Birding in Southwest Iowa

Birding in Southwest Iowa

A Day in the Life of a Birder in Rural Southwest Iowa by Phyllis Davis

Camera….check, hiking shoes….check, tripod….check, multiple layers….check, bright sun in the sky….check. Looks like the perfect day to scan the beautiful, rural, southwest Iowa countryside for some of my favorite feathered friends.

I climb into my Forester, camera always at arms reach, and begin my birding adventure. I keep my eyes peeled for any motion, bright color or obvious photo opportunity. 

My first destination is Rapp Park, previously a rock quarry, that is a favorite of many bird species. Pulling into the Park, I see a Great Blue Heron demonstrating its amazing fishing ability as it scans the water for a prospective meal. What great anglers they are!

Continuing through the park, I pull over, grab my Canon and stealthily make my way toward a peninsula and head down a narrow foot path through plum thickets and around trees.

On my way down the path, I observe a pod of Pelicans joined by a rookery of Double Crested Cormorants participating in a fishing expedition. They are successful at catching a numerous amount of fish, much to the cormorants’ skill of fishing and the pelicans’ skill of stealing or at least the attempt.

As I continue down the narrow, slightly muddy path, Yellow Rumped Warblers flit through the thickets sharing their beautiful song as they fly ahead of me.

Yellow Rumped Warbler on Birding Planet

Nearing the end of the peninsula, Tree Swallows skim the surface of the water with aerobatic perfection. What talented flyers!  

As I admire the skillfulness of the Tree Swallows, I spot the unmistakable white head of a Bald Eagle perched in a nearby tree. While standing motionless and holding my breath, the eagle takes flight with a definite purpose in mind, capturing breakfast. I am so excited to witness a successful attempt at fishing by our national bird. How spectacular they are!

See also  Black Bird Walk

Heading back to my vehicle, I notice another Great Blue Heron scanning the shallow waters for its next meal. 

Great Blue Heron on Birding Planet

I’m on the road again, nearing the small town of Sidney, I spot another majestic Eagle sitting atop an electric pole soaking in some rays from the sun. I pull over slowly as to not disturb it from its regal throne. To my delight, it poses beautifully for quite some time before gracefully flying away.

Bald Eagle on Birding Planet

Leaving the Nishnabotna River basin, I head through the Loess Bluffs and down into the river valley of the Missouri. 

Continue reading Birdwatching in Iowa..

About by Phyllis Davis, who is a member of the Birding Planet Facebook group: I am a recently retired elementary school teacher of 32 years. I now enjoy working part time at a veterinary hospital in a nearby town. I guess I traded 2 legged creatures for 4 legged ones.  I have three grown children and 2 grandchildren (more on the way) that all live in the area. My husband, who is often recruited as my birding chauffeur, and I live in  beautiful rural southwest Iowa. I began my love for photography when my kids were participating in sports. My subjects have changed over the years, but my passion for photography has only grown. In fact, my kids often ask if my camera is permanently attached to me. I absolutely love that I can get out and enjoy nature at its best. 

All the photos above are taken by the author.

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Reader Comments

  1. Awesome job on the photos and on the article dear friend.
    What a great thing to do in your retirement.

  2. Thanks so much, Carolyn. I certainly enjoy getting g out and finding things that don’t mind me snapping pictures of! ?

  3. Great to see the birds of my home state. I’m a southwest Iowa kid myself and miss seeing all the bald eagles around. Don’t seem to see as many here in Colorado. Superb photos!

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