On Saturday, March 26, 2022, 23 young birders, parents, and grandparents gathered at Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center near Sioux City to kick off the spring migration season. At 28℉, it didn’t quite feel like spring! But the sun was shining beautifully through the forest and we were excited for our first field trip of 2022.
We were joined by Kari Sandage with Woodbury County Conservation who introduced us to the area. Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center is nestled in the heart of the Loess Hills landform region, a landform consisting of wind-blown soil deposits for which only one other example exists in the world (the Loess Plateau in China). After some fun facts from Kari, she led us first down to the bird feeders where we enjoyed views of some very cooperative Black-capped Chickadees and Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers. Later down the trail, we heard a White-breasted Nuthatch laughing at us from a nearby tree and stopped to admire a large cavity in a tree, a possible home for Pileated Woodpeckers which have been seen in the area.
We turned the corner on the trail to head up to an observation platform where we enjoyed gorgeous views overlooking the area. We heard a Wild Turkey gobble in the distance and saw a distant Red-tailed Hawk soaring overhead. After leaving the platform and heading back down the trail, we caught a quick glimpse of a pair of Cooper’s Hawks in a flighted courtship overhead. We continued our hike up to a hilltop prairie, but not before stopping to look for a calling Brown Creeper in the woods (unfortunately, its camouflage worked well) and watch a Barred Owl flushed from the treetops. Once at the hilltop prairie, Kari showed us Yucca, a native Iowa plant that is unique to the Loess Hills area of Iowa. It’s always fun to see other unique critters and plants!
We ventured back towards the Nature Center to finish our hike, enjoying the many American Robins along the way and stopping to see a Barred Owl and Red-tailed Hawk in the live raptor display. Our morning was not complete, however, without some time exploring the amazing Nature Center!
We are extremely grateful to Kari Sandage for leading us on a fun hike and to volunteer Jemmie Dyk for her leadership on the trip. And as always, thanks to the young birders and their families for joining us! You can view some photos from our trip here and our species list here.