year. --Tom S.



As of September 17, 2014: I was with a friend who lives on Weiden Road and her property is on a bit of a lake or back water. She is familiar with the birds around her area and told me that she had a "white blue heron" last year and she was trying to figure out if it was albino or what. Basically, she said it looked like a 'white heron', with accents of the 'blue-grey' color.  Attached is a photo that she took of it.  Please let me know if you believe it to be a blue heron that is 'different' or if you believe it is something else. Thanks!--Cindy L.

On Wednesday, Sept. 17th from 7:15 - 7:35 p.m. I observed 175 chimney swifts pouring into the big chimney to roost at the old Orange School building on Kimball Road south of Waterloo.  The best viewing is on the west side of the building from the old playground.   Tom S.

As of September 14, 2014: I birded Greenbelt Lake this morning and found a Marsh Wren, lots of American Redstarts and an abundance of Black and White Warblers.  Other warblers seen included: Nashville, Blue-Winged, Chestnut-sided, Canada, and Magnolia. I ran into two other PRAS members while walking to the parking lot; one spotted a Black-throated Green Warbler while we were talking and we all saw a Scarlet Tanager. --Candace H.  

As of September 13, 2014: We continued with the follow up to our PRAS September meeting and toured Becky's Fen south of Fayette, Iowa. Twenty-three members attended and I'm sure enjoyed our visit.  We were greeted by 15 Gray Partridge as we entered the Fen and sighted Turkey Vulture, Barn Swallow, Cedar Waxwing, Song Sparrow and Goldfinch species while we experienced the hydraulic effect of the sub soil and various flowers and grasses including, Grass-of-Parnassus, Gentians (Bottle, Fringed,Stiff), Riddell's Goldenrod, Nodding Ladies' Tresses, Swamp Lousewort, Big Blue Stem and many other vegetative species.  We thanked Becky Kauten for the Fen tour and went on to Boike's Trailside Inn in Fayette for lunch.

In the afternoon nine PRAS members took advantage of the nice weather and birded the Upper Iowa Trail in the Volga Lake Territory led by Francis Moore.  Click here to see the additional 12 species seen in our three hour walk.  We, also, visited the old steel bridge on the Volga River and toured Lima Cemetery.  We drove home listening to the Iowa-Iowa State football game.  Just another  great PRAS adventure. That evening Kris and I went for a short walk near our home and 87 Pelicans flew  over us.  Just a great day.
Look forward to seeing you at our next trip  meeting at 8 a.m. at the George Wyth Park Bird Blind and being led by Tom Stone on 18 September.
Scribes:  Craig and Kris R.

As of September 5, 2014: 
We saw a flock of white pelicans fly over today about noon near Black Hawk Park, the pelicans were flying south. -- Cindy & Dave L.

As of September 4, 2014: 
An adult Golden Eagle was spotted by Tom S. senior flying over Cedar Falls. -- Excerpted from Surfbirds--Iowa Birds.

PRAS conducted its first fall field trip today, Sept. 4th.  Tom Stone led 11 PRAS members on a walk through the bird blind area of George Wyth Park.  We sighted 24 species including the Olive-sided Flycatcher. We took the time to view the bird feeding stations that have recently undergone repair. Tom gave credit to many community members, including PRAS, involved in the ongoing support of this feeding site and especially noted the work that Bill Koch has done to repair the individual feeding stations.  Please take the time to stop by and see for yourself the improvements made this summer.  We observed a Great Blue Heron and an Osprey on the way out of the park. Click here to see complete list of species seen. The next PRAS field  trip is scheduled to meet at 8:45 a.m. at the Kwik Trip in Denver, Iowa, where we will journey to Becky's Fen near Fayette, Iowa on  Saturday, September 13th.  See you there.
--Scribe, Craig R.

As of July 31, 2014: Four PRAS members enjoyed leisurely biking and birding on the Cedar Valley Trail field trip this evening. While we missed hearing the Bell's Vireo, one was observed on the trail going north towards Evansdale. Also, Scott G. had the spot of the day when he found a Green Heron hunched on some tree roots camoflauged by willow trees.  Once the rest of us finally found the bird in our binocs we watched him for a while. Gorgeous bird! A flock of Wood Ducks, Great Blue Herons, American Goldfinch and the regular woodland birds were observed. David V. spied a Solitary Sandpiper not a mile south from the Gilbertville depot; the bird was foraging in the mud on the east side of the trail where the cows are usually seen. The Wood Thrush were singing and the leucistic bird that Candace H. observed earlier this summer was seen and identified...it is an Indigo Bunting! While the bird looks stark white to the naked eye, through binocs one sees the bird is dappled with splotches of blue but has at least one wing that is totally white.  I was so glad that others finally saw this bird! Tom S. made the ID; the bird was observed singing an Indigo Bunting song as well. Again, this leucistic bird is about 1.5-2 miles south of Gilbertville as you are riding towards La Porte City. You will pass the trail marker 7464H; when you come to the clearing the bird can be seen moving between the trees on the west to the east side of the trail. It seems to like that open area (as Indigo's often do); so look the length of that clearing if you don't see it at first; sometimes it is found closer to the north end of that clearing, tonight it was on the south end of that open area. We wrapped up our biking/birding about 8:30 p.m.---it was a gorgeous night and if you kept moving the mosquitos weren't bad.  We also tallied 12.7 miles...not bad...not bad at all! :-)   Candace H. 

As of July 13, 2014: Three inquisitive coyote pups were on the Cedar Valley bike trail near the golf course east of LaPorte City this morning. When they noticed me they scampered off the trail into a corn field. My avian sightings included a lot of Grey Catbirds, a gorgeous male Indigo Bunting and a pure white bird the size of a goldfinch or sparrow. This bird looked similar to the leucistic White-throated Sparrow that another PRAS member observed this May.  This white bird was on the edge of the tall trees right before you get to marker 7464H as you ride towards Gilbertville. Has anyone else seen this bird? The Wood Thrushes were singing right outside of La Porte City...lovely song to accompany a great bike ride. -- Candace H. 

As of July 2, 2014: 
Along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail south of Gilbertville there were numerous Wood Thrush singing their sweet melody, plus one Belted Kingfisher and some Grey Catbirds. Of course Robins and Northern Cardinals were also about. But my most interesting sighting was a mink! The cool air and gray sky seemed to make the flowering Elderberry bushes along the bike trail release their heady scent. The sights, sounds and smells of nature made for a most enjoyable bike ride! -- Candace H.
   
As of June 28, 2014:
I have been following a nest of Bluebirds since early May.  It seems like this couple fledged 4 the second week in May and now have moved to another attached nest box and have 5 eggs in there.  I think it is the same pair because the fledged young hang out with the parents near this site? Question....Is this common with Bluebirds? --  Bill S.
















As of June 25, 2014: Wednesday Leon Lindley led 13 PRAS members birding at McFarlane County Park.  We met at 5:30 pm and birded for 2 hours and then enjoyed a potluck dinner.  We sighted 39 species including an Orchard Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Scarlet Tanager and Wood Thrush.  Click here for the complete list of speciesA Eastern Bluebird was perched on the Chimney Swift tower that PRAS sponsored.  Leon, also, pointed out some other interesting things in the ponds.  Arrowheads were growing in abundance and pickerel weeds were putting up spikes of purple blossoms.  Cricket, Green and Eastern Gray Tree Frogs were all calling.  Some of the members were present for the release of young turtles back to the wild that Leon had been keeping.  I believe Francis Moore is setting up a field trip for July, so keep looking at gopras.org for more information. It did not rain and a good time was had by all.
Scribe: Craig  Rash


As of June 9, 2014: 
At the bio-blitz on the hopeful  Brock addition to Hickory Hills Park an Acadian Flycatcher was singing on the NW end.  On the way home at least two Gray Partridge were on the county highway a mile or two into Black Hawk County. 
--Tom S.

As of June 4, 2014:
I was greeted by an Osprey hovering over the small pond outside the library at Hawkeye CC in Waterloo when I went to work this morning! This is the 2nd time I have spotted one over this small body of water. Mother Nature must have known I needed a bird sighting to start my first day back to work after having been birding in northern Minnesota for the last week! 
--Candace H.

As of June 3, 2014:
Saw a Peregrine Falcon perched near its nest box at McGregor, Iowa on Wednesday, June 3rd. P.S.: I think that Mary's handsome young hawk is a Red-tailed Hawk. I will leave it to the real birding experts of our PRAS group to correct me if I am wrong! 
--Candace H.

As of June 1, 2014:
Here is a photo of a visitor to our Cedar Falls condo last night. It was sitting on the ground crying. After we moved out of sight he flew off after several insecure attempts. Can anyone tell me what kind of hawk it is? 
-- Mary B. 





As of May 28, 2014:
Eleven PRAS members participated in our weekly birding of Hartman Nature area this morning.  We sighted 26 species listed below and thousands of mosquitoes.  This is the last scheduled weekly Wednesday walk. I believe the warblers have moved on. We did not see a warbler this morning and were able to not get rained on. Members will need to read the field trips prompt in gopras.org for future trips. I determined from the bird lists of the five Wednesday walks this month that we observed 149 species.  Something to build on for next year. Thanks to all for your participation.  -- Scribes:  Craig and Kris R.


As of May 26, 2014:
Monday was our annual field trip to Allamakee County. There, ten PRAS members were led by Francis Moore and Tom Schilke as we birded Yellow River Forest, Foley Meadow and Effigy Mounds National Monument. We sighted sixty six species total; see links below for the ebird listing of species for each site. (Ebird list for Effigy is forthcoming). We enjoyed many birding moments throughout the day.  Not only did we observe the Prothonotary Warbler, but were able to locate the cavity that it was nesting in.  The Prothonotary is the only warbler that nests in a cavity according to a book on nesting warblers we have. What a find! Tom and Francis located the Henslow's Sparrow while we were at Foley's Meadow and yes, we did locate a Cerulean Warbler, but that story remains for Tom and Francis to tell.  Only they can do it justice!  See pictures of the Cerulean and Prothonotary Warblers and a water dwelling mammal in the PRAS Photo Slideshow. Many of us enjoyed sighting a new life time bird and look forward to telling you all about it. We enjoyed good weather, lunch and look forward to the next field trip to The Yellow River Forest.  Hope all of you add this experience to your bucket list.--  The scribes:  Craig and Kris R.
Yellow River Forest-Paint Creek Unit Observations
Foley Meadow (Allamakee County) Observations
Effigy Mounds Observations


As of May 24, 2014:
Five PRAS members were led by Francis Moore on our annual Memorial Weekend birding at Hayden Prairies, Crossman Prairie, and Cardinal Marsh on Saturday, May 24th. 57 bird species were seen; see links to bird lists below. In addition to birds, we saw Leopard Frogs, Tree Frogs, Copes Frogs, Eastern Gray Frogs, American Toads, water snakes and many wildflowers and some Morel mushrooms! We had another good time enjoying nature and the great weather of the day.
Hayden Prairie Observations
Cardinal Marsh Observations
-Craig R.

As of May 22, 2014:
Near the small city park at the corner of West 4th Street and Shaulis in Waterloo, there was a meadowlark sitting on top of a utility pole singing what sounded more akin to the Western Meadowlark's song, rather than an Eastern Meadowlark's. It was lovely...hearing what closely sounded like my favorite birdsong from my childhood in the state of Wyoming was the highlight of an evening walk that was already nicely punctuated by a cool breeze carrying the perfume of lilacs and lily of the valley.  Spring in Iowa! 
--Candace H.

As of May 21, 2014:
Click to see the list of 30 species four observers saw at Turkey Ridge Park at the PRAS field trip today.  Thanks Kris and Craig for leading this field trip! Notable birds include a Red-headed Woodpecker, Dickcissel, and Magnolia Warbler.

As of May 16, 2014:
This morning I had a pair of American Redstarts in my backyard. Also 4 male goldfinches & 2 females. On Monday I saw a Chestnut sided warbler. There's always something exciting around Nashua. 
--Mary
Besides the usual suspects, on Friday (5/16) saw an American Redstart and Myrtle warbler.
--Brock


As of May 14, 2014:
12-18 Bobolinks seen Tuesday, May 12 in the 200 block of Mount Vernon Road in Black Hawk County.  The same (or different) flock seen May 13 in the 7000 block of Streeter Road in Black Hawk County.  American Bittern seen May 14. by Bob B.

11 individuals joined the PRAS field trip to Greenbelt Lake today and were rewarded with great views of many species of birds, including notable warblers: Cape May, Northern Parula, Blackburnian, Magnolia, Yellow, Wilson, Black & White and a late Palm Warbler.  Wood Thrushes were singing their melodious song but weren't seen, but interestingly enough, the Swainson Thrushes were seen but not heard. Louisiana Waterthrushes and Least Flycatchers were abundant, and a Sora was observed very briefly before it vanished into the vegetation. 67 total species were tallied. A link to the e-bird list detailing all the species seen today will be forthcoming. I must sadly report though that the Prairie Warbler that had been seen earlier this month by our young birding phenom was not seen, but still it was a GREAT day! A lovely, albeit chilly May morning, great fellowship and some pretty obliging birds. 
--Candace H.

I got two life warblers today--finally!  Tom S. spotted a Cape May Warbler at Greenbelt Lake and we got excellent looks at this bird.  Then after work I went to George Wyth and the 2nd bird I saw was a Bay-breasted Warbler not hardly 30 feet from the parking lot.  Gorgeous birds! Both species have eluded me in the recent past, but today I saw both of them! Now, my new target life birds are: Connecticut Warbler (I was not successful in finding it at Wyth today) and a Black-throated Blue. Wish me luck! 
--Candace H.  


As of May 13, 2014:
[A] Towhee (Eastern?) was hopping beneath our feeder last week.  We also had a female goldfinch eating on our feeder with no thistle or finch food in it. Also I just spotted a Downy woodpecker in our tree. This morning I had a brown cowbird-sized bird with a very yellow beak. I can't find it in either of my bird books or online. Wish I'd gotten a picture!
Mary B

We had a summer tanager at our pond. Our neighbor, who is an expert birder, had him too. There have been 3 other reports of one in the southern third of Wisconsin. Also we had a fabulous hike on Saturday for the Spring Migration Day. We saw many cool migrants including a Cerulean warbler which Michael and I had never seen.
--Michael and Joanne 

As of May 11, 2014: 
Eight PRAS members were led by Francis Moore on a nine hour birding of Sweet Marsh May 10, 2014. We sighted 101 species including the Orchard Oriole Francis sighted at home this morning. If my calculations are correct, Wednesday, May 7th's birding combined with Saturday's count would be 143 total species. Regardless, we had a good time and added birds to our life list. What a great day of birding. Here is the list of species observed during this field trip. 
--Kris and Craig R.

As of May 7, 2014: 
We had an Orchard Oriole sharing some suet May 6 with a pair of brown thrashers that appear to be nesting nearby.  I saw a pair of American Redstarts in northern Bremer county on May 6.  The little rascals don’t sit long enough for pictures.  I will try again for pics next week.  
--Bob B.

On the first check of the feeders this morning I found an Orchard Oriole and a Baltimore Oriole eyeing the jelly. We also had a Harris Sparrow and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. We have had a humming bird off and on.
--Mike J.

We have been seeing a great influx of birds this week at Fontana and other County Parks.  Some notables and FOYs the last few days: Baltimore orioles, catbirds, house wrens, magnolia warblers, LOTS of palm warblers, orange-crowned warblers, northern waterthrush, ovenbirds, hummingbirds, rose-breasted grosbeaks, ospreys, green heron, black and white warblers, and more. 

I have been posting some of the sightings on the Fontana Park Facebook page, and you can feel free to invite friends to “like” us on Facebook.
--Dan Cohen, Executive Director   Buchanan County Conservation Board    www.buchanancountyparks.com

2 orioles yesterday, 8 this AM in our yard.
2 gold finches, and then 2 more
one male hummingbird yesterday late afternoon
--Linda

What a fun time to be a birder!  We have had palm warblers for the last five days and black& whites, RBGB, indigo buntings, orchard orioles, white crowned sparrow since Sunday in Charles City. I saw a black- crowned night heron male in the backwaters of the Cedar on Monday the 5th. Five great egrets were there on Friday the 2nd.  
--Susan L., Charles City
This morning at George Wyth State Park in Waterloo during our Wed. PRAS morning birding for beginners walk - mostly on a loop around the bird blind - the birding was some of the best we have had. Close to 90 species for the group of 13 birders. 17 warbler species including several golden-winged. Concentrations were in tops of trees just beginning to leaf out and flower. Some highlights:

Surf Scoters - 3 in a group on the main lake
Golden-crowned kinglet
Forster's Terns
Franklin's Gull
Blue-winged Warbler
Clay - colored Sparrows
Horned Grebe
Red-shouldered Hawk - eggs hatched we think
Good numbers of many birds -great to be out

--Tom S., Waterloo

Wonder if there is an oriole irruption going on as we have had almost 3x as many as usual and a friend has had a lot more than usual also.  This morning we had a scarlet tanager and a catbird in the yard.  Think the wren is around by the sound of it, but haven't confirmed that with actually seeing it.  Also, I think I have a palm warbler, not commonly found here, hanging around as well.  Any others in the club seeing a palm warbler, or have seen them before locally?
--Susan W., rural Fairbank

Wrens are definitely here  -- scolding from the apple trees.
--Darryl T., Cedar Heights neighborhood, Cedar Falls

We had three orioles (male), and a male rose-breasted grosbeak show up yesterday (Monday). A catbird woke me up this morning as he plucked bugs off the window screen. White-throated sparrows are beginning to dwindle.    
--Brock, near Hartman Reserve, Cedar Falls

As I look out our window I see the following:  The orioles are here and happy at their feeder of grape jelly.  Also have two hummingbirds at their feeder. We have four rose-breasted grosbeaks eating sunflower seeds out of the big flat open feeder and NOT letting any other birds get close to it. In the past we've only seen one or two grosbeaks behind our house at one time.
--Bill H.

The hummers showed up 3 or 4 days ago.  Also grosbeaks, no orioles yet.   
--Dorothy, Sumner

Michael and Laura had an interesting day Saturday at the Sand Prairie.  We flushed an American bittern from the south wetland.  Also, it seems like the Soras are finally returning after the cherry thicket was removed from the wetland edge.  Kestrels have also become a more regular presence there than anytime I recall.  Egret yesterday and finally my 1st Fox Snake of the season. Twice now I have seen a Peregrine Falcon in the vicinity.  Once flying directly over the sand prairie and then a week later on Beaver Valley Road over a field just east of the prairie.  Is it weird that neo-tropicals are arriving before the tree leaf out?  
--Scott H.

We saw several palm warblers out at George Wyth (fisher lake) on Sunday. Last night we think we saw Nashville Warblers on bike trail at Hartman, but they were up so high, we aren't positive. Also last night, we had 2 male rose breasted grosbeaks at the feeder/birdbath. Still waiting on the orioles to come to the feeder. Hopefully today.
--Judy S.

Saw palm yesterday and a blue winged warbler (pretty cool). No tanager but lots of rose-breasted grosbeak. Happy birding!
-- Angi R. 

Karen and I saw a scarlet tanager at Hartman about 1 p.m. today.
--Bill W.

We had three rose-breasted grosbeaks yesterday at our feeders. Today two have returned. The house wren has set up shop in our wren house, and we have a wonderful cardinal who speaks Spanish; he says "Burrito, Burrito, Burrito!"  I'm still waiting for the orioles.
--Mary M.

We have orioles as of yesterday in Southwest Wisconsin and our first tanager today.  RBGBs (Red Breasted Grosbeaks) came over the weekend.  We have lots of them!  Orioles are all over!  Grape jelly and oranges are out. Someone in Eastman saw a humming bird this morning so we have those feeders out as well but we have not seen one.  We have heard the catbird but haven't seen them.  I have heard a wren as well.  Yeah for spring!!!!  Finally....  Enjoy!!!
--Joanne W.