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Big Bluestem Flyer

Newsletter of the Big Bluestem Audubon Society

Volume 40, Number 3 January/February 2005

Programs Field Trips

January 20 January 29
Sue Fairbanks Ledges State Park in the Snow
“Bighorn Sheep and their Environs” – Maybe
Dr. Fairbanks is a member of the ISU Department of
Natural Resource Ecology & Management. She has February 26
studied pronghorns and bighorn sheep as well as bison Winter Birds of Ada Hayden
and other species. Heritage Park and Little Wall
February 17
Joe Colletti 26 March 26
“The Bear Creek” Hendrickson Marsh and Colo Ponds
Dr. Colletti’s is interim department head of the ISU April 30
Department of Natural Resource Ecology &
Management. His research includes the economics of
Peterson Pits and Skunk River Greenbelt
short-rotation woody crops, agro-forestry systems, and May 7?
the integration of forestry and agriculture. The Bear
Creek project involves the design and placement of a
multi-species riparian buffer strip system June 4
March 17 Birder’s Brunch at Ledges State Park
Mike Meetz
“Loons of Isle Royale”

Program meetings are held monthly, September-May on Unless otherwise indicated, field trips leave promptly at
the third Thursday of the month at 7:30 pm, Room 8:00 a.m. from the public parking lot west of (behind)
2226 Veterinary Medicine Building, Iowa State the Ames Wild Birds Unlimited, located south of the
University, Ames, Iowa. railroad tracks at 213 Duff Ave. Trip destinations are
subject to change based on recent bird sightings and the
If you would like to meet and dine with the speaker and
desires of the participants. Contact Jeff Nichols at 515-
the BBAS Board before the monthly meeting, please
795-4176, for more information.
contact Lynne Brookes to confirm space and location at

In This Issue
Page 2 Officers and Committees Page 5 Wildlife Diversity Program
President’s Column Page 6 Christmas Bird Count Reports
Page 3 Nongame Wildlife Checkoff Page 7 New Members
Field Reports Future BBAS Programs
Page 4 Great Backyard Bird Count Membership Form
Central Iowa Prairie Network Coupons
BBAS Rummage Sale Page 8 The New Iowa Audubon
President’s Column

As I write this message, we are still in the pre-holiday hustle and bustle. But by the time you read this, the
holidays will be over for another year. I hope your holidays were filled with great times with family and friends,
you got everything on your list, and your hopes for 2005 materialize.
But more importantly, I hope that your spirit of giving and sharing your interest
and enthusiasm for the birds, nature, conservation, and the environment
continues with a renewed effort in 2005.
It is not too soon to consider new or different ways to accomplish this. Perhaps
invite someone new to a monthly chapter meeting or an upcoming field trip.
Consider assuming a future leadership role for the chapter. It is not too early to
think about our upcoming nominations for elections in May. It would be great to
get more members involved in guiding the chapter. Participate in the Great
Backyard Bird Count February 18 – 21, 2005. Join Iowa Audubon and help
support Iowa’s Important Bird Areas. I imagine you can come up with even more
Our Holiday for the Birds Party was great fun. If you missed it, you missed lots
of great food; great slides by Matt Weitrich, Dave Edwards, Karl Jungbluth, and
Hank Zaletel; and good camaraderie. And thanks to all who brought birdseed or
donated money for the McFarland Park feeders, and food items for the MICA food
pantry. Through your generosity, I delivered four large boxes of food to MICA.
I look forward to seeing you at our first meeting of 2005 on January 20th.

Best wishes for a wonderful 2005!

Note: A small cooler with ice packs was found at the McFarland Park Center on Friday morning after our party.
If this is yours, it can be picked up at the Center.
Linda Thomas

Big Bluestem Audubon Society

Officers and Committees
President: Linda Thomas 292-7534
Vice-President: Lynne Brookes 434-2028 Committee Chairs
Secretary: Bruce Ehresman 296-2995 Archivist: Hank Zaletel 382-427 Bird-a-thon Co-chairs: Karl and Carmen Jungbluth, 432-5057
Treasurer: Ed Carbrey 292-2404
Board Members Conservation Chair: Bruce Ehresman (See Officers)
Breanne Marpe 432-1231 Education Chair: Amy Yoakum, 232-2516
Jeff: Nichols 795-4176
Royce Bitzer 233-6741 Field Trip Chair: Jeff Nichols (See Officers)
Wolfgang Oesterreich 232-3285 (h) Membership Chair: Jon Bahrenfus 275-3263
Tim Grotheer 233-9873 Program Chair: Lynne Brookes (See Officers)
Publicity Chair: Linda Thomas (See Officers)
The mission of the Big Bluestem Audubon Society is to
Publications & Electronic Media Co-Chairs:
enjoy the observation and study of birds and natural David Edwards 292-3790
ecosystems, contribute to their conservation and Joyce Bahrenfus 275-3263
restoration, engage in educational activities to benefit
humanity, and gain a broader understanding and deeper BBAS Web Site:
appreciation of the world we live in.

2 Big Bluestem Flyer January/February 2005

Fish/Wildlife Tax Checkoff
Nongame Wildlife Needs Your Support.

Research and habitat management for game species such as deer, turkeys, waterfowl and pheasants are funded
through license fees, habitat stamps and income taxes. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Diver-
sity Program represents the 80% of Iowa’s wildlife that is not hunted. This program has no stable source of funding
and relies mainly on contributions from the public.
To make a contribution to the Wildlife Diversity Program and invest in the future of Iowa’s nongame wildlife,
remember to give to the Fish/Wildlife Fund (Chickadee Checkoff) on your state income tax form. Your contribution
will be used to conduct research and provide habitat management for Iowa’s nongame species and promote educa-
tion and enjoyment of those species to the public.
In recent years, contributions to the Nongame Program were used to conduct research and surveys on Iowa’s
frogs and toads, wintering bald eagles, heron rookeries, bats, and Iowa’s raptors. Public events such as Bald Eagle
Appreciation Days, Pelican Fest, and Hawk Watch, which attracted nearly 20,000 people, were also funded
through donations. Several publications on the appreciation of Iowa’s diverse wildlife
and management of it were distributed to thousands of people. With respect to Iowa’s
wildlife diversity, currently many are the beneficiaries of contributions by few.
Research of the Fish/Wildlife Fund (Chickadee Checkoff) shows an average $11.50
contribution from a mere 1% (approx.) of the population filing income tax. This man-
ner of funding does not match the level of management needed across Iowa. With 45%
of Iowa’s population over age 16 engaging in wildlife watching activities, there is
much funding potential to realize.
Please remember to tell your tax preparer that you would like to contribute to the
Fish/Wildlife Fund (Chickadee Checkoff). By donating a few dollars, you will be help-
ing in the conservation of 400+ nongame animals. Invest in Iowa’s natural beauty by
supporting its wildlife diversity. For more information please contact the Wildlife Di-
versity Program- Mark McInroy (Mac) 515-432-2823 office Iowa DNR Release by Mark McInroy

October Field Trip

On 24 October, under cloudy and windy conditions, 12 members and guests visited Big Creek
State Park and Saylorville Lake. We found very little at Big Creek SP so we spent most of the time
visiting various Recreation Areas at Saylorville Lake. A distant Peregrine Falcon was seen off of
Sandpiper beach and again at Oak Grove, where it flew right by us. We had excellent views of 2
Wilson's Snipes at a pond near the Sandpiper beach parking lot. On Saylorville Lake, we found
many Double-crested Cormorants and Ring-billed Gulls, and several Bald Eagles and American
White Pelicans. Hawks included: Sharp-shinned, Red-tailed, and Rough-legged. Below the dam were Steven D’Amato
many more pelicans and cormorants, plus 4 Great Egrets. We ended the day at Terra Park in Johnston,
where we added 7 waterfowl species to bring our trip list to 51 species.
Wolf. Oesterreich
November Field Trip

November 6. As so often happens, our original plans to visit a site (this time, Red Rock Lake
and Runnells Natural Area) were abandoned after hearing about some good birds elsewhere.
Fifteen participants traveled to Saylorville Lake in hopes of finding loons and grebes. We
easily found Common Loons, but the reported Red-throated Loon eluded satisfying views.
This species apparently prefers to stay on the “other” side of the lake. We did get good looks
Kirsten Munson
at Horned and Western Grebes as well as a new species for a Big Bluestem field trip:
Cackling Goose, a recent split from Canada Goose. We saw many of these mallard-sized geese at Polk City Wildlife
Area. We finished the outing with lunch in Polk City and a trip list of 55 species.
Jeff Nichols

January/February 2005 Big Bluestem Flyer 3

Great Backyard Bird Count
February 18-21, 2005
During four days in February, the Great Backyard Bird Count engages more than 100,000 people, who typically
submit more than 50,000 checklists containing more than 505 bird species and sightings of over five million
individual birds. Paul Green, National Audubon Society

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a family-oriented, enjoyable, and simple Citizen Science activity that engages
people of all levels of experience and expertise to count birds during four days at the end of winter. First held in
1998 it now involves more than 100,000 people, who may submit more than 50,000
checklists containing more than 505 bird species and sightings of over five million
individual birds. Participants enjoy watching birds, keeping a checklist, and submitting
their sightings online to a central website []. They can view lists of
birds seen in their local area, and compare their results with those of other birdwatchers.
With the accumulation of more information each year, the site provides a picture at the
local and continental scale that gives participants a good idea of how their local results fit
into a broader picture.
We designed the Great Backyard Bird Count to engage participants of all ages and levels
of experience from Scout troops and classrooms to refuge managers and ornithologists, and
encourage family participation. As a simple, entry-level, short-term project, this event
provides a gateway to other conservation activities.
We hope that by engaging people, and providing them with encouragement and
information, we will lead them into a lifetime commitment to conservation. The goals of the
Great Backyard Bird Count are to:
Develop a detailed database that produces real-time information on the distribution of species across the
• Involve those new to birding in this Citizen Science activity, count birds, use a computer to enter their
observations, and then compare the results of their observations with those of others.
• Provide opportunities for interactions between experts and those new to birding.
• Use this initiative as an introduction to other Citizen Science activities, such as the Christmas Bird Count.
The Great Backyard Bird Count provides a useful weekend snapshot of the populations of North American birds
at the end of the winter period, complementing those from the Christmas Bird Count at the beginning of winter.
The resulting information provides details of particular species, such as the irruptions of Common and Hoary
Redpolls that move south from Canada in large numbers in some years. The information gives details of
distribution and relative numbers of wintering species, and of early migrants. Of special interest is information of
declining species, such as Rusty Blackbird, as well as information about expanding species, such as Eurasian
Collared Dove. Every year the accumulation of data makes this information more valuable and meaningful as we
discover new patterns, new questions, and new insights.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint program of National Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Central Iowa Prairie Network

The Central Iowa Prairie Network winter meeting will be held January 29 at the DMACC conference center
(building 7) in Ankeny. The doors open at noon with the presentations starting at 1:00.
• Sibylla Brown (winner of the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award) will speak
on her savanna restoration project.
• Carl Kurtz will present a general prairie plant identification slideshow at the same
• Tom Rosburg will give a workshop on identifying the asters of Iowa.
• MJ Hatfield will present on the DNR native seed program along with some highlights
of her insect adventures.
• Harlan Ratcliff will present some of his beautiful butterfly pictures, and
• Chris Bair will have a display on landscape history records.
There will be a silent auction, with the proceeds going towards purchase of a tract of land
close to the Marietta Sand Prairie Preserve in Marshall County. Admission is free and the
program is open to the public.
Lloyd Crim

4 Big Bluestem Flyer January/February 2005

Good News for Wildlife Diversity Program Funding

For the first time since the inception of the Chickadee Checkoff over 20 years ago, Iowa’s Wildlife Diversity
Program will be receiving additional dedicated funding to nongame wildlife. Thanks to the action of Senator Mary
Lundby and the Iowa General Assembly earlier this year, fees will be raised for Iowa’s popular Natural Resource
vehicle license plates. Cost of new Natural Resource license plates will increase in January, 2005,
as will the cost of registration for those already owning the plates. The money generated from
these increases will be used to benefit Iowa’s 557 nongame species. The remaining cost of these
plates will continue to be used for Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program.
There are currently over 50,000 Iowans displaying the familiar goldfinch and wild rose license plates.
The new income generated from the Natural Resources license plate cost increase will now go the Wildlife
Diversity Program to act as match for federal funds received from the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program
(STWG). Since 2001 this federal program has provided about $770,000 to Iowa annually, which must be matched
dollar-for-dollar by state or private partner funds. Since Iowa’s WDP is one of the most underfunded programs
within the DNR’s Conservation and Recreation Division Bureau, these additional dollars will be crucial to
providing this required financial match. Below are examples of Iowa projects associated with these STWG matched
• Protected 240 acres of habitat for rare Greater Prairie-chickens at Kellerton Bird Conservation Area in
southwest Iowa.
• Protected a Bald Eagle winter roost site below Red Rock Dam in Marion County. This site hosts up to 250
eagles each winter.
• Protected 80 acres of oak-hickory timber for neotropical migrant songbirds and endangered Indiana bats at
Stephens State Forest, southeast of Des Moines.
• Protected 508 acres of riparian grassland, wetland and woodland habitat along the Middle River southeast of
Des Moines, for declining birds, reptiles and amphibians.
• Initiated a research project to learn more about the home ranges and movements of Iowa’s secretive bobcats.
• Initiated research on bird and bat interactions with a new wind energy generation facility situated between
three important public wildlife areas in north central Iowa.
• Initiated research on bird use of habitats at the Spring Run Bird Conservation Area in northwest Iowa and
in the northern Loess Hills.
• Initiated an inventory of reptiles and amphibians on the Lower Cedar and Iowa Rivers.
• Republished the popular booklet, “A Guide to the Bats of Iowa”.
Wildlife Diversity Program staff are excited about the potential use for this new funding. It will provide more
opportunities for wildlife research, species restoration, and habitat management and protection.
Wildlife supporters who do not already have this attractive specialty plate are encouraged to buy
one. To purchase it, motorists need to take their old plates and registration to their county treasurer.
Treasurers will send their annual renewal notices after that. The plate also makes a great present,
and you can go on-line at for a gift application form. The same web site can be used to renew
plates, as well.
Bruce Ehresman

Big Bluestem Audubon Society Rummage Sale in April 2005

Start sorting through items you would like to contribute to the April 9, 2005 BBAS Rummage Sale. This sale
will be a great opportunity to reduce clutter and recycle unwanted items, while also helping fund the conservation
and education activities of Big Bluestem. Watch for more information in the March/April BBAS newsletter.
Jeff Nichols

Newsletter Material Deadlines

Because we would like to have the newsletter to each member before the first day of its coverage, the editor
needs to have material at least two weeks before that. Hence the deadlines for the future will be the fifteenth
of February, and April.
Please be aware that editing your offering for length and style is sometimes necessary.

January/February 2005 Big Bluestem Flyer 5

Ames and Saylorville Christmas Bird Counts—Preliminay Tallies

Ames Saylorville Black-capped Chickadee 431 354

Double-crested Cormorant 1 1 Tufted Titmouse 1 16
Great Blue Heron 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch 36 11
Great Egret 1 White-breasted Nuthatch 175 121
Cackling Goose 9 Brown Creeper 16 10
Canada Goose 1904 569 Winter Wren 7 2
American Black Duck 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet 11
Gadwall CW Hermit Thrush 2
Mallard 90 979 American Robin 17 31
Canvasback CW 3 European Starling 3860 2146
Redhead 1 Cedar Waxwing 19 31
Lesser Scaup 1 American Tree Sparrow 131 619
Long-tailed Duck 1 Savannah Sparrow 1
Common Goldeneye CW 77 Song Sparrow 8 33
Hooded Merganser 1 Swamp Sparrow 4
Common Merganser CW 1000 White-throated Sparrow 9 31
Bald Eagle 24 White-crowned Sparrow 1 3
5 (9 ad15 imm) Harris' Sparrow 2
Northern Harrier 1 Dark-eyed Junco 786 1474
Sharp-shinned Hawk 4 4 Lapland Longspur 17
Cooper’s Hawk 5 5 Snow Bunting 40
Red-tailed Hawk 79 60 Northern Cardinal 269 482
American Kestrel 14 13 Red-Winged Blackbird 4
Peregrine Falcon 1 Western Meadowlark 2 (sp) 40
Ring-necked Pheasant 50 10 Rusty Blackbird 87
Wild Turkey 47 Common Grackle 1
Kildeer CW Brown-headed Cowbird 3 5
Wilson’s Snipe 1 Purple Finch 20 13
Ring-billed Gull 9000 House Finch 233 94
Herring Gull 1000 Pine Siskin 15
Lesser Black- backed Gull 1 American Goldfinch 252 175
American Coot CW House Sparrow 1092 702
Rock Pigeon 288 363 Sum 28979 20939
Mourning Dove 214 15 Species 54 67
Eastern Screech-Owl 1 5
Great Horned Owl 5 6 The Ames count was held on Saturday, December 18,
Barred Owl 7 9 2004 on an extremely windy and moderately cold day.
Long-Eared Owl 2 Most ponds and lakes were frozen, leaving little space
Belted Kingfisher 9 4 for water birds. Nevertheless, a variety of ducks and
Red-headed Woodpecker 1 geese were seen at Ada Hayden Heritage Park, some
Red-bellied Woodpecker 79 121 during count week (CW) but not on the count day. New
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2 2 to the Ames count history was the Cackling Goose, a
Downy Woodpecker 147 164 small variant of the Canada Goose. Note that the
Hairy Woodpecker 33 25 American Crow count remained the same as last year,
Northern Flicker 6 28 18,500. (Also, see page 7 for a special thanks.)
Pileated Woodpecker 2 Hardy birders who went out the next day to
Northern Shrike 1 2 Saylorville were met by very low temperatures and
continuing winds. Unusual sightings included Lesser
Blue Jay 63 126
Black-backed Gull and a late Great Egret.
American Crow 18500 748
The Boone count, to be held on New Years Day, will be
Horned Lark 52 2
reported in the next newsletter.
David Edwards

6 Big Bluestem Flyer January/February 2005

Clip and Join
Don’t forget gift memberships!

Membership Application forms

A special thanks to Wolfgang and New member of the National Audubon Society. You will
Leisha Oesterreich for hosting the post- receive the Audubon magazine, the Big Bluestem Flyer,
bird-count supper and social gathering
membership card. — $20
at the end of the Ames CBC day. It
made a pleasant ending to a hard Please make your check payable to National Audubon
day’s work. Society and include “Chapter Code H-57” on the check
Subscribe to the Big Bluestem Flyer for one year and
participate in some Big Bluestem Society Activities — $10
Restrictions are that you will not be a National Audubon Society
member or have voting privileges, and you cannot be an officer or
New Members committee chair. Please make your check payable to Big Bluestem
Audubon Society.
Reva Booth
Gladys Ebert Send your check and this coupon to
Doug Finnemore Jon Bahrenfus, Membership Chair
Rosemary Hall 1050 J Ave, Ogden, IA 50212
Edward Phillips
Karol Raby Name _______________________________________________
Mr. & Mrs. Melvin Vanderberg Address _____________________________________________
Alan Worthington City_____________________ State____ ZIP_______________
Kelley Weichers Phone ________________ E-mail _______________________
Please do not use this form for renewals to the National Audubon Soc.

Present the coupons below at the time of your purchase and a donation will be given to BBAS.
Donations will fund the various habitat restoration and educational projects undertaken by BBAS.

Brekke's Town & Country Store, Inc.

Donate 10% 1 1/2 miles east of I-35 on new U.S. 30 and 1/4 mile north
of Your Next Hours: 8-6 M-F, 8-4 Sat. (515) 232-7906
Purchase to
Purchase Donation
Big Bluestem Audubon Society Up tp $15 $1.50
Coupon must be presented at time of purchase $15 and over $3.00
May not be combined with any other offer
Not valid on specially-priced merchandise
$35 and over $5.00
Over $70 $7.50
Offer Expires: 02-28-05
Brekke’s offers Big Bluestem Audubon Society a donation
when bird seed or other bird products are purchased.
Present this coupon with your purchase and a donation will be
given to BBAS.
213 Duff Ave. Ames, IA 50010 (515) 956-3145
Mon-Wed 9:30-5:30 Thurs 9:30-8
Fri 9:30-5:30 Sat 9-5 Sun 12-4 Offer good until February 28, 2005

January/February 2005 Big Bluestem Flyer 7

The New Iowa Audubon

Iowa Audubon is evolving in a sincere effort to become an effective force for bird conservation in
Iowa. Some of the changes are obvious, like our new logo. For starters, Iowa Audubon is now ac-
cepting memberships. You can get an application at or from brochures at the
BBAS meetings. The added support of memberships will help us in our cause, so read on to see
why you’ll want to join!
Iowa Audubon is an independent, tax-exempt, member organization, with a mission to protect, restore and enjoy
Iowa’s natural ecosystems with a focus on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats. Its focus on bird conservation
fills a unique niche in Iowa.
Iowa Audubon is no longer the AudubonIowa state office of the National Audubon Society (NAS), a decision that
was made by our Board of Directors with input from Audubon chapters around the state. This change will allow
Iowa Audubon to focus on conservation initiatives that are specific to Iowa, and operate efficiently with a modest
budget (a fiscal necessity). All donations and membership dollars will stay in Iowa to work in Iowa, a factor that is
very important to some of our members.
The adopted Mission of Iowa Audubon is to identify, protect, and restore Iowa's bird habitats, to educate Iowa's
citizens toward a greater level of conservation awareness, and to promote enjoyment and greater pride in Iowa's
natural ecosystems, birds, and other wildlife.
If you have further questions about Iowa Audubon and what it is about, please take a moment to look at the de-
veloping website at At the present time, the primary focus is on building the Important Bird
Areas program, but soon there will be education efforts including supporting beginning birding classes around the
Karl Jungbluth and David Edwards

Vol 40 No. 3 Printed on Recycled paper January/February 2005

unless you renew.

issue of the Flyer
this will be your last
your mailing label,
after your name on
If you have an “X”

We welcome new members!

Ames, IA 50014
2308 State Ave
Ames, Iowa Big Bluestem Audubon Society
Permit No. 131 David C. Edwards, Editor
U. S. Postage Paid Big Bluestem Flyer
Non-Profit Org.