In the Sky: April 2021

For the month of April, of special interest is a sky full of bright stars and following Mars as it moves into the Winter Hexagon. "Give thanks to the Lord, … who by his wisdom made the heavens." - Psalm 136

Bird-A-Thon 2021
See details about this year's Bird-A-Thon events.

The species count sheet will be posted closer to our Bird-A-Thon week.

Two notable field trips during our Bird-A-Thon week will take place:

 May 7th: 4pm North Cedar Project in North Cedar Falls.
      Drive north on Center Street, turn east (right) on Cedar Street for one block and find parking for N.C.N.R.P.

 May 8th: Sweet Marsh near Tripoli. See "details" link above for more directions, etc.

Join us for our socially-distanced field trips to celebrate two of Iowa's newest Bird Friendly Communities...Cedar Falls and Tripoli!  Looking forward to seeing some great migrants and warblers galore!

Read all about it: Wendy VanDeWalle's 2020 Big Year by Ruby Bodeker

Virginia Bluebell with a leafhopper species and a single drop of water...extraordinary! Photo by John McCormick

Pasque Flowers-Blackmun Prairie Photo by Kris Rash

Spring Prairie & Pasque Flower Walk April 25th, 1 p.m.

Check out the Iowa Prairie Network's webpage or Instagram to see events, such as the Spring Prairie & Pasque Flower Walk, April 25, 2021 at 1:00 p.m.  Note: This field trip is sponsored by the Iowa Prairie Network and not PRAS. Check out this great article about this great habitat from the Iowa DNR blog: 

Remnant prairie is the jewel of Blackmun Prairie

PRAS Members Featured in Local Art Exhibit
at Hawkeye Community College's Van G. Miller Adult Learning Center

PRAS members John McCormick and Naomi McCormick both have several impactful pieces in Hawkeye Community College's current alumni exhibit, The Signal and The Noise. The gallery is located on the third floor of the Van G. Miller Adult Learning Center on 120 Jefferson St, Waterloo. Gallery hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibit runs March 8-May 13, 2021.

John's photograph, Birdsong Signal to Noise Ratio Improves During the COVID-19 Pandemic, received top honors at this juried show, winning the President's Award. Congratulations!

John's photo titled Birdsong Signal to Noise Ratio Improves During the COVID-19 Pandemic is an image of a Song Sparrow at Big Woods Lake, Cedar Falls and is inspired by Elizabeth Derryberry at the University of Tennessee. Derryberry studies White-crowned Sparrows around San Francisco, comparing their songs with recordings made in the 1970's. As traffic noise levels increased over the years, the birds increased their volume. However, this volume change forced a reduction in the range of frequencies (the bandwidth) of their songs. Songs degraded in this way are less effective at deterring rivals and attracting females. When the pandemic lockdown began in mid-March (2020), Derryberry saw a photo of an empty Golden Gate Bridge and that made her wonder how the sparrows were responding to the quieter conditions. Recordings made during the lockdown revealed that the sparrows were singing 30% softer than before the lockdown. What's more, they were singing songs with bandwidths typical of birds recorded in the 1970's. The combination of less background noise and a better signal from the wider bandwidth meant the birds could hear each other from twice as far away than before.

Xerces Society Upcoming Webinars
(Xerces Society promotes conservation for Invertebrates) 

We have a full schedule of educational webinars this spring to help you turn your conservation dreams into action. Topics include ways to attract and support pollinators in managed landscapes, how water quality practices can benefit pollinators, soil invertebrates, and creating community with our insect neighbors. In honor of Earth Day, on April 22nd, Scott Black will give a talk titled "Insect Apocalypse? What Is Really Happening, Why It Matters and How We Can All Be a Vital Part of the Solution."

Visit to learn more about these events and to register. All of our webinars are posted to our YouTube channel after the event.

      Find an injured bird or animal? Call Black Hawk Wildlife Rehabilitation Project 319-277-6511

Subscribe to the PRAS YouTube Channel if you are interested in watching recordings of our past Zoom meetings for which we have permission to post for viewing.

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