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  • March 02, 2015 9:50 AM | Anonymous

    With the generous support of many donors, Iowa Young Birders is announcing the creation of the Iowa Young Birder Camp Scholarship.

    Each year, the American Birding Association offers two week-long young birder camps.  Camp Avocet (Delaware in August) and Camp Colorado (Estes Park in July) are considered premier opportunities for young birders to increase their birding skills, learn about bird conservation, and about careers in ornithology.  Above all, young birders have the opportunity to meet other young birders from around the country.

    Iowa Young Birders is committed to encouraging the development of young birders and we are excited to offer a scholarship of up to $500 to one or more Iowa young birders interested in attending an ABA camp.

    Scholarships are available to any young birder who is a resident of Iowa and is between the ages of 13 - 18 (the age range eligible for the ABA camps.)  Young birders need not be a member of Iowa Young Birders nor do they need to show financial need.

    As part of their application, young birders are asked to submit an essay written describing their most memorable Iowa birding experience and how it has changed their thoughts, ideas, or outlook on conservation.  The deadline to apply for the Iowa Young Birder Camp Scholarship is April 1.

    If you would like to contribute to the Iowa Young Birder Camp Scholarship, please click here.

  • February 23, 2015 1:54 PM | Anonymous

    Twenty-four hardy birders explored the wonders of a wintry George Wyth State Park near Waterloo on February 21, 2015.  Our group included 12 young birders ages 8 to 16.   Led by our local guide, Francis Moore, we braved an icy trail to an area that traditionally hosts one or  more Northern Saw-Whet Owls.  During our pre-walk orientation, we learned how this little winter visitor got its name by listening to a brief sample of its distinctive song and call.  "Whet" means to sharpen something and even though none of us have ever actually heard the sound of someone sharpening or "whetting" a saw, at least we understand the concept!

    The owl trail
    The owl trail

    When we approached the cedar trees that were likely to have a roosting owl, we paused as a group and sent Francis on ahead to (hopefully) locate an owl.  While we waited, we learned some of the techniques for finding roosting owls including looking for large amounts of "whitewash" (owl droppings) on the trunks of trees.

    Learning how to find owls
    Learning how to find owls

    In a few minutes, Francis returned with the news that he had found at least one owl.  We sent small groups back into the brush with Francis and all took turns quietly observing the owl.

    Francis sharing the owl 2
    Francis points out the owl


    Our target bird
    Our target bird. Photo by Tyler Harms

    With this kind of view, it was a very happy group of young birders, parents, and volunteer leaders!

    Cheering for the owls
    Cheering for the owls

    As we walked back to our cars, one of the resident Red-Shouldered Hawks flew right overhead.

    Another field trip highlight was that we had two copies of the Sibley Guide to Birds donated to Iowa Young Birders.  The name of each young birder was on a slip of paper and two names were drawn at random.  And two young birders went home with a book!

    Field guide winners
    Field guide winners

    Thank you to volunteer leaders Francis Moore and Bill Scheible for your help and to the parents who drove (and who, I'm quite sure) also enjoyed seeing the Northern Saw-whet Owl!

    Overall, we observed 18 species.  Many thanks to Connor, Coralee, and Walt for contributing to our eBird checklist which you can see right here:   http://ebird.org/ebird/ybn/view/checklist?subID=S22004682
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