Sightings

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


Curious about a bird that someone has seen? Consult the "Links" page for links to birding ID sites. 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 listserv 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. 


September 18, 2020:
A flight of Broad-winged Hawks were seen flying over Waterloo.

A Red-breasted Nuthatch, a White-throated Sparrow and three Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were visitors to backyard feeders in Waterloo.

September 15, 2020: Migrating warblers, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Scarlet Tanagers were visitors to the backyard near Denver. Nearby, a group of four Red-shouldered Hawks were observed. 

September 14, 2020: A Female Black-throated Blue Warbler was seen at Riverview Park (old Mitchell Sandpits).

September 13, 2020: Red-breasted Nuthatches have been moving into all parts of Iowa, including Cedar Falls. Click on the "Photos" link to take a look at the PRAS Flickr account to see some great photos of this bird. 

September 12, 2020: Numerous Broad-winged Hawks and groups of Northern Flickers were seen along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

September 8, 2020: The previous couple of nights, birders in Denver, IA, Iowa's 3rd Bird Friendly City, were witness to the amazing spectacle of 200+ Chimney Swifts swooping into roost in chimneys in the downtown area. Every year there is a citizen science project titled, Swift Night Out, that asks citizens to record the number of swifts they see and share the data. 

Sept 8, 2020: A Mourning Warbler found it's way to our PRAS President's backyard! Other birds seen at Riverview Park in Waterloo (old Mitchell Sand Pits) included: Philadelphia Vireo, Blackpoll Warbler, Osprey, Nashville, Tennessee Warblers, etc. 

Hummingbirds were at seen at a backyard bird feeder in Waterloo.

Sept 5, 2020: Purple Finch seen at feed in Buchanan County.

Sept 2, 2020: I just refilled our hummingbird feeders!  It is like Grand Central Station. We also have had red-breasted nuthatches. They are one of my favorites. We didn’t have any in the 2029/2020 fall/ winter season. The year before they were here from September-May. Enjoy the beautiful fall weather! -S.L.

Sept 1, 2020:
Three American Avocets were seen at Riverview Park (old Mitchell Sand Pits) right across from the boat ramp on the beach. An Osprey feeding young was also observed.

A Barred Owl was seen along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

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 Evansdale 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