On July 8, 2017, sixteen young birders, parents, and grandparents gathered at Seed Savers Exchange near Decorah for a gorgeous morning of birding. Barn Swallows and a singing male House Wren greeted us as we started up the Oak Woods Trail. Before the trail head, we stopped near the barn to listen to a signing Chipping Sparrow and American Robin, two common Iowa birds but always fun to hear!
As we headed up the trail, we stopped at a clearing near the top to listen to and view a Mourning Dove in the distance. We also heard a singing Indigo Bunting at this location, who graced us with his melodious song but did not let us see him. A bird that did welcome us, however, was a stunning male American Goldfinch who landed approximately 10 feet from us in the opening for fantastic views. We continued along the trail to the overlook where we spent nearly 20 minutes viewing several exciting birds. From this location, we saw a small flock of Cedar Waxwings, a Brown Thrasher, a cooperative Eastern Wood-Pewee, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird among others. Singing high in the treetops was a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher.
We headed back down the trail to the main yard, stopping briefly in the gardens for a brief lesson about the importance of plants to birds. We discussed how birds use plants for food, shelter, and nesting, and about how different birds use different plants. We enjoyed the many colorful blooming plants while taking a water and snack break, then continued to the Orchard Trail for another hike.
After a short distance along the Orchard Trail, we heard an Eastern Towhee in the distance. It wasn’t long before we located the bird in the understory. Not too long after, we located a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak feeding a young bird on the forest floor. We also heard a Wood Thrush singing in the distance. We finished our hike along the creek where we saw and heard Song Sparrows, a Common Yellowthroat, and Downy Woodpecker. As we hiked through the parking lot back to our vehicles, the last bird of the day was a singing male Northern Cardinal.
We finished the day with 35 species, including many other highlights not listed above. You can view our trip list here as well as photos from our morning here. Many thanks to all those who attended and to Seed Savers Exchange for hosting us!