Fontana Nature Center Winter Exhibits
The clever staff at Fontana Nature Center in Buchanan County have crafted a fun activity for these cold winter days. Read more details here and find your favorite birds fashioned in unique snowflake cutouts.

This winter on the Fontana Interpretive Nature Center display floor is an exhibit on Iowa Threatened and endangered species – “Saving all the Pieces.” This exhibit includes taxidermic mounts of some of Iowa’s rarer species with profiles on each including information on how individuals can help. All individual specimens for the display came from illegally harvested animals confiscated or from sources where the animal was obtained before being listed as threatened or endangered. You can literally “get a feel” for these animals as you can touch pelts of some that are included.
Congrats Cedar Falls...Iowa's newest Bird Friendly City!
We recently learned the good news that Cedar Falls has been named Iowa's seventh bird friendly community. Congratulations and thanks to the North Cedar Neighborhood Association for spearheading and doing the legwork for this endeavor. PRAS member Lorene Wellnitz reports that, upon learning of the approval of the bird friendly status for Cedar Falls, Mayor Rob Green responded, "Well, that's a feather in our cap!" The date for the official celebration with the city council has not yet been set.

It's 2021...Finally!
What was your first bird observation of 2021?
Did you take a hike on New Year's Day?
Have you had any winter finches visiting your feeders?

It's a new year and that means it is time to join or renew your membership in PRAS. Your participation and support is important to us and allows PRAS to make a difference by supporting education, conservation and bird friendly projects.

Christmas Bird Count Results
Thanks to all who participated in our socially distanced 2020 CBC. Click here to see the results for both the Bremer County and Waterloo/Cedar Falls counts. We are looking forward to birding opportunities for 2021. Want to see the results of other citizen science bird surveys? Purchase your copy of the newly released Iowa Breeding Bird Atlas II. Several PRAS members have participated in these important field surveys and the population data gathered helps to inform conservation decisions in our state.

In the Sky: January 2021
Of special interest will be the passing of bright, reddish, unmistakable Mars under the constellation Aries (the Ram).  You should be able to follow the motion of Mars and learn the constellation with quick looks on several dark nights.

With reflection on the past year -
“Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”
     - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Flex Your Mussels, Spread Your Wings
By Jared McGovern, National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Watch recording - presentation starts around the 8:25 minute mark

We flex our mussels and spread our wings to soar when engaging students, and our community in hopeful conservation messaging.  We provide students and educators the opportunity to work with endangered mussels and nurture the tools necessary to become future leaders in conservation. Through freshwater mussels, and soon through monarch butterflies we are engaging people in the culture, conservation, history and connectivity between our lands and waters.  
Join us and discover how students are partaking in projects aimed at saving animals from extinction, and how we are introducing students to the role zoos and aquariums play in a much larger conservation effort.

Jared McGovern is a Peosta, Iowa native, Iowa State and Clarke University alumnus, casual RAGBRAI participant, a husband, father, and River Steward.  Jared’s passions and career align around conservation and outdoor education. He is a firm believer in the power people have to make great positive change in the world.  He loves to putz in his yard (a super diverse yard managed for wildlife) and play in the woods and on the water.  As the Curator of Conservation Programs at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, it is his mission to inspire stewardship (conservation action) by creating robust and fun educational, advocacy, and engagement experiences for those who call the Tristate area of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois their home.   

Part aquarium, part museum, and part science center, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium inspires stewardship by creating educational experiences where history and rivers come alive. Receiving visitors from all 50 states and nearly 70 countries annually, the River Museum preserves and interprets the rich history, culture, and ecology of the Mississippi River and Dubuque County. Additionally, the institution is nationally recognized for its participation in working to save endangered species, such as corals, mussels, Wyoming Toads, and more.

For additional information, read this short article about how the city of Waterloo made an effort to preserve freshwater mussels by slowly deflating the dam this fall.

Cerulean Warbler Populations Steady in NE Iowa
PRAS has supported Jon Straver's research of Cerulean Warlers in NE Iowa and it is gratifying to see that populations of these birds are steady! Click the link above to read more details. 

George Wyth Northern Saw-Whet Owl
PRAS Board Member Tom Stone showed new members this owl.  Photo by Mark Dutton

Bricks for Birds - Hartman Reserve
A campaign is underway to raise funds to install a paved walkway through a renovated bird feeding station area and a new pollinator garden at the Hartman Reserve Nature Center. See how you can help support this important project that seeks to edify and enhance everyone's experience at the nature center. Check out this Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier article and the Hartman Nature Center website for more information.

Winter Bird Irruptions
Keep your eyes out for winter finches like Common RedpollsHoary RedpollsEvening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, and Red Crossbills or White-winged Crossbills. There have been several sightings throughout the state and in our PRAS counties. They may even show up at your feeders! If they do, please let us know at and send us photos. 

Male & two female Evening Grosbeaks. Photo by Mark Dutton

Male Evening Grosbeak with female House Sparrrows. Photo by Mark Dutton

Click the link above to see striking photos of exotic species. We appreciate all of the wonderful photos that our members share. We know that when people can marvel at the beauty of birds and other creatures up close, an appreciation is curated. Those who appreciate the beauty of nature are more likely inspired to take action to save it.

Be sure to enjoy the beautiful photos of PRAS members on these blogs: Speaking of Nature by PRAS Board Member, Kenneth Heiar and Ladage Photography, by Kip Ladage. You can always find links to these blogs and many other identification sites, birdcams, etc. on our "Links" page. Plus we have great photos on our Flickr account.

If you see Trumpeter Swans with neck collars--report them to the Iowa DNR to help them with population research for this species. Click the link above for details. Remember, the reintroduction of Trumpeter Swans to Iowa is one of our state's success stories. Your participation in the citizen science activity of reporting collared or banded birds is one way you can contribute.

Bird Food Fund Needs a Boost
Thanks to all who have generously donated funds to our bird food fund! We appreciate any and all donations. PRAS maintains bird feeding stations at George Wyth, Cedar Falls Visitor Center and the Cedar Valley Hospice.
Send donations to: PRAS P.O. Box 682 Waterloo, IA 50704 or make a donation using our secure PayPal link on the About Us page.
      Find an injured bird or animal? Call Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project 319-277-6511

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We share information about field trips, local sightings, fun and interesting photos and stories about birds, nature, the environment, etc. on our Facebook page. Check it out and like us and "share" our posts.