The Ultimate Guide to Winter Birdwatching in Iowa

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Beat the winter blues by checking out some colorful creatures — it’s time to bird watch! Even though some species have headed south for the winter, there are still many opportunities to glimpse our feathered friends in Iowa. Check out the tips and tricks below to make the most of your experience.

Know what species to look for
Nature Worldwide has compiled a list of all the different bird species in Iowa. Each listing states the bird’s scientific name, common name and “UIA.” The UIA codes include each species abundance in the state and status of permanence. Take the red-bellied woodpecker for example. This bird has a UIA of “CN” which means that they are common birds to sight and they nest in Iowa, but are absent for part of the year. These codes can help bird watchers identify which species are around from season to season.

Where to Go:

State parks/forests
Look for areas with coniferous covering or brushy areas. Many species will feed off of remaining berries, nuts etc. Find an area near you.

Water sources
Any open water source will attract a variety of species, as many rely on aquatic animals or plants as food sources. Look for ducks, geese and other shorebirds. Be aware that many species migrate, so your sightings may vary from month to month. Continue reading

Spring Migration Bird Watching

INHF Land Stewardship Associate Erin Van Waus went hiking and bird watching with her husband, Heath, and their dog a couple of weeks ago. They visited Hendrickson Marsh Wildlife Management Area in Story and Marshall counties, where they saw Northern shovelers, American wigeons, Northern Pintails, Wood ducks, Buffleheads, Mallards, Snow geese, Canada geese, White-fronted geese and many other birds that are migrating north as warmer weather moves in!

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