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Iowa 2010 (1 Viewer)


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I visited Iowa once in 1976, and now have another errand there. My Mother wants her boys to see the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, and the place her Grandfather settled more than 150 years ago.

The timing is open, but Mom sees it as a special thing for her 90th birthday in September 2010.

But wouldn't that be a good time to see some birds?

Below is a list of life birds I could get on the Iowa list. Does anyone have ideas as to what I might find? Would another time than September be better? I could push for May.



Data of: Jeff Harding Date: 3-30-09
List Type: Species of Territory not on Inclusive Life List
Life List Inspected: Inclusive

Spring/Summer/Fall Possibilities
Mississippi Kite Ictinia mississippiensis
Greater Prairie-Chicken Tympanuchus cupido
Black Rail Laterallus jamaicensis
American Woodcock Scolopax minor
Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
Whip-poor-will Caprimulgus vociferus
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Empidonax flaviventris
Alder Flycatcher Empidonax alnorum
Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus
Sprague's Pipit Anthus spragueii
Worm-eating Warbler Helmitheros vermivorum
Connecticut Warbler Oporornis agilis
Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow Ammodramus nelsoni
Le Conte's Sparrow Ammodramus leconteii
Henslow's Sparrow Ammodramus henslowii
Smith's Longspur Calcarius pictus
Dickcissel Spiza americana
Rusty Blackbird Euphagus carolinus

Winter or Extinct or vagrant
Bean Goose Anser fabalis
American Black Duck Anas rubripes
King Eider Somateria spectabilis
Sharp-tailed Grouse (unsure) Tympanuchus phasianellus
Eskimo Curlew Numenius borealis
Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides
Ivory Gull Pagophila eburnea
Thick-billed Murre Uria lomvia
Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix
Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus
Gray-cheeked Thrush (unsure) Catharus minimus
Boreal Chickadee Poecile hudsonica
Black-crested Titmouse (unsure) Baeolophus atricristatus
Hoary Redpoll Carduelis hornemanni

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I am relatively new to birding, joined Bird Forum within the last month, and am from Iowa. I see that you originally posted this in April, but I just read it today. You may have already received plenty of information regarding your request, but just in case, may I suggest that you go to the following website? It is the Iowa Ornithologists' Union, with lots of information on birds in Iowa:


Hopefully you will have the opportunity to see many of the birds on your Iowa list, and take lots of pictures. If so, perhaps you will share them here. Best of luck to you.
Thanks for replying, welcome to birding and birdforum!
It is still a year away, so there is time to plan, but I will look at the IOU. I have not gotten any other replies, but it is early.

Hi Jeff,

I've only been birding a couple years and live in NW Iowa rather than the NE, where you'd be heading. I've actually seen very few of the species you have listed. But hey, you'll be pretty close to the Mississippi and I'm sure there's more traffic there than over here on the other end of the state.

Are you planning to travel around the state for your birding or will you be staying around Decorah? I think you'd see a lot more birds if you were here in May.

We see a lot of Woodcock here in the spring, only heard one this past fall. I think Dickcissels are likely to have moved out by then (Sept). Empidonax flycatchers I usually just throw up my hands so I can't help you there, next year I have a goal to pin them down though. I'm always on the lookout for sparrows, especially the ones you listed. Caught a brief look at what I think was a sharp-tailed during migration this spring but can't be sure. Most of my time out walking around is in the few prairies left around here and I haven't come across them. Whip-poor-will I've heard of being spotted closer to the Mississippi. Greater Prairie Chicken, I believe the only population in the state is in the south central portion, same for the Kite.

I think the winter passerines you listed would be a real long shot in January, let alone sept. Doesn't look like the Black crested titmouse gets close to us, ever. Can't help with the water birds.

The link in the other response was a good one. Hopefully you can find someone in the area more experienced than I to give you some specific advice.

If you'll be traveling the state and find yourself in the NW portion (Estherville) I'd be happy to show you around the area. We have a couple decent (but small) prairies left, a lot of sloughs, and a couple bigger lakes nearby that , from what I've heard, can provide some interesting (for us) waterfowl during migrations.

Happy travels!

Thanks for writing. We're still thinking about September, but haven't made firm plans yet.
We are not even sure whether to drive out from the west coast, or fly.
More later,

I actually live just a couple blocks down from the Vesterheim museum! If you are still planning on coming to Decorah this year I would suggest you go birding to the following places:

Seed Savers Exchange (a few miles north of Decorah)---there's about 9 miles of hiking trails and rarely do I see anyone...there are no specific hours...

Cardinal Marsh (about 15-20 miles west of Decorah)---it's a wetland area that's great for waterfowl

Lake Meyer (Calmar IA 10 miles south of Decorah)----Larry Reis is the naturalist there and also knows a lot about birds....here's a link to the birding lists (as well as some suggested bird sites) of winneshiek county there should also be some contact information if you have any questions http://www.winneshiekcounty.org/winncon/wild_info.htm

Hope that helps!
So far so good

I'm in Decorah now, having a nice time. One of my targets showed itself to me in Madison, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. I have gotten several new ABA birds, too, and it is nice to see eastern birds we don't see in Oregon.

This is primarily a genealogical expedition, but I can look at birds when they show up. Here's a Red-bellied Woodpecker that showed up at the Phelps Cemetery in Decorah while we were there. While everyone else was admiring a civil war era headstone, I braced the camera on another monument so I could get this distant shot, using the 80X digital feature of the Canon Powershot SX20IS.

Tomorrow we get the whole morning for birding, and I think I'll check out Lake Meyer.

Good birding,


  • Red-bellied Woodpecker IMG_4660.JPG
    Red-bellied Woodpecker IMG_4660.JPG
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