Iowa Audubon

News

Jul 05, 2019
SAVE THE DATE FOR PRAIRIE RENDEVOUS

On Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, the University of Northern Iowa will host a Prairie Rendezvous when the campus tall grass prairie will be dedicated and renamed the Daryl Smith Prairie. The event will commemorate Daryl’s retirement from UNI and honor his 50-plus years of dedication to prairie education and preservation. 

The event will be a culmination of Prairie Heritage Week and prairie enthusiasts, former students and friends of Daryl are invited to attend. The program will include various speakerswhose remarks will remember and honor Daryl’s work with prairie, students and  the statewide community. Speakers will be various university representatives, including UNI President Mark Nook, as well as Daryl’s former students.  There will be a program at 10:30, followed by lunch. After lunch guests are invited to return to the prairie site for refreshments and tours of the prairie, planted by Daryl and students in 1973. All are welcome and there is no charge.

 

Daryl has played an integral part in prairie preservation, management and restoration in our state, including his leadership in the development of a statewide program of utilizing native vegetation in Iowa’s roadsides..

If you cannot attend, please feel free to share your own Daryl Smith story by email to Department of Biology head Theresa Spradling,     theresa.spradling@uni.edu.



Jul 05, 2019
COUSTEAU TO GIVE KEYNOTE AT OKOBOJI BLUE WATER FESTIVAL

Alexandra Cousteau, globally known water quality advocate and granddaughter of famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, will deliver the keynote address at the Okoboji Blue Water Festival on August 10 in Preservation Plaza at the Arnolds Park Amusement Park.

“This is a coup for the festival,” said event founder Greg Drees. “Alexandra’s mission fits our event’s focus perfectly.  She will deliver a passionate speech. Anyone interested in water quality issues will not want to miss this.” 

Our speaker is award-winning filmmaker, National Geographic Explorer, and global water advocate Alexandra Cousteau. Alexandra continues the work of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau and her father Philippe Cousteau Sr. by helping people throughout the world explore and value their everyday connections with our water planet.

 

Iowa Audubon and the Iowa Ornithologists’ Union will have display booths at the festival, in order to promote clean water for the health and survival of Iowa’s birds and habitat.  For more information about the entire festival, including a prestigious music concert, check the following website:   https://www.okobojibluewaterfestival.com/



Feb 08, 2019
CONSERVATION CORPS OFFERS WORK AND TRAINING FOR FUTURE CONSERVATIONISTS

      Iowa Audubon hopes to find and encourage youth and young adults with an interest in conservation and training. That may lead to new careers for those who enjoy the outdoors and want to do whatever possible to assure protection of our vital natural resources. Thus, our organization is most pleased to share this information about the Conservation Corp of Minnesota and Iowa.

      Conservation Corps provides hands-on environmental stewardship and service-learning opportunities to youth and young adults while accomplishing conservation, natural resource management and emergency response work.  Goals are to help young people from diverse backgrounds become more connected to the environment, engaged in conservation, involved in the community and prepared for future employment. Mission and accomplishment of goals is achieved through initiatives for youth and young adults.      

      All Conservation Corps programs devote 20 percent of program time to technical-skills training, career-building skills such as resume writing and interviewing, and educational activities focused on environmental science and technology. Using scientific inquiry and experiential learning, the Conservation Corps helps young people learn more about the world around them and think critically about the impact of their personal choices on the environment. For more information about available youth and young adult opportunities, go to the Conservation Corps' following web page: 

https://www.conservationcorps.org/americorps-opportunities/ 



Apr 11, 2018
KELLERTON GRASSLANDS NAMED IOWA'S SECOND GLOBALLY IMPORTANT BIRD AREA

Ringgold County’s Kellerton Grasslands Important Bird Area (IBA) has been elevated to status of a Globally Important Bird Area(GIBA) by National Audubon, and by BirdLife International, based in Great Britain.  The Kellerton Grasslands are best known in Iowa for the resident population of Greater Prairie Chickens, but the new GIBA designation was made based upon the region’s critical importance to nesting Henslow’s Sparrows, listed as an Iowa Threatened Species.

Kellerton GIBA also has dual designation as an Iowa DNR Bird Conservation Area (BCA).  While Audubon’s IBA program recognizes sites critical for nesting by several declining bird species, or important for large migration stopovers, the BCA program is aimed at designating large landscapes of habitat critical to a wider variety of Iowa’s birds and even other wildlife.  Kellerton was DNR’s original  Iowa BCA, and the first such designation of a grassland in the nation.

Although prairie chickens were one of the DNR’s first targets for better habitat protection on a BCA landscape, it was quickly realized that the area also houses many other nesting species of greatest conservation need, including Henslow’s Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows, Loggerhead Shrikes, Bell’s Vireos and more.  Nesting population studies of some species were begun through Iowa State University, with original Henslow’s Sparrow numbers compiled by Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit Leader Rolf Koford.  Following Emeritus Professor Koford’s retirement, DNR Wildlife Diversity Biologist Bruce Ehresman took over collecting more nesting data.  In early 2017 he submitted sufficient records to the National Audubon Society, so it could be considered for and receive Globally Important status. 

GIBA designation is not easy to acquire, but large numbers of Henslow’s Sparrows nesting in the Kellerton Grasslands resulted in this BCA/IBA gaining only the second such international recognition in Iowa.  The first was Effigy Mounds/Yellow River Forest BCA/GIBA, designated in 2013 for its nesting population of Cerulean Warblers, a species seeing a 70% national decline since 1966. Upon receiving Globally Important status, Iowa DNR and Iowa Audubon hope to target even more conservation effort, to assure the iconic species for each can stabilize or continue to recover, while also providing far better habitat for all wildlife. 

Kellerton Grasslands BCA/GIBA offer some of the best grassland bird sighting opportunities in all of Iowa.  Iowa Audubon is pleased to work in cooperation with Iowa DNR and the National Audubon Society to promote and protect this extremely crucial habitat and encourage birders to visit the area.



Apr 11, 2018
IOWA AUDUBON AWARDS 2018 SMALL GRANTS

      In March, the Iowa Audubon Board of Directors reviewed and selected projects for its 2018 small grants program.  Grants were awarded to two projects, utilizing "Wilson B. Reynolds and Juanita E. Reynolds Fund of the Minnesota Conservation Foundation" reserves set aside specifically for work in Iowa.

      The first award was to Ida County Conservation Board, to be used in partnership with funds also granted to Ida CCB by their local Pheasants Forever chapter. Monies from PF will be used to purchase evergreens to replace some dying conifers in Moorhead Park, located near the town of Ida Grove.  Iowa Audubon's grant funds will be used to prepare and maintain the planting sites for those new pine and spruce trees.  An important reason for this project is that Moorhead Park is famed for its annual wintering numbers of Northern Saw-whet and Long-eared Owls, which often are easily viewed by park visitors. This makes Moorehead Park a wonderful place to observe and learn about two of Iowa's lesser-known and sometimes secretive owl species. 

      The second award is to Professor Brian Peer of Western Illinois University, who is working to protect nesting habitat and sites for Prothonotary Warblers on Iowa's side of the Mississippi River, near Davenport.  Partnering with Nahant Marsh Conservation Education Center, Peer will be constructing and mounting warbler nest boxes on poles near or over backwaters of the Mississippi.  Prothonotary Warblers are one of only a couple of species of warblers that are cavity nesters and which readily use artificial nest structures.  But flooding in recent years has managed to drown out active nest boxes in this area, so the new structures will bespecially attached to the poles with cables, allowing the boxes to be raised above rising water levels in the event of future flooding. Prothonotary Warblers are just one of many avian species in decline across the U.S, so this small grant was awarded to attempt helping stabilze this species in Iowa.

Iowa Audubon's funds reserved for small grants will be increased in 2019, so the organization should be able to award more and/or larger grants next year.