Below is a captioned slideshow of photos I took during last weekend’s Iowa Ornithologist’s Union (IOU) meeting in Iowa City, Iowa. It was great fun, I made some new friends and I was able to catch up with some feathered friends I needed some re-acquaintance with. As I mentioned to the gang, I found Iowa to look somewhat like Uruguay but with taller trees, and that the birds had a southern element (Kentucky Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-throated Warbler) that I wasn’t expecting. It was also warmer than expected, but the same could be said for much of the continent this spring. Thanks to Carl and Linda Bendorf for hosting me, and ferrying me around from spot to spot. Among the non-bird highlights was seeing the Laysan Island cyclorama at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History. It was amazing to look there and between the Laysan Albatrosses, there were specimens of the Laysan Rail (now extinct), Laysan Millerbird (extinct), and Laysan Finch (hanging on by a thread). Also unexpected was my first ever, I mean ever!, glow worm (a beetle larva in the family Phengodidae). Here are a few photos of the local birds.
A classic eastern Song Sparrow, I am getting into the habit of taking photos of Song Sparrows throughout the continent. Their variation is outstanding!
Purple Martin female
We had a nice study of Purple Martins at a small town near Iowa City, it was neat to watch the variations in the female and immature male plumages. They are also such wonderfully shaped birds, muscle and grace all in one package.
This Red-headed Woodpecker was actively excavating. Every so often it would throw out a bunch of sawdust!
The Red-headed Woodpecker is a fantastic bird, there is nothing like it in North America except for its close relative the Lewis's Woodpecker. Both like big old dead snags, and both fly like crows without the typical woodpecker undulation. They also have a rather peculiar looking bill shape for woodpeckers, thick at the base and pointed at the tip.
Kentucky Warbler Iowa
Not the best photo, but then again this is a Kentucky Warbler, not the easiest species to approach. Still it was one of the most exciting moments in the forest, I had assumed we were well north of its breeding range, and there it was singing away!
I could post more and more photos of my favorite bird of the trip - the Dickcissel - but maybe two is enough. They are so unique in their pattern, and even their shape. Perhaps only the Bobolink has this specific rotund yet long-winged shape like the Dickcissel. Like the Bobolink, this species is an amazing migrant, leaving the grasslands of the US and S Canada (in some years), and migrating clear to South America to find similar grasslands there. The Dickcissel takes the more northerly grasslands of the Llanos, while the Bobolink heads down to the northern Pampas in the far south.
Cedar Waxwing hidingout
Lots of Cedar Waxwings were flying by while in Iowa. This one did not give a clear view, but enough to enjoy the gorgeous and crisp pattern that is so distinctively "waxwingy."
By far the most common warbler in Iowa is the American Redstart. Iowa is a redstart factory it seems! Every woodlot has a heck of a lot of them singing there. In all my birding, I had never seen such high densities of American Redstarts - wow!
Bobolink in Iowa
I had not seen a breeding plumaged Bobolink in some time. It was great to catch up to another of my all time favorite birds!
Dickcissel Iowa AJ
Dickcissel - a singing male from Iowa.