On June 11, 2016, 20 young birders, parents, and grandparents set out for a warm morning of birding around Lost Island Lake Huston Park and Trumbull Lake near Ruthven in northwest Iowa. Watching the many colorful birds at the feeders near the Lost Island Lake Nature Center including Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles, and Blue Jays had everyone excited to head out into the park.
We started the morning learning about birding with our ears from volunteer leader Lee Schoenewe. Lee explained to us that learning bird songs can be a very effective way to find and identify birds, especially during spring and summer months when birds can be more difficult to see. As we walked to a known location of a Baltimore Oriole nest, young birders got to hear the singing male oriole. After viewing not one, but two oriole nests, we continued walking around the new campground at Huston Park. We were treated with views of a stunning Yellow Warbler, a pair of Gray Catbirds, and even were able to see a pair of American Redstarts that may be breeding in the park again this year.
After a quick break at the Nature Center, we started down the wooded trail towards the lake. Several House Wrens were singing, and one young birder spotted a female Eastern Bluebird perched low in a tree that offered great looks for all. Two species of flycatchers, an Eastern Wood-Pewee and Great Crested Flycatcher, made a brief appearance and young birders learned about the “sallying” behavior exhibited by this group of birds. More birding by ear allowed us to find a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher and Yellow-throated Vireo.
We finished the morning at Trumbull Lake, a premier shallow lake wetland in northwest Iowa about 3 miles from Huston Park. Young birders quickly realized the bird community was quite different as a result of the different habitat, something we learned earlier in the morning. Trumbull Lake is known for its uncommon wetland birds to Iowa, and young birders were treated with views of Ruddy Ducks, a Western Grebe, Eared Grebes, and a Red-necked Grebe. We also had a Black Tern fly over, and heard a Least Bittern calling from the wetland.
Many thanks to Miriam Patton with Palo Alto County Conservation Board and volunteer leader Lee Schoenewe for a great morning of birding in northwest Iowa! You can view our species list for Lost Island Lake Huston Park here and for Trumbull Lake here. You can also view additional photos of our trip by clicking the photo above or here.