Sightings Archive

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Curious about a bird that someone has seen? Consult the "Links" page for links to birding ID sites. Scroll down to see other local observations. Thanks to those who share your observations.

NEW! Sightings in Iowa- a lot of PRAS birders post their observations on this listsugusterv and it is automatically updated, so consult the "Sightings in Iowa" link to see what's being seen in Iowa and our local six-county area. 

Sept 1, 2020:
American Avocets at Riverview Park right across on beach. Osprey feeding young. 

August 23, 2020: An Osprey was seen over the Cedar River in Waverly and a Blue-grey gnatcatcher was also seen among a small flock of birds. - J. Q. 

August 22, 2020: A Least Tern was seen by two PRAS members in the morning at the Wagner Rd wetlands outside of Waterloo.  Later in the afternoon, Sandhill Cranes, several Great Blue Heron, lots of Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs,Blue-winged Teal, Red-winged Blackbirds and a couple of Yellow-headed Blackbirds, a lone Cormorant, a Ring-necked Pheasant, and an immature eagle were observed. 
At the nearby private wetlands, a Sora and three chicks were observed. Virginia Rail, Pectoral Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Eastern Kingbird, American Goldfinch, were among the birds seen. The highlight being the Sora chicks!

August 16,2020: Pileated Woodpecker at Babcock Woods.- J. Q. 

August 7, 2020: Northern Waterthrush  Greenbelt Lake Photo by Scott Garrett

August 5, 2020: I saw a Gray Partridge with several chicks and I had a Bluebird nest with 8 eggs.  It was lost to predation.  - David V. 

The merlins left the nest on Liberty Ave.on July 30th and have been flying around the neighborhood ever since, and chasing each other at times.  All 5, the adults and 3 young exploded from the trees to chase a crow this morning.  Bird carnage (house sparrows) is much more evident now with whole birds, half eaten ones, and pieces strewn on lawns.  My neighbor had what we think was a gizzard fall on his shoulder.  His baby daughter had a feather land on her.  They have been active throughout the day calling, flying, and practicing being merlins -  mostly hanging out near the sycamore nest tree.    This has been a rare opportunity to watch merlin behaviors in a way we we usually don’t see. 

The birds seen on Kimball in Waterloo are from a different nest.  At least four have been seen over there.  Not sure where the nest had been over there - maybe in the ponderosa pines next to the Subway. 

Tom Schilke - Waterloo

July 22, 2020: Big Woods Lake - Male Blue Grosbeak singing from treetop observed from approx 50' away for several minutes. He was still singing when I left.  Location on NW side of lake near bench marked as Bob & Kathy Braun bench.

July 19, 2020: The merlin nest across the street from my house at 1432 Liberty Ave. has three mostly downy young as best that I can tell.  The parents have been on guard and are quite vocal when feeding time is near or crows, vultures, etc. come too close.  Viewers that have come to see the nest have been rewarded with views of the birds in usually short order, often seeing them on open favored branches plucking apart prey (house sparrows ) or standing watch. 

Francis Moore reports the likelihood of another merlin nest on south Kimball in Waterloo by or in large ponderosa pines next to the Subway parking lot.  Merlins have been seen in that spot multiple times and carrying food.  Haven’t spotted the nest yet.

The merlins that nested in Waterloo in 2016 were fledged and flying about by July 12th.  Here we are on July 19 and the young are just now beginning to get some feathers.  Also in 2016 the merlins decapitated their prey.  I have yet to find heads or see them rip a head off while feeding.  From about 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. has been a pretty consistent time to watch them in good light.

Merlins have been spotted during the summer months each year since 2016,  I think it is safe to assume that we have a continual breeding population, one that is perhaps expanding through the metro area.

Tom Schilke - Waterloo

July 18, 2020: Multiple Wood Thrushes were singing at McFarlane Park Saturday morning. It was quite lovely.

July 15, 2020: An Upland Sandpiper was heard flying overhead while observing the Neowise comet.

July 14, 2020: An early morning bike ride on the Cedar Valley Trail can present various wildlife encounters. Luckily the Striped Skunk did not feel threatened when I rode passed it. 

June 29, 2020: The merlins that have occupied a nest across the street north from my house for the last two months in Waterloo have begun to actively feed nestlings.  During the first month they came to and from the nest, straightened it up, mated, stashed food, etc.  The next month she, and occasionally he, incubated eggs.  There has been  on occasion a second male.  I still have a clear view of the nest in the tall sycamore which is now beginning to leave out after a bout with anthracnose.  The neighbors are cool with visitors watching the merlins. I usually have a scope on the nest by my garage door at 1432 Liberty Ave.  Visitors are welcome.  Evening light is best from my angle.

It will be about another month before the young fledge during which time the male could bring up to nine birds a day to the nest - mostly house sparrows.  Vocalizations have been interesting - more to it than a simple call.  I haven’t seen little heads yet.  The nest survived 50 mph straight line winds and torrential rain.  They defend the nest from any raptor that gets anywhere near calling at length during the attack.  Soft little chinks mixed in with the calls generally seem to mean some kind of interaction between the merlins - either food is here or it is time to switch places for a while. 

Also of interest near by are nesting black billed cuckoo, flicker, bells vireos and maybe red-headed woodpecker on the bike trail at Gilbertville.  Go north from the depot towards Evensdale until you get almost get to the Schaefer Natural area bench, almost a half mile walk. 

Bank Swallows are nesting in the private quarry south of the road to the water treatment plant which is along the south border of of Riverview Park in Waterloo 1.5 miles from my house.   Stand by the gate and watch - also YB cuckoo hanging out there. 

Best Wishes,  Tom Schilke - Waterloo
May 27, 2020: White Faced Ibis at Diagonal Park in Waterloo. 

May 25, 2020: After this morning I remember why I like the Cedar Valley Nature Trail so much.  The diversity of habitats attract a lot of birds and critters.  It is designated as an important bird area. One can bird it on foot, on skates, on a bike in one gear, in a wheel chair, or laid out on a gurney.  This morning I biked wearing plain clothes and logged 67 bird species (of which only three would migrate through), five monarchs and a Blanding's turtle.  I parked at the depot in Gilberville and went NW four miles towards Evansdale and back, and then four miles from Gilbertville south towards LaPorte City.  Some highlights:

NW route: 56 species
Bell’s Vireo - 7
YB cuckoo - 2
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Blackpoll Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Gray Catbird - 6 per mile
Sandhill Crane - 2
Wood Thrush

Southern Route: 53 species
Alder Flycatcher
YB Cuckoo - 2
Henslow’s Sparrow - 2
Grasshopper Sparrow
Alder Flycatcher
Blackpoll Warbler
Lark Sparrow
Wood Thrush
Crowd of 22 cyclists on break at the depot - summer is here and the virus is declared over for some

Tom Schilke - Waterloo

May 21, 2020: Cedar Valley Bike Trail-- Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Meadowlark, Field Sparrow, singing Wood Thrush, Redstarts and other little birds hard to ID when you are riding. 

Hickory Hills: Canada Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, lots of redstarts. Singing Wood Thrush.

May 20, 2020: 6:15 a.m. Lower Hartman, Shirey Lake trail. No Connecticut, No Canada, No Hooded, No Prothonotary warblers...but, several Wilsons, Blackburnians, a Chestnut-sided Warblers, and Veery. Lots of American Redstarts. 

At Hickory Hills there were a lot of Yellow Warblers, American Redstarts, and Common Yellowthroats. Also seen, Catbirds, Magnolia Warbler, Eastern Kingbird and lots of goslings of incremental sizes.

May 19, 2020: Wednesday Morning Birding leaders, Craig and Kris Rash found some great warblers along the grassy trail from the lower Lookout Park parking spot, down to the Shirey Lake Trail at Lower Hartman Reserve. Connecticut, Blackburnian, Canada, American Redstart, Magnolia, Hooded and Prothontary Warblers were observed. In addition, a Gray-Cheeked Thrush, Northern Cardinal, Great-Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Wood Pee-Wee and Turkey Vultures were also seen.

May 13, 2020: We’ve had this bob white coming up very close to our house the last several days.  He sings his little heart out. I don’t know if he will find a mate or not.  They are very rare around these fields. -Linda P.

Just wanted to share something new that's happening at my feeder this year. I live in a deciduous woods. Some years we have a sighting of a scarlet tanager at our feeder for a one time stop. This year we have 2 males & one I'm not sure if it's male or female coming into the feeder several times a day for the last 5 days. First photo shows one on feeder & one in tree. Second only shows one feeding with a grosbeak & a hairy on the pole behind. --Kathy T.

May 10, 2020: Nesting Merlins have been observed in the neighborhood of one of our PRAS Board members.

May 9, 2020: Bird #199 for the Bird-A-Thon --Gray Partridge seen and photographed by Lyle and Marlene Neher. Thanks for the great sighting!  

Gray Partridge - Photo by Lyle Neher

May 8, 2020:  Good Day All, Great day for birding.  Tom Schilke visited Allamakee County yesterday and added many new species including the Ruffed Grouse. Our PRAS group sighted eighteen new species and our total is now at 171.  Look over the species list and perhaps you can add to our count.  Always great to see and hear what the birders are seeing. Also, one additional  check supporting our Bird A Thon was received.  Thanks!

Craig and Kris Rash

May 7, 2020: Good Day All, Great day for birding. Sixteen new species were sighted and now brings our total 153.  Look over the species lisand perhaps you can add to our count.  Always great to see and hear what the birders are seeing. 

Craig and Kris Rash

Yellow Warbler @ Greenbelt Lake.  Photo by John McCormick

May 6, 2020:  Good Day All,  a great day for birding. Sixteen new species were sighted and now brings our total 153.  Look over the species lisand perhaps you can add to our count.  Always great to see and hear what the birders are seeing. 

Craig and Kris Rash

Goslings galore at the Hawkeye Community College campus; three separate clutches with 5, 7 and 8 goslings of incremental sizes were observed by the campus bird nerd, (C. Havely). The students always enjoyed watching our resident goslings; I suspect that the geese had a more peaceful nesting season this year since campus has been closed since mid-March. - C. Havely

May 5, 2020:  Good Day All, day three of our 2020 PRAS Bird A Thon was very successful.  13 species were sighted and now brings our total 134.  Look over the species lisand perhaps you can add to our count.  Always great tp see and hear what the birders are seeing. -Craig and Kris  

A first spring male Summer Tanager located in an area of the park near the roller dam on the Shell Rock River at Heery Woods. The park is located near Clarksville in Butler County.

May 4, 2020: Day 2 of 2020 Bird A Thon   Good Day,  PRAS birders added 18 new species to the tally sheet showing a new total of 121 species thru day two. Review the list on our website and inform me if additional species have been sighted. Also, now is the time to begin thinking about a monetary gift to PRAS for this year.

Thanks for your response to sightings.
Craig and Kris

May 3, 2020:  Good Day All,  Day one of our 2020 PRAS Bird A Thon was very successful.  103 species were sighted in our 6 county region. Look over the species list and perhaps you can add to our count.  Always great tp see and hear what the birders are seeing.

A few notable birds seen over the weekend:

Cape May Warbler
Eurasian Tree Sparrow seen in Butler and Buchanan Counties

May 2, 2020: Snowy Egret at the Wagner Rd-Dunkerton Rd wetlands.
Snowy Egret May 2, 2020 Wagner/Dunkerton Roads Wetlands  Photo by Kris Rash

May 1, 2020: Black-crowned Night Heron roosting in the willows at Prairie Lakes in Cedar Falls. A Ring-necked Duck was seen at Black Hawk Park north of Cedar Falls. Eared Grebes were seen near Diagonal St in Waterloo and at the KOA Resort at Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo.  Spotted Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs were also at the KOA resort among other shorebirds.  

April 28, 2020: Willets at Brinker Lake at the tip of the sand bar. Visible from the exit ramp. Short and Long-billed Dowitchers were seen at the Wagner Road/Dunkerton Road wetlands. Least Flycatcher & Swainson's Thrush @ Black Hawk Park, Sedge Wren near Vinton.

April 27, 2020: Surf Scoter were seen at the Dunkerton Sewage Lagoons. View from road only.

Long-billed Dowitchers and one Lapland Longspur were seen at the wetlands at Dunkerton Road and Wagner Road.

A Dark-eyed Junco was lingering at Seven Bridges County Park.

April 25, 2020: Eared Grebe observed at the wetlands at Dunkerton Road and Wagner Road.

Short-billed Dowitcher, Palm Warbler seen at Big Marsh.

Fox Sparrow at Hardin CCB Headquarters, Hardin County

A Palm Warbler was seen at Pine Lake State Park, Hardin County and at a private marsh in Black Hawk County.

April 23, 2020: A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was observed at Hickory Hills.

April 22, 2020: 50th Anniversary of Earth Day!
22 April  EARTH DAY and it is Wednesday 

Good Day
   Kris and I decided to spend Wednesday morning birding.  Just the two of us and although we missed the fellowship of birding with our friends, we did enjoy being out in nature away from all the world activity.  Just the two of us, the 49 species listed below, variety of vegetation, aquatic species and the sky above us.  Oh!  And the fragrances of our surroundings. We wish all of you could have been here.

   Perhaps you will enjoy reviewing the bird list below or will access the PRAS website,, to view the sightings section or better yet, access the links section to gain access to , http//cams, a web cam where you can view an American Kestrel or Barred Owl nesting.  Hence, you may be birding from your home with others from around the world .   How great can that be?

   I took time  to call Jean Hall, a long time Wednesday Morning birder and friend last Monday.  She now lives in a retirement facility in Seattle Washington and because of Covid 19 issues is confined to her living facility like many others are experiencing, too.  Jean expressed the frustration of not being able to take long  (often  5 miles) walks in nearby parks, etc. and the joy of having friends call on her. Fortunately, Jean does use her computer to keep in touch with others.  She just feels cooped up!  If you would like to contact Jean, just give me a call and I will give the particulars to access her.  Keep in mind those other friends we have that would enjoy a visit ( call or e-mail), too.
   The goals of PRAS have not been diminished and the 2020 Bird  A Thon drive will be even greater this year.  Your dollars will be used to advance local environmental needs. We have many, many wild life and public birding properties that we can access to view our special species.  Consider a separate step in your pledge to give $140 to support the monthly expense of sponsoring a PRAS speaker. 
   Most important to us is you make  every effort to participate in the out door experience and join us on our next Wednesday Morning birding. 

Craig and Kris

PS.  Got to go.  Kris just came in from our woods saying she sighted our (for the year)  first Orange-Crowned Warbler.

Leopoldo wetlands, Bremer, Iowa, US
Apr 22, 2020 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
49 species

Canada Goose  6
Trumpeter Swan  3
Blue-winged Teal  4
Northern Shoveler  8
Mallard  2
Green-winged Teal  5
Ring-necked Pheasant  1
Wild Turkey  1
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  2
Mourning Dove  2
American Coot  80
Sandhill Crane  5
Killdeer  5
Pectoral Sandpiper  6
Greater Yellowlegs  12
Lesser Yellowlegs  5
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  4
Bald Eagle  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Broad-winged Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Barred Owl  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Blue Jay  1
American Crow  8
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  20
Brown Thrasher  1
Eastern Bluebird  2
American Robin  5
House Sparrow  1
American Goldfinch  2
Field Sparrow  2
Dark-eyed Junco  1
White-crowned Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  1
Swamp Sparrow  1
Eastern Meadowlark  2
Red-winged Blackbird  18
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Common Grackle  5
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
Northern Cardinal  1

View this checklist online at

April 20, 2020: Nine ibis (species) and a Golden Eagle spotted on the northeast outskirts of Waterloo. Three more White-faced Ibis were also seen just north of Waterloo near the intersection of Dunkerton and Wagner Rd.

April 19, 2020: 20 White-faced Ibis and a juvenile Golden Eagle at Big Marsh in Butler County. They were seen from south parking lot along Hwy 14. 

April 16, 2020: Common Loon, lots of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Red-headed Woodpeckers, a very vocal Belted Kingfisher and a sizable flock of Blue-Winged Teal who were softly "pipping" to each other. All seen, along with Nodding Trillium at Hickory Hills.

March 29, 2020: Great Egret and Common Loon at George Wyth SP; Sandhill Cranes, lots of coots, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, Northern Shoveler at Sweet Marsh.

March 28, 2020: Our PRAS President, Tom Schilke, has been practicing social distancing. Here's what he's been seeing for the last week.

Riverview Park - Waterloo - today
Common Loon
Brown-headed cowbirds - FOY
E. Phoebe - 2 singing from nearby junkyards (Bewick’s Phoebes by chance?)
E. Cottontail - when frightened ran across an expanse of 12 feet of water, 9” deep in the middle, like a basilisk. 

Geo. Wyth Park - Waterloo, reopened after flooding closure - Friday
Unusually quiet - like the birds are restrictions also
Red shouldered hawks - good time to look for their nests
4 dead fairly newborn rabbits arranged neatly on a bare remote bike path  - no sign of trauma - weird

Hickory Hills -Tama co. - Thurs.
Snow trillium blooming, E. Comma butterfly,
snow goose
only 29 bird species in over 3 hours

Greenbelt Lake - Waterloo - Wed.
Hermit Thrush - FOY - singing
Golden Cr. Kinglet - FOY
Pileated woodpeckers - pair
Groups of Chickadees working the soft maple buds
Dead shad - mostly large size, some still alive, dead leopard frog in the mix -Hmm -  I reported it

Sweet Marsh - Bremer Co. Tues.
High water, flooded river-bottom
Sandhill Cranes - they nest here - 3 separate pair on the dikes
Waterfowl - low diversity and numbers - mostly divers

Big Marsh - Butler Co.
Park at south boat ramp - walk the interior dike loop
My favorite for consistent diversity of waterfowl species around here
Ross’s geese FOY

Cedar Hills Sand Prairie 3/11
Guaranteed woodcock in decent weather until June
They have probably been there since late February early March.
Peenting starts about 20 minutes after sundown

Be safe and enjoy spring before it flies by. 
March 26, 2020: Lots of Northern Shovelers joined the Lesser Scaup and couple pairs of Buffleheads. There is one Snow Goose hanging with a bunch of Canada Geese at Hickory Hills.

March 22, 2020: Five Red-breasted Mergansers were on Casey Lake at Hickory Hills. 

March 16, 2020: Two Golden Eagles (one juvenile and one adult) were seen in Bremer County.

March 8, 2020:
A Golden Eagle flyover was recorded in Buchanan County. 

March 5, 2020: Green-winged Teal spotted at George Wyth State Park.

Green-winged Teal   Photo by Stephanie Kleiner

March 4, 2020: Mute and Tundra Swans continue at Brinker Lake. 

Hooded Merganser pair also observed in Black Hawk County.

Hooded Merganser pair.  Photo by Ron Kuper

March 1, 2020: Brinker Lake at George Wyth S.P. had Trumpeter, Tundra and Mute Swans! Pintails, Canvasback, Redheads, N. Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Lesser and Greater Scaup, Green-winged Teal, Snow and Ross's Geese and waves of White-fronted Geese. 

Large groups of Greater White-fronted Geese with some Snow Geese were observed flying over Hickory Hills. A Kestral was on the wire along Dysart Road and 2 Killdeer were seen as well. 

Feb 2, 2020: Trumpeter, Tundra and a Mute Swan were seen at Brinker Lake.

A Long-eared Owl was seen and photographed at Hickory Hills today. Maybe a photo will be on display at our Feb. meeting on the photosharing board. 

A Rough-legged Hawk and American Kestral were observed on perches along Dysart Road.

A Northern Shrike has been observed hunting along the Cedar Valley Bike Trail on the west side along Hwy 63 just south of Hwy 20.

January 21, 2020: A Varied Thrush has been seen at a feeder for over three weeks at a place near New Hartford in Butler County.

January 20, 2020: Two Tundra Swans were among the many Trumpeter Swans at the south side of Brinker Lake.

January 12, 2020: The Varied Thrush continues at the location referenced on January 10th.

Varied Thrush - Photo by Wendy VanDeWalle

January 10, 2020: A Varied Thrush was seen at the Mental Health Institute in Independence. It is on the backside (west), towards the north end. They feed the birds out on the grass, close to the road. The birds are very skittish as it is out in the open, so you need to scan from afar. W. Vandewalle   Note: THIS IS A GREAT SIGHTING! These birds are Pacific Northwest-Alaska birds.

January 8, 2020: An Eurasian Tree Sparrow is continuing at a feeder in Buchanan County.

January 7, 2020: Two Sandhill Cranes were observed amongst the Canada Geese at Big Marsh in Butler County.

Dec. 31, 2019: Red Crossbills were seen once again in Harlington Cemetery, Waverly working the tops of the pine trees.

Dec. 15, 2019: A Rough-legged Hawk was seen a few miles north of Hickory Hills in Tama County.

Red Crossbills have been seen in Harrington Cemetery in Waverly, Iowa.

Dec. 14, 2019: Christmas Bird Count-Bremer County: After breakfast at AllyCatz Grubhouse in Denver, Iowa counters dispersed throughout Bremer county to brave the cold and wind to count birds. Some highlights: Merlin, Northern Shrike, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Northern Pintail, mergansers, American Kestral, etc.  A Blue Jay mocking a Red-shouldered Hawk was also heard.Thanks to all who participated. If you still need to submit your count sheet, please email them to Francis Moore at And one more thing...congratulations are in order. Denver, Iowa was just named as Iowa's third Bird Friendly Community! Well done Gary Everding and Laura Chapman for your leadership on this initiative. Well done Denver, and congratulations!

Nov. 13, 2019: We don’t pay a lot of attention to the feeders in the winter because we are down to Juncos, House Sparrows, Blue Jays, and not much more. Today there was a tremendous surprise as we have a pair of Eurasian Tree Sparrows in the mix. The dark ear patch makes them easy to spot amount the House Sparrows. We are located just a few miles northeast from Waterloo. - Mike and Sandy J.

Nov. 11, 2019: Black Scoter continues at Prairie Lakes, south end of the south lake. 

The Northern Saw-whet Owl was spotted again at Greenbelt Lake.

N. Saw-whet Owl   Photo by Alan Orr
Nov 9, 2019: Red Crossbill seen in the Harlington Cemetery-Block 8 or 13, in Waverly.

A Northern Saw-Whet was seen at Greenbelt Lake.

Nov 6, 2019: A Black Scoter joined the Surf Scoter and some Ruddy Ducks near the south end of the south lake. Seen last around 3 p.m.

A late Nashville Warbler was seen gleaning bugs from goldenrod in Hardin County.

Nov 5, 2019: Surf Scoter seen at Prairie Lakes in Cedar Falls. 

Three distinct Great Horned Owls could be heard vocalizing in my neighborhood on the SE corner of Waterloo. One was fairly close and could be heard through the window when the TV was muted. A good reason to mute the TV! 

Nov 4, 2019: A late Field Sparrow was observed at Prairie Lakes in Cedar Falls.

October 31, 2019: A Red-necked Grebe was seen on Brinker Lake in George Wyth State Park near the boat ramp and swimming towards the floating barrier. - T.S.

At Greenbelt Lake: A pair of Gadwall, a pair of Ring-necked Ducks and two pair of Mallards. - CH

October 23, 2019: Good day, today turned out to be a beautiful fall day and great for the 14 PRAS members birding Martin Lake.  Ed Hack, naturalist and part of the Waterloo Leisure and Development team, reviewed the future plans for Martin Lake.  Then a 1 mile birding where we observed 35 species as listed below. American White Pelican and Greater Yellow Legs were in flight.  Kris and I saw a mink cross the pavement on our way home today. Check our web site for our next birding adventure.  Otherwise we look forward to returning to Wednesday's birding next May in 2020. Thanks for your participation. - Craig and Kris Rash

October 20, 2019: There was a white-faced ibis spotted in Solon the other day. Well, it must have flew up to Grundy County because it is at the Holland Marsh right now. It is on the east side of the marsh. The best bet to see it is by taking the trail to the south and seeing it from a difference. Watched it for about 20 minutes and it is just hanging out eating! - HH

October 19, 2019: A Northern Saw-Whet Owl was seen along a local trail in the early morning.

October 16, 2019:  It was sunny for about 5 minutes of our two hour  PRAS Wednesday birding this morning.  The wind and overcast did not prevent our PRAS birders from testing  their knowledge of  identifying  the 38 species.  The birds seemed to be hunkered down in the vegetation but also interested in who was waiting for them to reveal themselves.  We enjoyed listening to the Belted Kingfisher call as it flew along the lake shore. Check out our website to confirm next Wednesday's birding location.

A Red Crossbill was seen at one of the sunflower feeders at the George Wyth Bird Blind area.

October 9, 2019: Good Day All, 37 species were sighted on our 1.8 mile birding at Hickory Hills Park this morning.  17 PRAS members enjoyed the outing.  Very few hawks were sighted but we did have the opportunity to watch the Sharp Shin fly, hover and land in a standing tree in a catch pond near us.  Plan on attending next Wednesday when we meet and bird Prairie Lakes in Cedar Falls.
scribes...Craig and Kris Rash
September 25, 2019: Another lesson learned.  I spent 15 minutes trying to figure out what species  L. Hart was.  Finally,  after encouraging Kris to help determine the  unknown species Kris reminded me that we were birding Lower Hartman this morning.  Unknown notation identified--Lower Hartman.  17 PRAS birders birded for 2.5 hours and sighted 25 species as listed below.  Another nice day to be in the woods.  Next Wednesday plan on joining us as we bird Greenbelt Lake in Waterloo. Craig

Currently a big migration of Broad-winged Hawks at my worksite near Waterloo. Quite a spectacle,several kettles totalling, 1500- 2000 plus a Merlin Sharpie, TVs, and a Bald E. Nice to see those numbers despite the recent doom and gloom report of declining birds.-T.S.

September 24, 2019: Currently a big migration of Broad-winged Hawks at my worksite near Waterloo. Quite a spectacle,several kettles totalling, 1500- 2000 plus a Merlin Sharpie, TVs, and a Bald E. Nice to see those numbers despite the recent doom and gloom report of declining birds. D.E.

September 21, 2019: The BioBlitz at Orange Elementary School was a great success! Volunteers, including six kids recorded species in the prairies area. Here's just a few highlights: Prairie plants including Indian Grass, Showy Tick-Trefoil, milkweed species, Artemisia (Prairie Sage), etc. Viburnums, dogwoods, aspen, and other trees. Cool bugs: Common Pill Woodlouse, Fall Field Crickets, Goldenroad Soldier Beetle, Turfgrass Ant, Great Black Wasp, grasshopper, bee species, etc. Birds: N. Cardinal, Am. Goldfinch, Killdeer, etc. 

September 20, 2019: Sandhill Cranes were calling along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

September 18, 2019: This is the kind of morning we all look forward to in September.  It was great to be on a birding  two and half hour adventure with 23 PRAS members. We sighted 33 species as listed below. Plenty of time to observe a Black and White Warbler and Red-eyed Vireo. Both opportunities were good for ID reinforcement.  No hawks were sighted even though we are in the peak for their migration. Look forward to birding lower Hartman next Wednesday morning. - Craig

Red-eyed Vireo eating Dogwood Berries   Photo by Ken Heiar

September 11, 2019: Good Day...19 PRAS members birded the Big Woods Lake area this morning.  We were able to bird until 10 a.m. and then the rains came in. 26 species were sighted.  Looking forward to birding the George Wyth Lake next Wednesday morning. Come join us Craig

September 7, 2019: Did some birding by ear on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail this morning. First bird heard was an Eastern Bluebird near the Gilbertville Depot. Other notable birds heard: Grey Catbird, N. Cardinals, tutting Robins, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Red-shouldered Hawk, Mourning Dove, Pileated Woodpecker, a Sora in the wetland, Am. Goldfinch and the best bird...a bugling Sandhill Crane that was in the wooded muddy ditch along the bike trail immediately west of the new bridge at McFarlane! - C.H.

September 4, 2019: Wednesday Morning Birding: Welcome to our Fall 2019 PRAS Wednesday Morning birding. 15 PRAS members accompanied Craig and Kris Rash while they birded the Robertson Bird Sanctuary this morning for 2.5 hours and sighted 23 species. Perhaps the Northern Waterthrush was a highlight, but the lack of mosquitoes was also welcomed as we enjoyed  a beautiful morning in the woods.  We had the opportunity to hear many calls without seeing the birds because of the dense leaf coverage.  Look forward to our Birding Big Woods lake next Wednesday morning.- Craig and Kris Rash

September 3, 2019: Cuckoo (presumably Yellow-billed) on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

August 29, 2019: Carolina Wren heard trilling on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

August 26, 2019: My backyard has been host to several female redstarts and today my backyard hosted 2 blue-gray gnatcatchers (for a total of 5 seconds!!) Also, every year before migration our Orioles like to rip the flowers off of my trumpet vine and drink the nectar. -A.S.

August 25, 2019: Canada Warbler, several Chestnut-sided, E. Kingbirds, Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Am. Redstart, Black and White Warbler, E. Wood Peewee, Tree Swallows, Wild Turkeys, Turkey Vulture observed at Hickory Hills.

August 23, 2019: Blue-headed Vireo, Bullfrog Bayou area, Hartman Reserve.

August 19-20, 2019: American Woodcock, lots of Northern Flicker, lots of Catbirds, Field Sparrow, Wood Thrush, Barred Owl, observed on Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

July 30, 2019: A handsome garter snake with a digesting meal was seen on the Cedar Valley Bike Trail. Wood Thrush have been singing every night. Eastern Meadowlarks were also singing.

July 28 & 29, 2019: Eurasian Tree Sparrow continues at a feeder in Buchanan County.

July 20, 2019: While checking out the school prairie at Hoover MS. in Waterloo (don’t plant cup plant) I heard merlins and spotted four sitting in the dead branches of an ash tree to the east.   I walked over and saw five in two dying ash right at the main entrance to Lou Henry Elementary School which faces Rachael Street.

A call to Jim Welch, a local Audubon member, who lives nearby and had reported probable Kestrels in the area, verified that he had been seeing them in the same two trees almost daily for over a week.  I suspect they are two adults and 3 fledged young.  They were not bothered by my presence.  Merlins had nested in 2016 about 4 blocks to the north and had been seen in the area during the summer months on occasion in 2017 and 2018. T.S.

At Big Marsh: Mute Swan on the east side of the marsh. Solitary, Least, and Semi-Palmated Sandpipers, along with Killdeer were also seen.

July 16, 2019: A Blue Grosbeak was observed by 3 different people at George Wyth S.P. near Brinker Lake.

Ron Kuper reports:I observed this group of Wood Ducks at George Wyth State Park on 7-15-2019. I was trying to visualize A Blue Grosbeak that I heard  vocalizing.  I had no luck in locating the Blue Grosbeak but was very pleased to see the Wood Ducks. They were on the pond North of the Brinker Lake boat ramp.

Photo by Ron Kuper -- Wood Ducks, July 2019 - George Wyth State Park

July 15, 2019: An American Avocet was seen on the sandbar at the north side of Brinker Lake, viewable from highway exit ramp.

July 11, 2019: A pair of Merlins were observed at the Dysart City yard waste dump. The dump is on the southwest corner of town. M.G.

July 3, 2019: The juvenile NEOTROPIC CORMORANT I reported last month, was back at Brinker Lake associated with 4 D.c. Cormorants. They were spread out, so the smaller head and smaller size of the Neotropic were quite apparent when compared to the D.c. Cormorants. There have been up to 10 or so D.c. Cormorants for a while, but they are not always there. I'm assuming this bird has been there off and on. It's difficult to distinguish it when they are roosting in a tight group, which they often are. The BLUE GROSBEAK is still around and was singing on the fence near the exit ramp. Another was sing in the park, just past the entrance.

June 30, 2019: This morning, I heard and saw a Y.B. CHAT at Cedar River N.R.A. near Washburn. Last summer there was a couple near the gun range. This one was just east down the road on north side where there is a field with many small trees and shrubs. Interestingly on my way out, I noticed a freshly killed mink along the road. I ran into a park official nearby doing some work, who said he observed a Red-shouldered Hawk kill and attempt to take off with it. He said it appeared too heavy for it, plus it startled when he showed up. I had heard it on my drive in. They are regular permanent residents here. 

This morning, there were 2 BLUE GROSBEAKS singing at Riverview Recreation Area. One was singing incessantly on the north side and the other near the boat ramp on the south side. This is the first time I've recorded them at this location. 

Good birding, T Stone 

June 11, 2019: Blue Grosbeaks have returned to places they were observed last year. One was perched on the fence, singing by the exit ramp overlooking the north end of Brinker Lake. T.S.

June 9, 2019: Yellow-billed Cuckoos were singing all along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. A Wood Thrush was singing at the campground at McFarlane...hope the campers enjoyed its song as much as I did. C.H.

June 6, 2019: There is a NEOTROPIC CORMORANT at Brinker Lake, on the sandbar. It is associated with 8 Double-crested Cormorants. While Looking them over, I noticed one that was obviously smaller, with smaller head and bill. I also noticed the pouch was dull yellish not orange and not  as visible as D.C. t was still there at about 7. It appears to be in first year plumage. - T.S.

June 3, 2019: There is a Western Grebe on the north end of Brinker Lake at George Wyth S.P. Scope needed.

June 1, 2019: Bell's Vireo were heard at three different spots north of the Gilbertvilled Depot on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. 

May 29, 2019: 50 species were seen on our PRAS Wednesday morning birding this morning. This was our last schedule Wednesday morning birding for the spring.  Return to our web site to determine birding trips that may be scheduled during the summer months.  Otherwise look forward to birding with us again this September. - Craig and Kris

May 25 & 26, 2019: Riverview Park in Waterloo: Some highlights: Connecticut Warbler - of the unskulky variety.  In a mostly open area of multi colored Dames Rocket and some brush.  Sat on a branch in the open 12 feet in front of me waiting for me to get my camera to focus.  Flew short distances, remaining in the open, making a big circle and returning to where I flushed it. (Murphy must be on vacation). From the first parking lot rest room, go south into the woods about 100 yards.  It was in the area just west of the winding road - lots of Dames Rocket in full bloom there.   

Alder Flycatcher

Colony of Bank Swallows in private quarry off the paved road that defines the south border of the park.  

A ground hopping, tail pumping, Yellow Rumped warbler, capable of flying, in the same spot as yesterday.  About 10 other warbler sp.  

Riverview Park is on the east end of Mitchell - over the tracks and though the junkyard. - T. S. 

Connecticut Warbler at Riverview Park, Waterloo.  Photo by Tom Schilke

May 23, 2019: George Wyth S.P.: Blackpoll Warbler and Scarlet Tanager were seen. 

Scarlet Tanager at George Wyth State Park, photo by Scott Garrett

Blackpoll Warbler at George Wyth State Park photo by Scott Garrett

May 21, 2019: A Bay-breasted Warbler was seen in Floyd County. 

Bay-breasted Warbler Photo by Victoria Shipp

May 19, 2019: A Connecticut Warbler was seen at George Wyth State Park. 
Cape May, Black-Throated Green, and a late Yellow-rumper Warbler were among birds seen at Hickory Hills. 

May 15, 2019: 66 species were observed, which includes the Gray-cheeked Thrush seen in the parking lot. 18 birders participated. Join us for two more Wednesday morning field trips...May 22nd: Robinson Bird Sanctuary; May 29th: Riverview Recreation Area-Harold Getty Lake

Bay-breasted Warbler  B. Plakke

Chesnut-sided Warbler  Hickory Hills  Photo courtesy of Bruce Plakke

May 11, 2019: 122 species were observed by 18 PRAS members at Sweet Marsh for our Bird-A-Thon field trip. We birded for 9 hours and walked over 5.85 miles.  Many sightings were added to our PRAS Bird A Thon list which is at 184 for the week. Our end of season monthly meeting will be Tuesday, 14 May.  Our potluck starts at 6 pm followed with our meeting starting at 7 pm; Dr. Daryl Smith will be our featured speaker, talking about Iowa Prairies. The group was treated to seeing eight Black-crowned Night Herons all in flight at once! Our best warbler was probably the Golden-winged Warbler. See the wonderful photos that Bruce Plakke took during our day.

Black-crowned Night Heron   Photo by Bruce Plakke

Golden-winged Warbler  Photo by Bruce Plakke

May 10, 2019: 11 birders attended the Birds and Bloom field trip at Hartman Reserve this morning. The bird of the day was a Summer Tanager, a bird that ebird notes as being "rare" for our area. It gave us great looks as it was uncharacteristically near the ground. Louisiana Waterthrush were singing and visible and we had a late Red-breasted Nuthatch. See the complete list of 48 species. Some flowers that we were seen: Nodding Trillium, Prairie Trillium, Wild Geranium, Wild Ginger, Jack in the Pulpit, False Rue Anemone, Sweet William.

At Greenbelt Lake after 4 p.m. today: Lots of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, lots of Swainson's Thrush, a single Warbler, a beautiful Green Heron and a single Sora! Lots of Common Yellowthroats, a pair of Canada Geese with 6 goslings, a pair of Mallards with four ducklings and a raccoon in the Barred Owl wonder the owls didn't nest there!  - C.H.

May 9, 2019: Birds of bright color must have thought we were having a Cinco de Mayo party on Sunday in our backyard overlooking the backwater of the Cedar River north of Waverly. Of course, we already had red cardinals, blue jays and the newly bright yellow goldfinches. But on Sunday, here came 6 pair of Baltimore orioles followed by a pair of orchard orioles....glad we had put out the oriole feeder! Then three pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks showed up followed by a red headed woodpecker. Next a gray catbird and, finally, as though it thought we needed a flash of blue, an indigo bunting flew in.   We have seen all those birds on our feeders right behind our house except for the indigo bunting every day this week.   It's hard to get anything else done when you can watch all this color! -B.H.

New yard birds: An American Redstart and a Baltimore Oriole. The male oriole has finally found the jelly feeder. Yesterday there was a handsome Green Darner on the soffitt under the eaves of the house. I thought I saw a hummingbird in the yard, but I think it might have actually been the darner. Nonetheless, I made some nectar and put out my first hummingbird feeder. - C.H.

May 8, 2019: This week has been an amazing time for yard birds in the Cedar Valley. White-throated and White Crowned Sparrows, Swainson Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, a small flock of Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Pine Siskins and Goldfinch, plus the regular yard birds. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was seen as late as last Wed.

A Northern Mockingbird was observed eating shelled peanuts near the airport at Waterloo.

May 7, 2019: A Prothonotary Warbler was seen at Big Woods Lake, a Canada Warbler was seen along Shirey Way and a Black-throated Blue Warbler was seen near the intersection of Hackett and the S. Riverside Trail. Thanks Scott Garrett for the great photo!

Black-throated Blue Warbler (male), photo by Scott Garrett

May 2, 2019: A King Rail was heard at a private wetland in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area. The bird was not seen, but rather heard. The observer is going to try and get a visual on this bird as they are a rare sighting for this area.

May 1, 2019: The eleven people that showed up to bird the lower level of Hartman Reserve did not venture off the paved trail as wet, muddy conditions were everywhere.  The Yellow-rumped warblers loved it as noted by their large numbers; we saw 32 speciesIn addition to the birds we counted we saw critters of the four-legged variety including red and fox squirrels, muskrat, deer and a very fast coyote. Bluebells are blooming in profusion and soon the leaves will begin to interfere with seeing birds quite so easily.  Practice listening to those songs...
Kris Rash

Two Black-Crowned Night Herons were seen at George Wyth on the northeast side of the main lake, in the willows. This is almost directly across from the drainage ditch and it would be easy to overlook them.

April 30, 2019: Pine Warbler at George Wyth.

April 28, 2019: Pine Warbler seen at Cedar Valley Nature Reserve. 

April 24, 2019: Darrin Siefken and I photographed three black-necked stilts at Sweet Marsh today.  This is a link to the video of the birds mating. Black-necked Stilts Mating  -Kip Ladage 

Wednesday Morning Birding: We had 15 people show up for our birding today at Geo Wyth.  Someone new has shown up every week; thanks for joining us. Wish you all could be there.  Thanks to Bruce Plakke for being the "scorekeeper". - Kris  List of species seen.

April 22, 2019: Black-crowned Night Heron flyover near the Raymond area.

April 20, 2019: Loggerhead Shrike on the northside of Big Marsh, along the county black top road. Also a Peregrine Falcon and yellow legs. 

April 19, 2019: An adult Golden Eagle was seen at Aldo Leopold Wetland Complex in Bremer County.

April 18, 2019: Louisiana Waterthrush was seen at Hartman Reserve.

April 17, 2019: Good day, twenty PRAS members birded the Greenbelt Lake in Waterloo this morning.  39 species were observed. Bluebells, Trout Lillies were sighted and the the Broadwing Hawk had a Meadow Vole in its beak. Many Kinglets were sighted.  Next Wednesday join us at George Wyth State Park at 8:30 am. Meet at the Kiosk near the east entrance.-Craig and Kris

April 16, 2019: Cedar Valley Nature Trail: At least 3 FOY (first of the year) Brown Thrashers, lots of singing Eastern Meadowlarks, FOY Field Sparrow, Yellow-shafted Flicker, Yellow-rumped Warbler.

April 14, 2019: Hickory Hills: It was kinglets, kinglets and more kinglets today at Hickory Hills. Both Gold and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were in abundance today. Also, FOY Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Hermit Thrush, and a few lingering Fox Sparrows, Wood Ducks and a Common Loon were also observed.

At a home in Buchanan County, 2 Eurasian Tree Sparrows have been continuous visitors to the feeders both on April 13th and April 14th.

An Eurasian Tree Sparrow was also seen at a feeder in Butler County. This is also a continuing bird.

April 13, 2019: Crane Count, Sweet Marsh, Bremer County: At least 38 Sandhill Cranes were observed by 4 PRAS members who took part in the citizen science count sponsored by the International Crane Foundation based in Baraboo, Wisconsin. It is estimated that the final tally once all participants file reports will reflect a total of over 50 Sandhills. 30 species were observed during this count as well. There were  many Green and Blue-winged Teal. Wilson Snipe, Trumpeter Swans, Pelicans, and Bald Eagles, are among the species sighted. It was very calm weather and a beautiful sunrise.

Another PRAS birder reported a juvenile Golden Eagle was also seen at Sweet Marsh.

April 6, 2019: Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were among the birds seen on the field trip to Big Marsh.

April 3, 2019: 1st Wednesday Morning Birding field trip of the season! Good Day, our PRAS Wednesday Morning birding started this morning when we birded the Big Woods area in Cedar Falls. 17 birders birded 2.58 miles (measured by Tom Schilke's left leg) around the lake. We enjoyed calm sunny day and a lot of good conversation amongst us as we watched a Common Loon, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Brown Creeper and Red-breasted Merganser as part of the 35 speciesOur next outing will be 10 April at George Wyth. - Craig/Kris Rash

April 3, 2019: At Greenbelt Lake, there were 2 pair of Ring-necked Ducks vocalizing, eight Pied-billed Grebes, a Hermit Thrush, several Fox Sparrows, three Gold-crowned Kinglets, and 2 drake Blue-winged Teal and one hen. Plus, there is a sizeable Beaver lodge that is now visible on the north shore. 
Beaver Lodge at Greenbelt Lake, Waterloo, Iowa    Photo by C. Havely

April 1, 2019: Red-breasted Mergansers and Double-crested Cormorants were the notable birds at Hickory Hills, in Tama County. March 31, 2019: The Osprey is back on its nesting platform on the cell tower in Cedar Falls!

March 29, 2019: Common Loons were spotted at Big Woods Lake and George Wyth S.P.

March 18, 2019: A quick stop Sunday at the parking pad off Hwy 14 at Big Marsh with binocs only. Many Greater White-fronted Geese (2000). Also pintails, goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead and eagles occasionally stirring them up. Lapland Longspurs on Hwy 14 just south of intersection with C-55. Lots of water flowing or standing.

The Varied Thrush at 9 Winter Ridge Road in Waterloo has been seen again. It has been a visitor at the Cooley residence since January 2nd.  Those wishing to see it may still have good chance with some patience, but please be respectful of the homeowner's property.

March 16, 2019: Eastern Bluebirds were out and about at Hickory Hills and a Great Horned Owl was seen being mobbed by a murder of crows. 

March 14, 2019: A Northern Saw-whet Owl was deposited on the front step of a local home...a casualty of a house cat. House cats kill between 2.4 billion birds per year. Learn how to protect birds from cats; try and convince others to adopt these strategies.

March 13, 2019: A Brown Creeper has been observed both yesterday and today.

March 12, 2019: Members at our PRAS progam reported seeing Robins in their yard; others have seen Great Blue Herons and Pileated Woodpeckers. Also a Snowy Owl was believed to have been observed about 2-2.5 miles north of Traer. Keep your eyes out if you are in that area and let us know if you also see the Snowy Owl!

March 10, 2019: A Red-breasted Nuthatch was enjoying collecting suet at the feeder today. I also heard and saw two mature Bald Eagles circling over the neighborhood. - CH

March 8, 2019: A Merlin had captured what looked to be a Mourning Dove. It was interesting to see it plucking its prey. It retreated with its lunch to the neighbor's roof and continued defeathering. - CH

March 6, 2019: Five Grey Partridge and several Ring-necked Pheasants were foraging along different stretches of Dysart Road. Upon getting back to the house there was a Brown Creeper at my feeders! 

February 27, 2019: The Varied Thrush at 9 Winter Ridge Road in Waterloo has been seen off and on for the last three days.  A photo of the same bird was taken in the neighborhood on Jan. 2nd.  It has been a visitor at the Cooley residence since Feb. 12th.  Those wishing to see it may still have good chance with some patience and warm clothes. 

The nearby Hartman Reserve Nature Center will be having their annual Maple Syrup Festival this weekend serving pancakes from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday March 2 and 3.  
February 26, 2019: The Varied Thrush in Waterloo was seen again.

February 25, 2019: Two Tree Sparrows and 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch were among my feeder birds after the blizzard on Sunday. - CH

A continuing Eurasian Tree Sparrow is being observed in Buchanan County.

February 18, 2019: A Varied Thrush has been seen at a backyard bird feeder near Hartman Reserve. The homeowners are amenable to birders visiting to try and see the bird. If you are intereted in seeing the bird, email and more specific information about the exact location will be shared. Also, a Barred Owl has taken up residence in a hollow section of a tall tree just north of the feeder where the thrush is being observed. Several White-throated Sparrows were coming to the feeder and Pine Siskins were heard ‘zipping” in the woods.  

Hartman Reserve Nature Center is close by.  A new, well stocked, system of bird feeders (17 in all) is now open for viewing from the library or exhibit room inside or outside as well.  The usual array of 12-14 bird species have been coming to the feeders including several good looking N. Flickers.    

A couple of Carolina Wrens made it through the Vortex.  Last week one entered the building through an open window (to air out construction fumes) and lit in the display tree.  The next day one got inside again and made it over to the kitchen.  Both birds were safely captured and released.  
February 16, 2019: A Cooper's Hawk chasing juncos was my first bird observed for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Later, birding and snowshoeing at Hickory Hills yielded two Bald Eagles, chickadees, cardinals, woodpeckers (Red-bellied and Downy) and four Wild Turkeys along the bison enclosure and the resident Red-tailed Hawk on its sentinel post near the entrance. At Greenbelt Lake, I saw very few birds, but a little mouse was scampering around the base of one of the trees that a saw whet owl has been known to perch in.  Don't know why the little guy was out that time of day. CH

February 12, 2019: Eurasian Tree Sparrows are continuing to be observed at feeders in Buchanan and Butler Counties. These birds are expanding their range and can often be seen with the ubiquitous House Sparrows. Look closely at your sparrows and see if you might be entertaining Eurasian Tree Sparrows to!  If you do see one, file an ebird report or email  Dr. Jesse Ellis at Coe College is collecting data for his research on the distribution of this species in the U.S.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (left) with brown head and black ear patch; House Sparrow (right), gray crown, large black throat patch.

February 9, 2019: While out doing my Audubon bluebird survey, it was a raptor kind of day. I had a flyover by a Bald Eagle, Red-tail Hawks in several location and a female Northern Harrier! After I got home from The Scoop getting more black oil sunflower seeds, I had a Cooper's Hawk fly over and perch across the street. Sufficient to say, the birds in the backyard retreated. I've had my Red-breasted Nuthatch continuing, with juncos, my Downy Woodpecker and an occasional Mourning Dove, in addition to cardinals, WB Nuthatch and House Finch. The wind has knocked down more limbs, so I will add those to the brush pile I have near the feeders...birds may need more shelter since the Cooper's Hawk is in the neighborhood.- CH

January 28, 2019: Eurasian Tree Sparrows were reported on eBird on checklists from Buchanan and Butler counties.

January 26-27, 2019: Several Short-eared Owls have been seen north and south of Hickory Hills Park in Tama County along 62nd street. 

January 26, 2019: A Brown Creeper came to my platform feeder in the backyard. - CH

January 23, 2019:
Last Friday, January 18th, five Short-eared Owls were observed at Fairbank Fen in Northwest Buchanan County. The long lane to the prairie is not plowed, so be wary of driving down there with the snow.

January 21, 2019: Fifteen individuals enjoyed the MLK Day field trip to Calkins Nature Center on Monday, Jan. 21st. Everyone enjoyed the great new exhibits at Calkins and the winter birding, with the Horned Lark being the most numerous species.

An Oregon Dark-eyed Junco was observed on Ford Road in Black Hawk County.

January 19, 2019: A Red-breasted Nuthatch was feeding on suet in the backyard along with Dark-eyed Juncos, chickadees, House Finch and a White-breasted Nuthatch. C.H.

January 18, 2019: A juvenile Double-Crested Comorant was seen at Brinker Lake at George Wyth State Park. Cackling Geese and a possible Barrow's Goldeneye were also observed at this location.

January 10, 2019: I was birding my favorite spot in Charles City, Riverside Cemetery. I enjoyed watching a pair of Lesser Scaup diving ducks on a Cedar River backwater pond. I know it is a first for me on January 10th as that pond is usually frozen this time of year! S.L.

January 1, 2019: A Snowy Owl was reported and verified in Hardin County.  Always be respectful of this species and be discreet in sharing locations when you observe these owls and any roosting/nesting owls for that matter. There is already at least one Snowy Owl in rehabilitation with SOAR (Saving Our Avian Resources) that was found in December.  

Dec. 25, 2018: Golden Eagle flew over at Cedar River Natural Resources Area, south of Gilbertville. Other highlights: Hermit Thrush, a Red-breasted Nuthatch and 12 White-throated Sparrows. Also at Riverview Recreation Area, there were 5 Song Sparrows 2 Swamp Sparrows and a White-crowned Sparrow. 

Dec. 22, 2018: Along US Highway 20, a Snowy Owl was seen on a bridge railing a few miles west of Owasa. 

Dec. 16, 2018: Heard a Ring-necked Pheasant at Brett Klima Wildlife Area this morning and enjoyed a really lovely sunrise; the light on the grasses was so beautiful. I was looking for possible Short-eared Owls, but no luck on that. I walked clear to the river area and there was a juvenile Bald Eagle and four river otters that were on a small island in the river. It was a nice way to start the day.  Then I went to Hickory Hills and saw quite a few Red-headed Woodpeckers and White-breasted Nuthatch.There were hunters out at Hickory Hills and gunfire could be heard. Be careful if you are out and about in hunting areas...wear blaze orange and be safe. - CH

Brett Klima Wildlife Area - December 16, 2018 - Morning light; no edits or enhancements done. Photo taken on cell phone.

Dec. 15, 2018: Bremer County Christmas Bird Count: 
Ten birders completed Christmas count in Bremer County and there were a few surprises--a Dickcissel & a Gray Catbird were observed! Northern Shrike, Rough-legged Hawk and dark morph Red-Tailed Hawk, Great Blue Heron and Canvasback were also notable birds.  Thanks to all who participated. Remember the Waterloo-CF Xmas Count is scheduled for Dec. 22nd. 

Dec. 1, 2018: A Tundra Swan was seen among 43 Trumpeter Swans on Brinker Lake at George Wyth State Park.

An Eurasian Tree Sparrow has been seen routinely in Greene, Iowa in Butler County.

Nov. 21, 2018: Five male Ring-necked Pheasants were seen feeding in a field bordering Hickory Hills. Two Trumpeter Swans were near all of the Canada Geese. It looks like the loan Am. White Pelica might have moved on. A Brown Creeper and a nice flock of Cedar Waxwings were also observed.

Nov. 20, 2018: Five Common Goldeneye (one drake) were at Greenbelt Lake.

Nov. 19, 2018: The Long-Tailed Duck was seen at Wyth Lake again today.

Nov. 18, 2018: A Long-Tailed Duck was seen on Wyth Lake at George Wyth State Park by several PRAS birders today. The last observation of the duck was at 3:00 p.m. today. Also seen at Geo. Wyth were: Red-shouldered Hawk, Bufflehead, Pied-billed Grebe, and flyovers by: 8 Trumpeter Swans, 13 Sandhill Cranes and 1 Bald Eagle. The bird blind was hopping with activity to. -C.H.

Nov. 17, 2018: Despite the snow, I had a nice day of birding. Mid-morning at Greenbelt Lake, I spied the new "Bird Friendly Iowa" sign that was recently installed. (See photo below). A Red-breasted Nuthatch, Saw-whet Owl (thanks for the help Bill S.!), Hooded Mergansers,Trumpeter Swans, a Bald Eagle, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk (sitting in a tree in the parking lot!) indeed made Greenbelt live up to its new "Bird Friendly" label!  Later in the afternoon, I birded at Hickory Hills and best birds were 2 Trumpeter Swans, and 1 lone Pelican on the ice with the Canada Geese.  At home I have had a White-crowned Sparrow coming to my feeder. - C.H.

Greenbelt Lake - Waterloo, Iowa   Photo by Candace Havely

Nov. 11, 2018: Looked at Greenbelt Lake (Waterloo) and Hickory Hills (Tama County) for Saw-whet Owls but didn't find any. At Hickory Hills notable birds:

Pair of Trumpeter Swans
3 Bufflehead (2f/1m)
Pair of American Wigeon
Lots of White-throated Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
Eastern Bluebirds 

In the afternoon I went to Fontana Interpretative Nature Center near Hazelton, Iowa to see Iowa Young Birder, Coralee Bodeker's excellent display Save Iowa Nesters. It was wonderful; it was hard to choose just one bird to take a selfie with. Check out more information about this exhibit on Prairie Rapids Audubon's home page,  - C.H. 

PRAS Secretary Candace Havely - Nov 11, 2018

Display at Fontana Nature Center; not pictured - Cerulean Warbler, Red-headed Woodpecker and Barn Owl.

Nov. 9, 2018: We are enjoying the abundance of red breasted nuthatches at our feeders. We saw our first Pine Siskins this morning. We should have a great season of winter birding thanks to a shortage of pine & birch seeds in forests to our north. - S.L.

Nov. 2, 2018: An Eurasian Tree Sparrow was seen among a flock of House Sparrows. Plus, a Pileated Woodpecker was spotted in the backyard. - K.H.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Photo by Ken Heiar

Oct. 29, 2018: Today I saw a FOY (first of the year) juvenile GOLDEN EAGLE soaring over my work site at Warren Transport  (n.e. site), which is located on the northeast outskirts of Waterloo. - T.S. 

Oct. 24, 2018: Good day, 14 PRAS members met and birded 3.4  miles of the lower bike trail through Hartman Reserve.  No mosquitoes, calm and very sunny.  It was great to be out birding and the 32 birds sighted.  The Red-Shouldered Hawk was in flight calling and after recognition of the Red-Breasted Nuthatch's call, we were able to locate it high in a cottonwood.  Continue to review the web site for field trips.  Weather permitting we may list one for next week. Continue to enjoy birding. - Craig and Kris

Oct. 21, 2018: Only one Pelican was seen on the lake today. A mature Bald Eagle was soaring above. Back on the Overlook Trail I had 3 Red-breasted Nuthatches, each in different spots on the trail. Lots of Kinglets, a Red-headed Woodpecker were also pretty good birds. - C.H. 

Oct 19, 2018: A pair of Gadwall, and a pair of Bufflehead were on the lake at Hickory Hills, along with the Canada Geese and the two pelicans. - C.H.

October 17, 2018: A Red-breasted Nuthatch was enjoying suet today at my feeder. - C.H.

October 16, 2018: Two pelicans were lounging on the shore with the Canada Geese at Hickory Hills today; it was weird to see them on shore with the geese! Other birds: 1 male Ruddy Duck, 1 male Hooded Merganser, 5 Mallards, 4 Lesser Scaup, 2 Pied-billed Grebe, 2 Belted Kingfishers, 4 Wild Turkeys. - C.H.

October 15, 2018: A Nashville Warbler was seen at Hartman Reserve. - D.E.
Yesterday I stopped to eat lunch at Legacy Wildlife Area in the parking lot off D15 5 miles east of Iowa Falls in Hardin Co.  The snow had melted, the wind was strong, and the large expanse of water was covered with waterfowl.  Looked like spring migration. Not having my scope I walked down for a closer look.  A Western Grebe was actively feeding. (only got three quick looks)  A couple of N. Harriers were keeping things stirred up.  Very active place - wish I had come better prepared to bird.  Next time. - Tom Schilke

October 13, 2018: A small flock of American Avocets were seen at Prairie Lakes. -D.E.

A Greater-white Fronted Goose and a Black-throated Green Warbler were seen at Sweet Marsh. -C. & K. R.

October 11, 2018: Two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were seen at a feeder in Greene, located in Butler County. One bird chased the other from the feeder. - B.B.

October 8, 2018: After not seeing a hummingbird since Oct 3rd, one just appeared at the feeder today. - R.S.

A Bay-breasted Warbler was seen at Hartman Reserve in Cedar Falls. - T.S.

October 7, 2018: A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still coming to my nectar feeders in the backyard. - C.H.

October 4, 2018: A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird was observed feeding twice in the early evening in the backyard. I had just refilled my nectar feeders with fresh solution and the hummingbird spent at least 4 minutes just drinking during one of its visits to the feeder. Pretty cool...she flies off towards my neighbor's hedge when she leaves the feeder, so she is finding shelter. Also, a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet dropped in to eat the suet crumbs at the base of the tree. - C.H.

October 3, 2018: Good Day. Many birders went to sleep last night fully expecting to see a cancellation for our Wednesday Morning birding this morning. It was not canceled and 12 birders attended our one mile birding of Big Woods Lake, the east side, and 19 species as listed below were sighted on the 2 hour walk.  We saw many Northern Flickers and Cedar Waxwings.  One of those outings you expected to see many Hawks and Warblers in migration, but we sighted very few. Check the website for next week's Wednesday birding. Hopefully, we will be at  Waterloo's Greenbelt Lake of Martin Road. - C.R.

Another hummingbird was spotted in a local yard. - A.O.

September 30, 2018: Hummingbirds are still coming to my feeders in Waterloo. - R.S.
September 29, 2018: Today I enjoyed some good birding from the backyard deck and saw a dark morph BROAD-WINGED HAWK in a group of 5 flying by single file. It's only the second one I've seen. Other birds in the yard were, 3 R.B. NUTHATCHES, a BLUE-HEADED VIREO, and 5 species of warblers. -W'loo T.S.

September 27, 2018: A male BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER this afternoon, near the north side of Martin Lake  (Greenbelt Lake ). - T.S.

Along the Cedar Valley Bike Trail this afternoon there were 10 Great Egrets; 8 were in a group east of the trail just a bit past the bench numbered 17 Q 75, about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile south of the Gilbertville Depot, just past the paddocks where the cattle are on the east side of the trail.  Also, saw a Broad-winged Hawk with a garter snake in its talons. The bird flew and perched in a tree, I had binocs on and was able to ID the snake. Beautiful bird. - C. H.

September 26, 2018: Good Day, this morning was just perfect. Not much wind, cool, dry paths, and much sunshine for 11 PRAS members to enjoy birding the Hickory Hills Park.  And we did.  Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Yellow-Throated Vireo, Orange Crown Warbler and Broad-Winged Hawk are just some of the 43 species seen.  And  very few mosquitoes were present. We took  plenty of time to observe many species along the walk and even to point out the full moon setting in the West. Planning on birding Big Woods next Wednesday morning, but check the web site in case of a last minute change. Take time to check out the Chimney Swifts in your area, otherwise go to Denver, IA, the site across from Kwik Star around 7:15-7:30 pm. - Craig Rash

This morning I saw a migrating N. GOSHAWK soaring over my work site at Warren Transport  (n.e. site). It was likely a female, as it was a rather large and every bit as big as the resident R.T. Hawks in the area. - T.S.

September 22, 2018: This bird, with the strong white cheek patch, has been seen for a couple days at a feeder here in Waterloo.  It is a Java Sparrow, also known as a Java Finch, which are plentiful birds on the Big Island in Hawaii where they are an introduced species. It is a popular caged bird. As the name suggests, this bird is a resident breeding bird in Java, Bali, and Bawean in Indonesia. Thanks to the couple who reported this interesting find! You never know what you may find at your feeders!  Which is a nice segway to our Oct 9th, 2018 program titled, "Build it and they will come..." by Jim Durbin who will talk about how you can create wonderful habitat in your own yard for birds.
Java Sparrow seen at Pam & Bill N.'s feeder in Waterloo, IA
September 12, 2018 - 1st WMB (Wednesday Morning Birding): Good day, 25 species were sighted during our Wednesday Morning PRAS birding of the UNI Wetlands.  This was our first time birding this wetland and I am confident individuals will return on their own to bird again.The paths were well maintained and easy to navigate. Great habitat and parking is provided. Easy place for locals to bird this fall. Take a friend. Check our website to confirm next Wednesday's birding location.  Currently it is at the Bird Blind area of George Wyth State Park.  See you there.
Craig Rash

September 11, 2018: A Red-shouldered Hawk was calling and two Wild Turkeys and a Great Blue Heron were observed on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. One Great Egret was seen along Gilbertville Road. -CH

September 9, 2018: Birded at Hickory Hills again this morning. Much of the same birds as yesterday.  Lots of Cedar Waxwings, warblers, but also heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch and saw a family of Wild Turkeys. I went to Rowley Fen late in the morning and saw another PRAS member...check out the photos on his blog...they are amazing. The Fringed Gentian were abundant and I even found the Bottle Gentian. The wildflowers were lovely and the day was perfect; the fen is a wonder. In the pine trees next to the parking lot there were two Red-breasted Nuthatches and two Palm Warblers, there habit of tail pumping gave them away. They nest in boggy areas, so it was easy to see why Rowley's Fen might have looked like a nice place to rest and feed. - CH.

September 8, 2018: At Hickory Hills in Tama County there were lots of warblers (mostly American Redstarts, Tennessee, Chestnut-Sided, a Canada Warbler, Ovenbirds, Swainson's Thrushes and a Veery was seen and heard (it was doing it's "veer" call). A Red-shouldered Hawk and Spotted Sandpiper was also seen. Plus, there were about 85 American White Pelicans on the lake when I arrived. Later the pelicans took wing and circled a bit overhead in their squadrons. I also birded Union Grove State Park and found much of the same warblers and thrushes, plus a Spotted Sandpiper and Cape May Warbler. - CH

September 7, 2018: One to four Great Egrets have been seen in the high water areas along Gilbertville Road, east of Washburn.

September 1, 2018: This morning I was able to squeeze in a little birding in between the rains. Warblers were few and widely scattered throughout the park, but eventually I was rewarded with an ad. female BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER, near the loop parking lot at Alice Wyth Lake. There was also a, m. GOLDEN-WINGED W. and a BLACKPOLL. At Brinker lake, 4 CASPIAN TERNS and a half dozen BLACK TERNS.-T.S.

August 30, 2018:  Barred Owl flew in front of me on the Cedar Valley Bike trail this evening. Beautiful!  Twice during the last two weeks an Osprey has been seen fishing over one of the ponds at Hawkeye CC - C.H.

August 25, 2018:  It's been an exceptional summer for this species in Black Hawk Co. This morning I discovered a family of 6 BLUE GROSBEAKS on the the northwest side of Brinker Lake in George Wyth S.P. An ad. male and female with 4 juveniles. They have been recorded in 6 different locations now this summer. This is the first evidence of nesting in Blackhawk co. I've seen. - T.S.

August 24, 2018: A singing Carolina Wren was heard along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, just south of the firing range. - CH

July 24, 2018: Tuesday evening I did a long walk around Legacy Wildlife area on Hwy. D15 east of Iowas Falls.  The second year prairie areas are developing nicely.  The water is right up against the reeds.  The best area for shorebirds is in the NE corner.  Some highlights:

Forster’s tern - 1
Yellow-headed blackbird - 1 FOY
Red-headed blackbird  - 210 (think I missed a couple)
Redhead - 1
Sedge wren - 6
Marsh wren - 3
Bobolink -2
Upland Sandpiper - 1
Wilson’s Phalarope - 2
Lesser Yellowlegs - 10
Gr. Yellowlegs - 1
Solitary Sandpiper - 1
PB Grebes - 3
Grasshopper and Savanah sparrows

Waves of Canada wild rye.  

 Tom Schilke - Waterloo

July 22, 2018:  At Sweet Marsh some notables were, a LEAST BITTERN and an adult YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD with several juveniles.They have been scarce east of I-35 this year. And there were some shorebirds on the southeast side in the limited habitat. Notables were, an AM.GOLDEN PLOVER a Wilson's PHALAROPE and 2 BAIRD'S Sandpipers. At Aldo Leopold there was a 1st summer BLUE GROSBEAK along 240th st. about a 100 yards or so east of Timber rd. intersection. I also saw a GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE. - T.S.

July 17, 2018: Yesterday, a male BLUE GROSBEAK made an appearance in my parents yard, who live on the outskirts of town and have some nice habitat. And this morning a male was singing on North Elk Run Rd.- T.S.

July 8, 2018: While boating on Brinker Lake at George Wyth State Park, I came across a pair of Least Terns that were flying around the lake. Eventually, they both landed on the floating barrier. I didn’t have my camera with me but I got close enough to the floating barrier with the boat that I was able to get diagnostic pictures. Still present as of 2:10 p.m. - C.L.

July 7, 2018: Acadian Flycatchers seen at Hickory Hills, Tama County. T.S.

June 23, 2018: Later this morning I walked The Cedar Hills Sand Prairie on  Butler Road in Black Hawk Co. NW of Cedar Falls for bugs and blooms.  Those were lacking, but the birds were a surprise.  30 species - some highlights:

Yellow breasted Chat - in the aspens and brush in the SE corner
Blue Grosbeak - mostly near the gate - taunting me.  flushed from the prairie, sang from the tall tree, flew over my car, posed with a cardinal that had a partial crest that looked like a fan, finally got a pic.  

Henslow’s sparrow - 2 north of the gate 
Bell’s Vireos - 3  getting to be lots of brush - shall we call this spot “Cedar Hills Brush Prairie?”
Orchard Oriole - agitated - north of gate in brush along the sensitive ferns
Sandhill Crane - may be nesting east of the prairie (fitting name)
Willow Flycatcher - 2
Tick - 1  I killed it - sorry tick enthusiasts

Tom Schilke - Waterloo

June 11, 2018: Birded with S. S. at Greenbelt Lake where we saw a Common Loon in non-breeding plumage. Then we got to see and S.S. photographed not one, but two Yellow-billed Cuckoos! One was located back in the woods on the trail along the creek and the second one we heard and saw in a tree on the edge of the parking lot. Both cuckoos were vocalizing. Also seen, multiple Indigo Buntings, R.B. Grosbeak, Cedar Waxwings, and other woodland birds. We finished the night by going to the area behind the medical spa off Ridgeway to see the Bald Eagle nest. Saw and heard 1 adult and 1 juvenile eagle. - C.H.

June 10, 2018: A Northern Mockingbird has been observed foraging mulberries in the La Porte City area. 

Northern Mockingbird  Photo by Kenneth Heiar
June 10, 2018: Eastern Bluebirds were observed at 3 of my survey points today in the block near Gilbertville. This survey is National Audubon's Climate Watch survey and members of PRAS survey different blocks in January and June for Eastern Bluebirds. I didn't see the Blue Grosbeak that had been reported a couple weeks ago at one of my survey points, but I did have a calling Yellow-billed Cuckoo at one of the points off the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. - Candace Havely

June 7, 2018:  Rode the Cedar Valley Nature Trail from the Evansdale bridge to mile marker 8 and back.  On the way back I had two Lark Sparrows, finally, near the gun range and a Bell's Vireo, finally, east of the road that starts with a W near a set aside habitat patch. -T.S.

June 5, 2018: I spent the morning tromping around White Pine Hollow State Preserve in Dubuque Co. near Luxemburg, mostly sitting and following rocky creek beds.  Flash floods have really carved the creek beds and east road since my last trip a couple of years ago.  Nice morning in the shade and very few bugs.  Some highlights:

Acadian Flycatcher - 7
Louisiana Waterthrush - 4
Veery - 2
Scarlet Tananger
YT Vireo - 2
Pileated woodpecker
Wood Thrush
RT Hummingbird - 4, one on a nest

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Bob White Quail - not in the preserve, but the calls echo down the valleys
Rough-winged swallow - none
Minnows - only one species seen, usually more species
Yeti tracks - human size, near a package of tuna, two forks and a knife.

Tom Schilke - Waterloo

May 31, 2018: Yellow-throated Warbler was seen by several PRAS members at the Group Campground just inside Black Hawk Park in the big oak tree by the staked picnic tables. A Great Creasted Flycatcher was in the sycamore tree next to it.  S.G.

Yellow-throated Warbler- Black Hawk Park - Photo by Scott Garrett

May 30, 2018: Western Kingbirds were seen by the main building of a local business in Waterloo. These birds seem to expanding their range, but they are generally uncommon in the part of the state.

May 30, 2018: Good day, the last PRAS Wednesday Morning birding field trip for the spring was led by Craig and Kris Rash.  We sighted 36 species. Special sighting of the Barred Owl and Yellow-billed Cuckoo were good for those wanting to take pictures. The old axiom of finding the rare species in the parking lot still holds.  Francis Moore sighted the Scarlet Tanager at the parking lot. Kris even pointed out some Monarch caterpillars on a milkweed plant. We watched a snapping turtle cross the railroad tracks.  The climb over one of the rails was worth the wait. Review our field trips listed on our web page for future birding opportunities; as some of you may get an urge to go explore on your own. Otherwise we will plan on birding with you this fall. Thanks for participating. Craig and Kris Rash

May 28, 2018: Yesterday, for the third year, a singing Yellow-throated Warbler was located in the group campground just inside the entrance to Black Hawk Park. In the past it has been seen in the sycamore tree. Yesterday it preferred some dead branches in the top of a tree located in the vicinity of the pit toilet. - D.E.

May 28, 2018: This morning, there were 2 YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS at Cedar River N.R.A. near Washburn. Both were very vocal. One was north of the gun range in field overgrown with shrubs. The other was singing from a conspicuous perch in a dead tree along a hedge row,and could be heard from the road. Other birds in the area were, a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, an ALDER FLYCATCHER. and a PROTHONOTARY WARBLER.

May 27, 2018: This morning, a BLUE GROSBEAK was singing along Little Rd. just southeast of Gilbertville in Black Hawk County. This is the same location one was last year, which is about 1/8th mile from the dead end. Tom Stone Sr. had a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD later, but didn't see the Grosbeak. Yesterday I also saw a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, at Aldo Leopold W.A. in Bremer County. - T.S.

May 23, 2018: Good day, 12 PRAS members birded the Goldfinch Trail which is part of Waterloo's Robinson Bird Sanctuary for 2.5 hours this morning. 32 bird species, a raccoon and many mosquitoes were felt and sighted during our birding.  We enjoyed many opportunities to hear and see the Yellow-billed Cuckoo and took time to watch the Raccoon high in a tree near it's nest. Plan on attending next Wednesday as we bird the Cedar Falls Beaver Lake and Railroad Lake area on Union Road. This will be our final Wednesday Morning Birding field trip for the season. - Craig

May 22, 2018: White-faced Ibis was seen near the George Wyth entrance where 218 and Broadway intersect.

May 16, 2018: Good day, 16 PRAS members birded Hickory Hills Park this morning.  55 species were sighted including a female Cape May Warbler and some additional looks at a Green Heron. Plan to attend our next Wednesday birding at Robinson Bird Sanctuary in Waterloo.

May 14, 2018: Saw a Blanding's Turtle crossing the road when I got to Hickory Hills (Tama County), that was a good sign. My hike on the West Paha Trail was really relaxing...quiet, a full of birds. Lots of warblers, most of them redstarts, Magnolia and Wilson's. Bobolinks and numerous grosbeaks and catbirds. Candace H.

May 13, 2018: A birder from the Iowa City area birded Butler County today and discovered what PRAS members already know...there's great birding in Butler County.  Here is his report: I decided to work on a Butler County list today, with a goal of 100 species.
I had a crazy good day and ended with 137 species in about 8 hours.

I spent the morning at Heery Woods State Park, which straddles the Shell
Rock River near Clarksville (which according to the sign is the home of
American Idol finalist Maddie Poppe).  There aren't a lot of facilities at
the park, but what a beautiful woods!  Warblers were abundant and I tallied
20 species.  Highlights:
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 1
Veery 3
Gray-cheeked Thrush 4
Pine Warbler 1
Mourning Warbler 3
Large numbers of Ovenbirds, Common Yellowthroats, American Redstarts,
Magnolia Warblers, and Chestnut-sided Warblers.

In Allison I found Pine Siskins and Eurasian Collared-Doves.

I spent the afternoon at Big Marsh.  There's good shorebird habitat west of
Hwy. 14 but a scope is necessary.  Highlights:
Snowy Egret 1
American Avocet 1
Black-bellied Plover 1
Hudsonian Godwit 8
Stilt Sandpiper 11
Sanderling 1
Dunlin 52
White-rumped Sandpiper 1
Wilson's Phalarope 10
Peregrine Falcon 1
Sedge Wren 2
American Pipit 2
Henslow's Sparrow 2
Lingering Greater White-fronted, Snow, and Ross's Geese.
Large numbers of Northern Waterthrushes, Common Yellowthroats, American
Redstarts, and Yellow Warblers.
One of the largest Cliff Swallow colonies I've ever seen.

I finished the day with a pair of Gray Partridges, Vesper Sparrow, and Lark
Sparrow along gravel roads west of Shell Rock. - C.E.

May 13, 2018: After the rain and a nap I drove over to Legacy WA (Hardin County) to see what might be showing up. Some highlights:

Legacy - walk around
Black-bellied Plover - 1
Am. Golden Plover -  7
White-rumped SP - 3
Semi-palmated Plover - 6
Dunlin - 27
Short-billed Dowitcher - 9
Bobolink - 2
Grasshopper Sparrow - 5

Pintail - 45 minutes on the tower
Franklin’s Gull - 1
Black Tern - 3
Ruddy Turnstone - 5
Red - necked Phalarope - 4
White-fronted Goose - 1
Dowitcher- 3
Dunlin - 1
Sedge Wren - 1

Didn’t find the Great tailed Grackle or any yellow headed blackbirds.

Tom Schilke - Waterloo

May 13, 2018:  We saw seven black-crowned night herons and redhead ducks during "Marsh Migrations" today at Sweet Marsh. - K.L.

May 13, 2018: I did see 5 Baltimore Orioles at my suet last week AM and then 2 days later I saw 2 again.  I do have grape jelly out on the patio ledge but I was not there to know if they went to it.  Also a Indigo Bunting last week once.  Just unusual for me on an acreage just outside of Grundy Center. - Bobby Jo P.

May 12, 2018: Our PRAS team of 13  birders spent 10 hours at Sweet Marsh today and sighted 114 speciesWe were dressed for the cold temperatures  and tried to stay out of the wind.  Although all species are fun to observe, the Cape May, Prothonotary, and Blue-winged warblers were a great find.  This concluded our scheduled 2018 Bird A Thon field trips. -Craig Rash
Swamp Sparrow - Sweet Marsh, May 12, 2018  Photo by Bruce Plakke

Blackburnian Warbler - Sweet Marsh, May 12, 2018  Photo by Bruce Plakke
May 11, 2018: 4 Baltimore Orioles, 3 male Rose-breasted Grosbeak with two females and the Scarlet Tanager just showed up. - V.S.

May 9, 2018: Wednesday Morning-Bird-A-Thon Field Trip, Greenbelt Lake: Good day, 25 participants observed 61 species during our 2 hour PRAS Wednesday Morning birding at Greenbelt Lake.  Thanks to representatives of the Waterloo Courier and City government for attending our field trip and recognizing the support for Waterloo's Bird Friendly Iowa designation, during Waterloo's Bird Appreciation Week as proclaimed by Waterloo Mayor, Quentin Hart. Notable birds seen:Black-throated Green, Chestnut-sided, Yellow and Wilson's Warblers; Ruddy Duck, Spotted Sandpiper, American Redstart and a very cooperative Green Heron. In fact, the Green Heron was especially spectacular for viewing (it posed) for photographs, showing various postures, which was very interesting to see. Some of these sightings may be included in an article in the Courier this week. Plan on attending next Wednesday's morning birding field trip at Hickory Hills. See details on the Field Trips page.

Afternoon Field Trip, Greenbelt Lake: Thirteen birders saw 57 species during the afternoon Bird-A-Thon field trip at Greenbelt Lake today. Notable birds include really cooperative and numerous Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, the Green Heron (likely the bird observed in the morning) and the BIRD OF THE DAY was a COMMON NIGHTHAWK, spotted by a young woman who had the keenest eye of the group! This was an awesome bird to see...thanks L. for spotting this very cleverly camoflauged bird. (See photo below).
Common Nighthawk, Greenbelt Lake, Waterloo, IA  Photo courtesy of Mike Tompkins
May 8, 2018: The male Summer Tanager is still present east of the nature center at 5. The female is presumably around too. Today the male is further east than he was yesterday. He’s currently calling from the ravine at the bottom of the stairs. - C.L.

May 8, 2018: Tom Stone Sr. reports a male HOODED WARBLER at Hartman Reserve which was seen about a half hour ago. It was between the ravine and " Lucy's meadow west of the nature center.

May 7, 2018: Tom Stone Sr. reports seeing 2 CATTLE EGRETS, off of Diagonal Rd. near the storage units in Waterloo.

Tom Schilke and Candace Havely also saw the three Cattle Egrets on Diagonal Rd. There was a lingering Bufflehead on the pond to the west.  Candace and Tom also birded Riverview Park after dinner and had some nice species, including Green Heron, Marsh Wren, and Gadwall.

May 6, 2018: Today, I stopped at Big Marsh and the water level went quite a bit since yesterday. Still some shorebirds, but mostly Yellowlegs and Pectoal Sandpipers. Only notable shorebirds were, several small flocks of GOLDEN PLOVER.,50+ WILSON'S PHALAROPES and DOWITCHERS SPECIES that were too distant to i.d. I then went to Legacy Wetland and met up with Tom Stone Sr and Tom Schilke, where we enjoyed a nice assortment of shorebirds, 19 species tallied.
Some of the notables were:1-AM.AVOCET
1-RED-NECKED PHALAROPE - [Another rare sighting --

- Tommy Stone

May 5, 2018: A Winter Wren and Magnolia Warbler was spotted at Hartman Reserve. -C.L.

May 5, 2018: This afternoon, I made a quick stop at Big Marsh and there was a WESTERN GREBE that I viewed from the parking lot off of U.S. h.w. 14 at the east end of the marsh. There were also 2 MARBLED GODWITS and a HUDSONIAN GODWIT that I scoped. At Legacy Wetland, there was an EARED GREBE. There wasn't alot of shorebirds but notables were, 5 GOLDEN PLOVERS and 2 WILSON'S PHALAROPES there were also several foy. BLACK TERNS. - T.S.  [Note: Western Grebes are seen almost every year, but this typically western species is always a great find here in Iowa.  Great sighting!]

May 5, 2018: Dave Eastman found a drake CINNAMON TEAL at Aldo Leopold W.A. and called me. I was already in that area and met up with him, and we relocated it. It is in the canal on the north side of H.W. C-50. You can probably see it from the shoulder by the bridge or walk trail near canal, but it was very skittish. Other notables in the area were, an AM.BITTERN, 8 W.PHALAROPES and 3 WHITE-RUMPLED S.  [Note: Cinnamon Teal is typically seen in the western United States, so this is a rare sighting as well...well done Dave! C.H.]

May 5, 2018: Earlier this morning I did a 2.25 mile hike around Legacy Wildlife Area starting from the east and later in the day a short walk around Pintail with good light behind me from the west. Really good birds. 48 species here alone.  Shorebirds are primarily along the shore.  Some highlights:

Eared Grebe
Upland Sandpiper - 2 - I think they will nest here
LeConte’s Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow - 7
Dickcissel - 3
Dowitchers - 19 - some long-billed by sound
W. Phalarope - 8
Am. Pipit - 2

Yellow Rail - jumped in the wet grass just a few feet away  [This is a really rare bird! - Excellent sighting Tom! - C.H.]
Willet - 3 - walked up on one and it bawled like a baby
Eared Grebe 
Am. Golden Plovers - 5
Meadowlark Nest - no eggs yet

Lunch at Calkins Nature Center
Carolina Wren - by the deer pen
Lincoln’s Sparrow - singing
YR warblers - a swarm along the creek

Pintail Wetlands - evening from the tower
Am. Bittern
W. Phalarope - 4

Tom Schilke - Waterloo

May 4, 2018: Thanks for the report J.Z. from Dike... In an email to PRAS today, JZ reports that on Tuesday, May 1st there were still 6 Common Loons and the Red-Throated Loon on the Grundy County Lake. The Red-Throated Loon is a really rare sighting as was first reported by Tommy Stone during one of our April snowstorms! How extraordinary that our friends in Dike had such an extended time observing the rare and common loons.

May 2, 2018: Prothonotary Warbler was seen in Hickory Hills Park today; it was feeding in a pond on the north end that has several dead trees in the water. It has been a good day in the backyard here, three male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and one female, a White-crowned Sparrow and the Orioles are at the jelly feeder. - K.H.

Prothonotary Warbler at Hickory Hills, Tama County  Photo by Kenneth Heiar

May 2, 2018: Wednesday Morning Birding: Some of our Wed. Morning Birding group drove to George Wyth State Park and sought and sighted the Prothonotary Warbler that had been sighted earlier this week. Here's what else we saw at that location. Good day, nine PRAS members birded the Hartman Reserve lower level for 2.5 hours this morning.  We sighted 42 species. Lots of frogs calling stressed our ability to hear often and many birds in the tops of the trees were a challenge.  Tom Moon, Brice Plakke and Tom Schilke were able to assist with sightings by taking pictures. Plan on attending next Wednesday morning when we bird Martin Lake in Waterloo. - Craig

May 2, 2018: Had a 15 warbler day plus a lot of other FOY around Waterloo.  Started early and didn’t want to come home - so I didn’t.  Some highlights:

Riverview Park - 25 of the 45 species seen there were before I left the parking lot.
Harris Sparrow
Clay colored Sparrows
Warbling Vireo
Least Flycacther

Lower Hartman Reserve
N. Parulas
RB Grosbeak
N. Waterthrush
C. Yellowthroat
GC Flycatcher

Geo.Wyth - west end on trails west of the bird blind parking lot 

Prairie Warbler - mixed in with Palms (got pics)
Prothonotary - looking at its reflection in the water
Pileated Woodpeckers - close watch on a female working on a log on the ground
YT Vireo

Tom Schilke - Waterloo
Prairie Warbler at George Wyth State Park  Photo by Tom Schilke
May 1, 2018: A quick walk this evening between sprinkles at Riverview Park at the east end of Mitchell Ave in Waterloo gave me views of some new arrivals for the year:-mostly right near the entrance:

Clay-colored sparrows - 6 mixed in with chippers
Indigo Bunting - bright male
Black and White warbler
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Gray tree frogs

Tom Schilke - Waterloo

May 1, 2018: Nesting ospreys are back in Independence!  Look for the nest on the cell phone tower along the north side of Highway 20, just east of the exit for Highway 150, behind Casey's truck parking lot.  Conservation volunteer Elaine Hughes is monitoring the nest and reporting data to Iowa DNR.  A previous nest was started on the cell tower in 2014, but last year the nest was gone.  

May 1, 2018: At George Wyth State Park, a Prothontary Warbler was seen by two PRAS members at different times. The bird was just east of the Alice Wyth Lake parking area along a bridge that goes over a small pond in the woods. Lots of Palm Warblers, and a Swainson's Thrush was also seen. Earlier in the day a male Hooded Warbler was among 12 different warbler species seen. Chestnut-sided Warblers and a Blackburnian Warbler were also seen and made the Iowa "rare" bird list for the early date for these sightings.

A lingering Canvasback at Prairie Lakes also made the Iowa "rare" bird list for this late date of observance. 

Female Tennessee Warblers and a lot of Ruby-crowned Kinglets were at Greenbelt Lake today. The Red-breasted Merganser females were still there as well as eight Pied-billed Grebes.

April 30, 2018: Golden-winged Warbler reported today on ebird by Alan and Karen Orr along the Trolley Car Trail/Castle Bluffs Park, Black Hawk, Iowa - Comments: "Yellow crown and wing patch dark mask".

At Greenbelt Lake an Osprey was soaring above the lake and 6 female Red-breasted Mergansers remained. - C.H.

April 27, 2018: This morning I did a 4 mile hike around Hickory Hills Park in Tama Co.  52 species including:
Cliff Swallow - FOY
Forster’s Terns - 2
White -faced ibis - 1  on edge of pond in the far north reconstructed prairie section next to the gravel road 115th off Hwy 21 near X.   It flew from the pond to a drainage next to the road.  Most birds are not wanting to fly far - strong winds.
Green Darner - 2
Pile of broad-wing hawk feathers surrounded by Snow Trillium.
Tom Schilke

April 26, 2018: This morning I checked Pintail and later Legacy Wetlands off Hwy. D15 in Hardin Co. where I met up with Dave Eastman.  Some highlights: 

Hundreds of light geese and W-Fronted - 160 of which were Ross’s 
Canada Geese with 6 goslings 
Am Tree Sparrow - 5 

Legacy - Dave and I walked and scoped most of it - together we had 37 species and some FOYs 
Upland Sandpiper 
Black-bellied Plover - 4 
Godwit sp. (dang wind) 
Smith’s Longspur - one good looking male 
probable Lapland longspurs - 7 with butt views 
E and W meadowlarks - many all over 
Horned Grebe 
Sav., Vesper, Swamp, Am. Tree sparrows 
Some G. and L. yellowlegs and Pectorals, snipe 

The most productive for sparrows, longspurs, and shorebirds is the far north edge where short vegetation is damp. 

Stopped at Blackmon Prairie for pasque flowers but a large crew was burning the middle section today.   

Tom Schilke - Waterloo 

April 25, 2018: Five members of the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society trekked down from Waterloo to Pleasant Creek SRA in Linn Co. yesterday (4-25) to see the Red-throated loon which spent most of its time out in the center of the lake looking quite distant but it did drift closer to the road by the dam where I took this image at 2:12 pm;  this wasn't easy as I had my foot on the brake while leaning over & resting my camera lens on the passenger-side window & trying to keep it somewhat steady!  Cropped image is attached. -S.G.
Red-throated Loon, Pleasant Creek, Linn County   Photo by Scott Garrett  April 25, 2018

April 25, 2018: Good day, 17 PRAS members birded Harold Getty Lake, part of the Riverview Recreation Area in Waterloo this morning for 2.5 hours. This area has been developed using REAP funds. We had the opportunity to view 39 species as we walked 2 miles around the lake. This was the first time PRAS birded the Lake and we were pleased with our results. Plan on birding the lower part of Hartman Reserve in Cedar Falls next Wednesday morning.

April 24, 2018: I have been enjoying some hikes around Riverview Park (funded by REAP) a mile from my house in Waterloo.   Surprising the birds that have been showing up.  Last evening I walked the two mile trail around the lake - 30 species.  Some highlights: 
Common Loon - 6
Peregrine Falcon
Brown Thrasher - 2
Barred Owl
I did a quick check this morning - 5 loons
Riverview Park is at the East end of Mitchell St. near the Cedar River.  Formerly known as the Mitchel Sand Pits, it is flanked by the waste treatment plant and the motorcycle park.  You drive through a junk yard to get to it.  A segment of bike trail leads to it which is connected to 120 miles of bike trails in Waterloo and Cedar Falls and the Cedar Valley Nature trail that goes all the way to Cedar Rapids.  Gulls, pelicans, RB mergansers, and many others have been showing up.  This park is a prime example of what REAP dollars do for the general public - very nicely done and easy to bird. - Tom Schilke - Waterloo 

April 23, 2018: Saw a male Pine warbler in G. Wyth SP this morning catching insects along with a number of Yellow-rumped warblers in trees by the backwaters nearest the bird blind parking lot.  A lifer for me! A cropped photo of it is attached.- Scott Garrett, Cedar Falls, IA

Pine Warbler seen at George Wyth State Park - Photo courtesy of Scott Garrett

April 22, 2018: Earth Day - Day @ Big Woods Lake -  John McCormick joined us on a bird walk today and captured a beautiful photo of a male Yellow-rumped Warbler!  These are the first warblers to return to our area in the we are glad to see this little bird! Thanks for sharing your photo John! Glad you joined was a fun day!

Yellow-rumped Warbler at Big Woods Lake    Photo courtesy of John McCormick

April 22, 2018: Earth Day - Day @ Big Woods Lake: PRAS Board members talked with visitors and took lots of people birding throughout the afternoon. Regular woodland birds were seen including lots of kinglets. On the lake were coots, a few cormorants, 1 male Ruddy Duck, 1 PIed-billed Grebe, 1 Common Loon and 1 male Red-necked Grebe!  Very good looks at the Red-necked Grebe (a rare bird for this area) were seen. Sometimes birds like this drop in and are gone overnight, but sometimes they stick around.  If you would like to try and see the Red-necked Grebe and you don't have a spotting scope, email and Candace Havely can perhaps meet you after she gets off work.

April 21, 2018: There are somewhere around 200? or more White Pelicans on the pond a half mile north of Plainfield.  We watched them come in late yesterday afternoon and they are still there this morning. That was so awesome to see the groups coming from the south and then circling the pond before landing.  Also, we observed seven Common Loons, (how cool is that?)  3 swans, and many more ducks and geese.  We have never seen Common Loons on that pond before.   What a beautiful sight!   Also, the eagle nest one mile west of Plainfield has two babies that I can see from my sun room window with my spotting scope.   We are up on the hill north of the nest and the nest is about level with our sunroom, so I can see it quite well, even though it’s over a mile away.-Linda P.

April 21, 2018: Good day, seventeen birders enjoyed a beautiful day in Hardin County, observing 82 species.Highlights include: Snow, Ross and Greater-White Fronted Geese, American Black Duck, Bonaparte Gulls, Peregrine Falcon flying over the new Legacy Wetlands, Red-necked Grebe, Horned Grebe, an early Dickcissel was spotted by T. Stone, Common Loon, Brown Creeper, both Kinglets, Osprey and multiple Bald Eagle nests, with one eaglet observed stretching its wings! Wild ramps, Snow Trillium, and Hepatica were just starting to bloom--Thank you Nancy Slife for your expertise and enthusiasm, it was such fun learning how ants help propagate wildflowers--so interesting! There were also a raccoon and a coyote observed during our day. Here are the ebird lists for all of our stops-note the lists indicate the species observed, but not the actual number of birds seen: Grundy County Lake, Pintail & Legacy Wetlands, Eagle City PreserveHardin City PreserveAckley-St. Mary's CemeteryPine Lake State Park. These species were seen in-between stops:  Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestral, Mourning Dove, Wild Turkey, and Great Blue Heron.

April 19, 2018: A local couple from Dike, report seeing 7 Common Loons on the small Grundy County Lake.  Thanks for the report! 

April 18, 2018: Wednesday Morning Birding-Plan B
Even though the inclement weather caused us to cancel this morning's birding at Big Woods Lake, our wonderful PRAS field trip leaders, Craig & Kris Rash, persevered and birded at home and used the suggestions from the new PRAS pamphlet 10 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Birds as inspiration for the following report: 

Good day, here is our version of birding on this crummy Wednesday morning.  We thought of the 10 Simple Steps You Can Do to Help Birds and are doing these as we are watching from our vantage point. 

1.Threaten the birds with a little snow and they will come in droves.
2  Provide clean water; heated bird bath provided
3. Plant native plants; trees and understory just waiting for sun
4. Keep cats indoors; our cat is inside catnapping near the fireplace
5. Buy shade-grown coffee; enjoying a cup of shade-grown coffee while viewing these birds
6. Go birding; birding in our front yard: Junco, Purple Finch, Cardinal, B.C. Chickadee, Blue Jay, Fox Sparrow, Pine Siskin, Woodpeckers observed
7. Give them shelter; observe the brush pile in the background (see picture below)
8. Feed the birds; we are going to claim them as dependents!
9. Prevent window strikes; easier said than done, but we have strung ribbons to help distract them.
Feeders at the Rash Residence - Photo by Kris Rash

Craig and Kris Rash -- Join us for next Wednesday's Morning Birding at Greenbelt Lake, April 25th.

April 17, 2018: George Wyth State Park had lots of birds as well. Notable, an Osprey was perched near the road.  Along S. Riverside Trail on N. Hackett Road there were 3 Brown Creepers and a Golden-crowned Kinglet was in some sapling sin the flood waters creeping up the road. Also present were: Yellow-rumped warblers, Hermit Thrushes, Eastern Phoebe, and Eastern Bluebirds along the trail. Buffleheads and Wood Ducks were in the backwater. At Hartman Reserve one of the resident Pileated Woodpeckers was seen along with a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Golden-crowned Kinglet  Photo by Scott Garrett

Osprey  Photo by Scott Garrett

Brown Creeper  Photo by Scott Garrett

April 17, 2018: Riverview Park in Waterloo had about 25 different species after supper. 2 Common Loons, 15+ Red-breasted Mergansers, a few Franklin's Gulls, Field, Fox and Song Sparrows, Hermit Thrushes, a Brown Creeper, etc.  Last week, I had some luck seeing good birds at Sweet Marsh in Bremer County. Photos below. - T.S.

Common Loon, Riverview Park. Photo by Tom Schilke

Bald Eagle, Sweet Marsh, Photo by Tom Schilke

Lesser Yellowlegs with a Western Chorus Frog  Photo by Tom Schilke

April 16, 2018:
There were 2 Common Loons (vocalizations heard!) still on Casey Lake at Hickory Hills and the Osprey was calling and succesfully fishing again, but the bird of the day was the Brown Creeper! There were no less than six different Brown Creepers. Also seen was a Gold-crowned kinglet. When I got home, I saw my Hermit Thrush and my Brown Creeper in the backyard along with a lot of juncos and House Finch. Candace H.

April 15, 2018: George Wyth State Park had 15 Common Loons (COLO's)--13 on GW Lake, 1 on Alice Wyth Lake, and 1 on Brinker Lake. There were also many Eastern Phoebes, YRW's, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, an Osprey, a lone Greater white-fronted Goose on Alice Wyth Lake, and 31 Hermit Thrush along the roads. Big Woods Lake had 2 COLO's and 19 Pelicans on the lake. Prairie Lakes Park had 4 COLO's and a skein of 200 or so Snow Geese that circled the lake. Greenbelt Lake had 3 COLO's and a pair of Lesser Yellowlegs. One of the Common Loons at Greenbelt Lake even sang. - C.L.

At Hickory Hills in Tama County today there were 5 Common Loons (some vocalizing) and a first of the year (FOY) Osprey. The Osprey was also calling and I observed it perching, balancing on one leg at a time. I also saw it flying with a fish. Lots of Eastern Phoebes and Tree Swallows were hawking over the water. There were also 2 Bald Eagles (1 juvenile and 1 mature). There was also a crowd of Double-crested Cormorants and the usual ducks. There was 1 lone Green-winged Teal and 1 Belted Kingfisher. - Candace H.

Was surprised to see a FOY *Eastern Towhee *drop by briefly this morning into the newly fallen snow & moments later saw a FOY *Yellow-bellied Sapsucker* drilling on a River Birch. They joined a FOY *Brown-headed Cowbird *which was in a seed tray & a first-in-the-yard this year, a* Fox Sparrow.* One White-crowned sparrow & a Song sparrow were in with a number of Juncos, Starlings, Red-winged blackbirds & Robins. - S.G.

April 14, 2018: Red-throated Loon was photographed at Grundy County Lake by PRAS member. This bird was seen by two of PRAS's best birders. There were also 4 Common Loons on the lake along with a Horned Grebe, Red-breasted Mergansers, Ruddy Ducks, Lesser Scaup, a few Ruddy Ducks and some coots.

April 13, 2018: A Common Loon in stunning breeding plumage was observed at Casey Lake at Hickory Hills. Two Double-crested Cormorants were seemingly standing in the middle of Casey Lake...obviously they were perched on a stump, but they stood side by side and it was interesting to see.  If you haven't checked out PRAS Board Member, Kenneth Heiar's blog, Speaking of Nature lately, you need to do so...he has spectacular photos of other birds seen at Hickory Hills, including a Field Sparrow, a Winter Wren, a Golden-crowned Kinglet and Northern Shovelers. - Candace H.

April 12, 2018: On the way home from picking our son up from daycare, a soaring large accipter caught my attention. I was able to i.d. it as a N.GOSHAWK by the size, as large as a Red-tailed Hawk. This was near highway 218 in Waterloo. - Tommy S.

April 10, 2018: Good Day. 17 PRAS members birded three sites this morning on our Wednesday morning Birding which featured a Great Horned Owl nest near the Hwy 63 exit at Denver, a pond on Joplin Road and the Ingawanis Woodland site in Bremer County today. Altogether 34 species were sighted in the 2.5 hours and 1.2 miles of hiking. It was a little too early for wildflowers. Here are the bird lists for the different locations: Great Horned Owl Nest location, Pond on Joplin Road, Camp Ingawanis. Lots of waterfowl were seen, including Wood Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Canvasback in addition to returning migrants, Eastern Phoebe, Gold-crowned Kinglets, Turkey Vultures, etc. Come bird with us at Big Woods Lake in Cedar Falls next Wednesday, April 18th.- Craig R.

April 7, 2018: I got some exercise walking dikes today at Sweet Marsh in Bremer Co.  It was cold and windy.   A good half the water was frozen, but good numbers of waterfowl on open water.  Some highlights:

Sandhill cranes - at least 73 in the south unit alone
GB herons - 5 FOY
Rusty Blackbirds 40
Rough-legged Hawk - 1
Red shouldered Hawk - 1
Harriers - 5 - most flushing from the cattails like bitterns
Snipe - 1
Coot - densely packed -lots of white bills against the black feathered, icy background
Woodcock -2
Rosy cheeks - 2
Mumbly lips - 2
Frozen nostril - 1

Tom Schilke - Waterloo

At Hickory Hills in Tama County this afternoon, I saw a FOY (first of the year) Hermit Thrush, about a dozen handsome Canvasback, 1 Green-winged Teal, the ever present Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Ducks, a few Blue-winged Teal, Coots, and Bufflehead. A muskrat was also observed as was a Red Fox who was rolling in the dirt in the elk paddock. When the fox righted itself, it seemed to sense it was being watched as it stood there for a bit of time then turned and trotted off into the trees. - Candace H.

April 4, 2018: 1st Birding on Wednesday field trip of the season! Eight PRAS members gathered with Kris and Craig Rash this morning to bird the George Wyth State Park for 2.5 hours. Yes, it was cold (started out at 14 degrees F) and a bit windy as we observed four otters fishing early in our trek. It turned out to be a very successful day as we sighted 42 species, including a Loon, Woodcock and White-Fronted Geese while visiting many sights in the Park. Plan on attending next Wednesday morning at the Eagle Lodge at Ingawanis Woodland in Bremer County (2588 Hawthorne Janesville, IA) -Craig Rash. 

April 2, 2018: Greenbelt Lake yielded 1 pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 pair of Hooded Mergansers, 4 Pied-billed Grebes, 3 Killdeer, and about 7 Song Sparrows. - C.H.

April 1, 2018: A Hermit Thrush was sighted in Hartman Reserve. Close up observations of the bird that was located in the lower unit of Hartman in the prairie segment near the bike trail. - A.O.

Common Loon was at Casey Lake at Hickory Hills in Tama County along with a variety of ducks including, Ruddy Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Gadwall, Coots, Common Goldeneye. - C.H.

March 31, 2018: Common Loon in breeding plumage was seen on the main lake of Riverview Recreation Area in Waterloo. A flock of American White Pelicans just flew over and a small skein of 20 or so White-fronted Geese just landed on a sandbar with some Canada Geese. There are many Ring-billed Gulls present as well. - C.L.

This morning at Hickory Hills there were quite a few Northern Shovelers and Green-winged Teal that hadn't been there last night. Two female Common Mergansers, and most of the other ducks observed on March 30th. A Great Blue Heron, a Belted Kingfisher that perched on top of the light fixture of the boat dock, and a flock of Snow Geese (flyover) were seen. - C.H.

March 30, 2018: Greater Scaup were seen at Prairie Lakes. - D.E.

At Hickory Hills there were a lot of ducks including: A lot of Ring-necked, Bufflehead, 1 female Canvasback, a few Gadwall, a few American Wigeon, a few Redheads, a few Blue-Winged Teal, a lot of Lesser Scaup and a pair of Greater Scaup (heads are rounder than the peaked shape of the Lesser Scaup and the female duck had a prounounced white patch behind her bill). FOY (first of the year) Eastern Phoebe was also seen. - C.H.

March 22, 2018: Two pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, Ring-necked Ducks and Lesser Scaups and a pair of Buffleheads were at Hickory Hills.

March 21, 2018: Red-breasted Mergansers and a Ruddy Duck were seen at Big Woods Lake. 

At Hickory Hills, there were 2 pair of Hooded Mergansers, 1 Common Merganser, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, Buffleheads, Lesser Scaup, a Common Goldeneye, a female Canvasback and Ring-necked Ducks at Hickory Hills.

Greater Scaup (female) was seen at Prairie Lakes and Alice Wyth Lake. 

A Eurasian Tree Sparrow was seen at the feeders at Cedar River Milling in Gilbertville.

March 18, 2018: 2 Saw-whet owls were observed at George Wyth S.P. today in the cedars beyond the bird blind. There was a Pied-billed Grebe at Big Woods Lake in Cedar Falls this afternoon.-Scott G.

March 16, 2018: A flock of 9 Common Redpolls was seen feeding with American Tree Sparrows along the main road, just past the exit to the main lake at George Wyth State Park.

The Common Loon continues near the south side of Big Woods Lake on Friday morning.

March 15, 2018: A lone Common Loon was seen out in the middle of Big Woods Lake about 5:45 p.m. this evening. 

March 13, 2018: Four saw-whet owls in one day--one at Greenbelt Lake and 3 at George Wyth State Park in the same area beyond the bird blind.

March 12, 2018: Saw-whet owl was seen by Scott G. at Greenbelt Lake in the area on the west side of the conifer stand. This bird is well camoflauged and perches near the trunk. 

March 11, 2018: A Northern Saw-whet Owl was seen in Greenbelt Lake by Tommy S. Candace H. could not relocate the owl in the afternoon, but saw 3 Hooded Mergansers on the lake. Tom S. Sr, has had three Pileated Woodpeckers coming to his bird feeders in the yard in Waterloo! Later at Hickory Hills again, there were three Bald Eagles (a juvenile was seen taking a fish) and a Belted Kingfisher was actively fishing as well. There were also 3 Ring-necked Ducks (2 drakes, 1 hen). The eagles were vocalizing which is always fun to hear. On the way out of the park, a Red-tailed Hawk was on a fence post and the elk and bison were drawing observers from the road.

March 10, 2018: Hickory Hills (Tama County) had 3 Hooded Mergansers (2 drake, 1 hen), 4 gorgeous Eastern Bluebirds, some Cackling Geese, what looked to be a pair of American Black Duck and lots and lots of Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins. I birded George Wyth State Park in the afternoon and after a very helpful PRAS member led me to the area, I got to see the two Saw-whet Owls. I also saw 1 Fox Sparrow underneath the very busy feeders at the bird blind. I went to Alice Wyth Lake and found a nice variety of birds there to: Lots of Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks, Canvasback, Redheads, a few Gadwall, 3 Green-winged Teal, a couple of mallards, Canada Geese, 3 Bufflehead, 3 Ring-billed Gulls and then I heard a vocal Red-shouldered Hawk and a Pileated Woodpecker. A  nice flock of Greater-white Fronted Geese also flew over the lake; their distinctive calls are diagnostic. Candace H.

March 9, 2018: Did some birding in Blackhawk and Bremer counties today. North of Raymond in Blackhawk co., I came across a large flock of Lapland Longspurs so I pulled over on the shoulder and scanned through them. I was able to pick out at least 2 SMITH'S LONGSPURS still in their drab winter plumage. In Raymond a I saw a MERLIN. At Aldo Leopold W.A. highlights were, 26 SANDHILL CRANES and 11 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS. There was modest numbers of waterfowl but not much diversity since there was limited open water.  Tommy S.

March 7, 2018: An Attenborough moment...For the last half hour I have watched 7 hooded merganser males trying to impress one studiously oblivious female. She dives, and the guys hustle over to where she comes up. I could hear them through the windows. They were very excited, and circled and displayed in every way they know, sometimes side-by-side in pairs (2 males). It's in the pond N of the Dome parking lot, just behind my house. And I'm still in my jammies. Life is good. Gini B.

March 6, 2018: A pair of Fox Sparrow and a Northern Saw-whet Owl were observed at George Wyth State Park. In addition, at Wyth Lake there was a trio of River Otters on the ice catching fish. A few minutes later, another two otters appeared out of another hole in teh ice, so there were 5 otters in total! Then to top it off, a mature Bald Eagle landed at the top of a dead tree, between the otter groups. So, it was a fine day! - Scott G. See photos courtesy of Scott Garrett

February 27, 2018: Big Marsh was a hotspot of spring migration with thousands of Snow Geese. See Scott Garrett's photos on the PRAS home page. A Northern Saw-whet Owl was also spotted at George Wyth State Park.

February 16, 2018: During a count for the Great Backyard Bird Count at Hickory Hills there were 3 Eastern Bluebirds, and 1 Red-headed Woodpecker in the big oak trees just east of the parking lot by the archery shelter. Other expected woodland birds were seen, as well as 7 Wild Turkeys who were near the entrance. Candace H.

February 13, 2018: A juvenile Bald Eagle was seen outside Denver, IA. 

February 10, 2018: Three PRAS members independently saw a Short-eared Owl northwest of Dunkerton Road on North Pilot Grove Road.

February 10, 2018: The Iowa Young Birders met at George Wyth State Park and found a Saw-whet Owl and even more life birds for participants. Here is the report from IYB Director, Tyler Harms: This morning, while on an Iowa Young Birders field trip to George Wyth State Park in Black Hawk County, trip leader Connor Langan spotted a flyover flock of 25 Common Redpolls near the entrance to the park office.Although they didn't land, all on the trip were able to hear and see them overhead. It was an exciting bird for all, and a life bird for many!

December 16th & 17th: Christmas Bird Counts 2017
Sun. Dec 16: Bremer County: Sixteen people participated in the count and 50 bird species were observed including a Cinnamon Teal in non-breeding (eclipse) plumage! A Merlin and a Red-breasted Nuthatch were also seen.

Sun. Dec 17: Cedar Falls-Waterloo CBC with potluck for final tally Eleven people participated in the count and we enjoyed having other members join us for our potluck dinner.  There were 54 species observed with Northern Saw Whet Owls, Merlin, Trumpeter Swans and Red-breasted Nuthatch being notable birds.

Thanks to all who helped and came out to support these events! 

December 15, 2017: Dave and Cindy Lux report seeing a Snowy Owl a few miles north of Toledo (just a bit north of the huge grain bins) along Hwy 63. Cindy says she saw a white bird flying on a straight course along the fence row about 15 feet above the ground when she realized it was a Snowy Owl! There is a lot of corn piled on the ground by those grain bins, which is likely attracting rodents or rabbits, so it may provide good hunting for the owl. She just wanted to share their lucky sighting.

December 10, 2017: Highlights at Hickory Hills (Tama County): 
-2 Saw-whet Owls
-4 Red-headed Woodpeckers
-2 late Yellow-rumped Warblers
-10 Purple Finches
-10 Wild Turkeys

December 8, 2017:  Scott Garret reports seeing his FOY (first of the year) Northern Saw-whet Owl at George Wyth State Park in the usual area of the cedar trees east of the bird blind. He also saw 3 possums and three Bald Eagles in the dead trees of G. Wyth Lake.

December 3, 2017: There are at least two Eurasian Tree Sparrows that hang with the House Sparrows in the brush pile and at the feeder at the Cedar River Mills building at Gilbertville. 

November 27, 2017: Snowy Owl, juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron and Bald Eagles were the highlights of Kip Ladage's birding at Sweet Marsh in Bremer County. Read his account and see his wonderful photos on his blog.

October 11, 2017: Good Day, our Wednesday morning PRAS birded the south trail along Big Woods Lake this morning.  Twelve members sighted 36 species as listed below.  Osprey, many thrushes and sapsuckers were present. The Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Hermit Thrush and White Crowned Sparrow sightings were new to our fall trips. We have sighted 94 species during our six outings this fall. No site is listed for next Wednesday, so access our web page for future listings.  It just depends on the weather. - Craig and Kris

October 4, 2017: Good day, the morning started out with the sun barely peeping through the clouds but by the time the twelve  PRAS Wednesday morning birders completed their 2 mile birding adventure it was 70 degrees and a clear day.  A great day for birding.  We sighted nine warblers, two hawks, two vireos and a Red-breasted Nuthatch among the 52 species.  I should add Tom Schilke and David Eastman went after a Bay-breasted Warbler and came back with the Tennessee Warbler and Red-eyed Vireo to add to our tally. I trust them.The Northern Parula presented itself for many excellent photos by our camera  buffs.  A day like today just makes you want to go birding again.Hope you make plans to attend our monthly meeting next Tuesday evening and our Big Woods birding next Wed morning. See for details for both events. Craig Rash

Mid-September, 2017: While birding at the Canfield area at George on Sept 15th I came across a family of five otters skillfully finding frogs to eat.  I call this guy “fang."   Tom Schilke

September 27, 2017: Update to sighting of a Swallow-tailed Kite; see entry on Sept. 11th: A neighbor to my east said she was driving and saw a bird she hadn't seen before, when she got home she couldn't find it in the Iowa bird book. I told her what I thought it was (Swallow-tailed Kite) and when she looked in her other book and saw a picture she said that was what she saw. Then a neighbor to my north said they both observed a bird flying & they didn't know what it was. They said the tail was very distinctive. Of course no one got a picture of the bird and no one has seen this bird since. - T.M. 

September 27, 2017: A pair of Sandhill Cranes could be seen in a field west of the Cedar Valley Bike Trail south of Gilbertville.

September 27, 2017: Good Day, our PRAS Wednesday morning group visited Tama County and birded Hickory Hills Park today. I sure wish David Voights would have attended because Cindy Lux spotted a Peregrine Falcon in flight. I know this has been a nemesis bird for David. Yes, we all were fortunate to observe it. Nine PRAS members enjoyed a morning birding with Tom Schilke as we sighted 36 species listed below. Be sure to ask Tom Moon to view the picture of the Northern Harrier he took this morning at our October monthly meeting.  We might see it in a magazine one of these days. Plan on attending our next outing at Greenbelt Lake off Martin Road in Waterloo next Wednesday. Craig

September 25, 2017: One of the better places to bird this time of year in George Wyth State Park in Waterloo is the Canfield area.  A sign points you to the parking lot.  I park next to the paved bike trail and follow it south towards the river until it splits near the highway and then turn back on the dirt easement road.  Along the rutted road are quite a few puddles that birds use to bathe and get a drink, zipping in and out from thick brush.  The food source is heavy this time of year with grape, dogwood, choke cherry, black cherry, hawthorn, etc. The puddles and food attract more birds than I have been seeing in other places. 

This morning was better than usual with 57 species (12 warbler sp.) More numbers for once, too.  Some highlights: 

Golden-winged Warbler 
Bay-breasted warbler 
Canada Warbler 
No. Parulas - one was singing 
Red shouldered hawk - no other hawks though 
Philadelphia Vireo 
R.C Kinglets 
W.T. sparrows 
Scarlet Tanager 
Pileated Woodpecker 
Baltimore Oriole 
Waxwings, robins, catbirds having a field day. 
Gray Squirrel - unusual for Waterloo 

Tom Schilke

September 23, 2017: At Hickory Hills (Tama County) there were 30 Blue-winged Teal, lots of Canada Geese, small flocks of Blue Jays, & a Belted Kingfisher. 20 Turkey Vultures and 2 Broad-winged Hawks kettling this morning as the thermals were rising.

September 20, 2017: Good day, today was another good day for our PRAS members to go birding.  Twenty participated in the 1.5 mile walk around Prairie Lakes and contributed to sighting 25 species as listed below.  The Northern Bobwhite was seen and  it is believed to be a first sighting for the Prairie Lakes Hotspot.  I believe that makes 194 species listed for Prairie Lakes.  We observed  Goldfinch young in a nest and at least six Green Herons. Plan on attending next week's birding at Hickory Hills.  Something to visit about every time we go birding. View our web page for details. - Craig

September 13, 2017: Good day, eleven PRAS members birded the Union Access of the Washington Access Trail this morning Sept 13th.  We sighted 28 species as listed below and many saw one of the three Praying Mantis that were found.  Look forward to our next birding where we will be at Prairie Lakes in Cedar Falls. - Craig

September 11, 2017: I live in Buchanan county south of Independence Iowa. This morning I observed a bird I had never seen before in my tree. Flipping through my bird book I saw its picture. It said it was a swallow tailed kite, could this be possible ? I know my eagles and hawks and this was not one. White head, white breast, Black wings and tail of a swallow, size of a hawk and the beak of a hawk.  -- T.M.

September 10, 2017: Good day, six people participated in the birding part of the Prairie Fun Day held at Babcock Woods in Bremer County that PRAS supported. 16 species sighted.  Many activities were planned and was well supported by the youth of the area.

September 9 2017: Nine PRAS members enjoyed participating in Swift Night Out activities tonight from 7:15 to 7:47 pm.  Diane Newman, Jim and Joann Welch, Jeff, Kelly, Phoebe and Delia Morgan, Craig and Kris Rash  identified 110 Chimney Sifts roost in the Mowher Building chimney at Denver, Iowa.  Yes . We all went to The Sweet Spot for ice cream after the event. This migration will continue  every night until 10 October.  Hope you can take advantage of this an attend one. - Craig
September 8, 2017: Chimney Swift Reports Waterloo: They were flying by the Courier building but didn’t use their chimneys to roost.  I could see a group at the YWCA north of the river.  I didn’t get over there until 7:45 and counted 102 in 5 minutes and finished at 8:00 with 104 total.  Also had several night hawks, a red-tailed hawk, and a swarm of blackbirds. They are using a wide corner chimney on the north side of the YWCA   Another group of swifts was gathering near the blacksmith store on Commercial.  Some could be using the chimney there.  Nothing at Orange the other night. -Tom Schilke
Denver: We observed 108 Chimney Swifts  roost at the Burhow's Floor N Moor building in Denver Friday night.  Les and Linda Peters, from Plainfield, brought their daughter   Melissa  and Doug  Berger  and granddaughter to help count.  Started around 7:30 until 7:55 pm. - Craig

September 6, 2017: 1st Wednesday Morning Birding field trip: Good Day, ten PRAS members met and conducted our first Wednesday Morning birding for this fall at George Wyth State Park. With Joel and Linda absent we forgot to track the distance we birded; we probably birded a mile or so and sighted 36 species. Some of us sighted the Osprey and Great Egret as we left the park. PRAS begins our fall meetings on Tuesday, September 12th at 7 p.m.  Plan on attending our next Wednesday birding on Sept. 13th when we meet at Washington Union Access off Cedar Wapsi Road at 8:30 am.

August 27, 2017: A Red-throated Hummingbird was seen chasing a warbler around a Waterloo yard. The warbler turned out to be an immature female Hooded Warbler!

August 26, 2017: This morning a Pileated Woodpecker was heard doing it's clucking sound and then it was observed taking flight from the tall trees lining the west side of the trail, and flying across to the deeper woods. Always a treat to see and hear this species!

August 24, 2017: A Great Egret and a pair of calling Sandhill Cranes were observed along the Cedar Valley Bike Trail. 

August 18, 2017: A female Black and White Warbler was observed at Hickory Hills, Tama County. 
Female Black and White Warbler   Photo by K. Heiar

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 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 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 


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)


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 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 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 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 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 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 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  
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).

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 ( 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 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

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

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/ 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 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 

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:

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 home page.
Wood Duck
Hooded Merganser
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
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
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 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 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, 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 -- 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 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: -- 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


American Black Duck


Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal


Ring-necked Duck


Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser

Rudy Duck

Wild Turkey

Pied-billed Grebe

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel

American Coot

Sandhill Crane


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
Black-throated Blue Warbler - nice male
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 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 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 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. 
Besides the usual suspects, on Friday (5/16) saw an American Redstart and Myrtle warbler.

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

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

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.