Thursday, December 30, 2010

Birds of a Feather...

This year was the 27th year for the annual Christmas bird count here in the Amana Colonies. Every year a group of about 10 people go out on a day between Christmas and New Year to count how many species of birds they see that day. They do this as part of the national Audubon Christmas bird count which has been ongoing for 111 years.
            This year the Amana bird counters were in luck and had a beautiful day to explore the land that encompasses the Amana Colonies. They had glistening white hoarfrost in the morning and a mild sunny 20 degree afternoon to enjoy the Iowa landscape. Good weather makes the outing just that more enjoyable. The Annual bird count is a great excuse to get out in nature and explore on a day where you probably would be just sitting around eating left over Christmas cookies before they get stale.
The morning of the bird count, the adventurous few get up before the sun and go “owling”. Playing owl calls in hope for a response, those owls that do get counted. This is a social activity for the birders. They regularly meet up during the count and compare notes, see what bird have not been counted and discuss a game plan to find the missing birds. Turkey sometimes must be looked for in the afternoon, when they like to feed. The Brown Headed Cow Bird was elusive this year and was not to be found at a feeder or a cow pasture. This is strange, since it has been seen 22 out of the 27 year history of the bird count. There were two new, never seen birds on this years count, the Snow Bunting and the Carolina Wren.  
The Amana Colonies are a great place for bird watching. Its diverse habitat attracts such birds as rare Warblers who like to hang out in the woods to Sandpipers and shorebirds that make the Lily Lake their temporary home. Lanny Haldy, who is the director at the Amana Heritage Society, has been keeping a count of birds that he has seen in the Amana Colonies year round. Since 1975 he has seen 260 different bird species here. There have been 87 different species seen on the Christmas bird count over the 27 years. This year 43 species were seen, which is about normal.
Iowa isn’t really known for its outdoor activities, but the Amana Colonies are a really great place to get out there and explore nature. With a nature trail, a bike trail, wet lands, and a small lake there is plenty of space for bird watching, walking, hiking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing or what ever kind of out door adventure you seek. You will not only see a diverse bird population, but depending on the time of year you can see otters, minks, muskrats, turtles, mountain lions and coyotes along with a lot of deer.
Off to explore nature in my town: Amana Colonies


  1. I am happy to see this blog on the Amana's. I have just placed it on my blog list. I have been blogging for over two years. I am not sure who is writing this, but I was born and raised in the Amana's, and still think of it as home. Susan