On January 21, 2017, 11 young birders, parents, and grandparents joined us for a visit to Dale Maffitt Reservoir, a popular waterfowl wintering location south of Des Moines. It was foggy, but temperatures hovered around 40 degrees making it a pleasant morning for birding.
Our target bird for the day was the Trumpeter Swan. Upwards of 200 swans had been reported at this location this winter and we were excited to see how many were around that morning. Upon arrival and a short hike, we quickly counted 81 swans on the water! We discussed the differences in appearance between adult and juvenile swans, and enjoyed close looks at these fabulous birds on the water and flying overhead.
After studying the swans, we continued hiking along a nature trail around the lake. We were unsuccessful in our search for roosting owls in the pines along the trail, but enjoyed the usual winter songbirds including Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, and various woodpecker species. We were even treated with a small flock of Eastern Bluebirds.
While observing the bluebirds, we were surprised to hear a Greater White-fronted Goose calling overhead. We moved quickly to the edge of the water to locate two Greater White-fronted Geese mingling among the Canada Geese and Trumpeter Swans. We also saw two drake Redheads and a female Ruddy Duck, and were treated with the opportunity carefully compare three Cackling Geese with the nearby Canada Geese while learning about the differences in these two species. It was certainly a fun and educational morning!You can view photos from our trip here as well as our species list here. See you on our next trip!