It was a gorgeous fall morning at F.W. Kent Park near Iowa City on September 12, 2015 as 20 young birders and parents joined us for fall migration birding. We started with a brief lesson about passerine migration and learned about the use of weather radar to track migrating birds. The winds were out of the north all night and the bird activity was high, but before hit the trail we had a few presentations to make. Iowa Young Birders partnered with the Iowa Ornithologists’ Union to purchase field guides to give to one young birder on each of our next 12 trips. Aries Bonnichsen was the lucky recipient of a brand new Sibley Guide to Birds, Eastern Region! Lastly, we were lucky to have founder and former Executive Director Carl Bendorf and his wife Linda join us before their move to Colorado, and Iowa Young Birders presented Carl and Linda with a photo book of memories to thank them for starting our great organization.
Next, we hit the trail around the Conservation Education Center at the park. We immediately found birds and were able to find a Philadelphia Vireo foraging in the canopy. American Goldfinches were abundant, and a discussion ensued over whether they say “Potato Chip” or “Oh where are the cows?”. Both are helpful in remembering the flight call of our state bird! We walked a bit further down the trail and got great looks at Northern Flickers through the spotting scope, foraging Red-eyed Vireos, and a distant soaring Sharp-shinned Hawk. We also saw and heard a Common Yellowthroat calling from the grasses, and we talked about the similarities in call notes between this species and the Sedge Wren.
The birding slowed, and the young birders quickly took advantage of the abundance of frogs at the pond. It’s always fun to see the young birders enjoying all of nature. After walking the trail, we headed toward the nearby bird blind. Here, we observed White-breasted Nuthatches, Northern Cardinals, and a single Eastern Towhee visiting the bird feeders.
We finished the morning birding an area near the parking lot that was recently cleared of trees. The area offered a nice edge, and we saw many birds utilizing this edge including a couple American Redstarts, a Gray Catbird, and a Scarlet Tanager.
Many thanks to volunteer leader and board member Bill Scheible for sharing his birding knowledge and to Walt Wagner-Hecht for keeping our trip list which can be seen here.