This driving trip to Iowa has been designed as part of our new “Road Trip America” series – where we independently drive to our destination, birding along the way. Some of us will leave from Asheville, NC and bird our way to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where we will officially start the tour.
Iowa enjoys a diverse collection of bird life, with over 400 species of birds having been found in the state. Because Iowa lies between the two major migratory flyways of the Missouri River Valley and the Mississippi River Valley, birders have the opportunity to witness the passage of many species that do not nest in Iowa but that pass through the state in spring and fall.
We will start our road trip in Cedar Rapids with visits to Cedar Lake where we will get our first gulls and waterfowl, as well as any lingering summer birds. We’ll then drive north along the Cedar River towards Waterloo. For the next 6 days we will visit birding spots like Big Marsh WMA, the locks along the Mississippi River, Effigy Mounds National Monument, Clear and Spirit Lakes near the South Dakota line, where we hope to find some Greater Prairie-Chickens. Driving southeast towards Des Moines we will visit Saylorsville Lake – one of the best birding spots in the state, before hitting the Fort Kellerton Grasslands and Fort Madison for lingering landbirds and then returning to Cedar Rapids. We should see an excellent selection of late-summer and fall birds during our 7-day driving trip.
Some of the Birds We Hope to See
Trumpeter Swan, American White Pelican, White-faced Ibis, Sandhill Crane, Sabine’s and Franklin’s Gulls, Northern Harrier, Rough-legged Hawk, Golden and Bald Eagles, Greater Prairie-Chicken, Northern Saw-whet and Short-eared Owl, Merlin, Northern Shrike, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Purple Finch, Red and White-winged Crossbill, Lapland Longspur, American Tree Sparrow, Yellow-headed Blackbird and many more.