Wild turkey. Ring-necked pheasant. Trumpeter swan. Turkey vulture. Northern bobwhite. These are the remarkable birds of Iowa's rural landscapes. They're large, conspicuous, and broadly recognized. These species, and a few more, are those most associated with rural life and synonymous with our experience on the farm. However, I submit that to the trained eye, and ear, the bird that most symbolizes Iowa's countryside is not these charismatic familiar species, but rather, the unremarkable yet fascinatingly remarkable Dickcissel.
There seem to be no limits to the creative capacity of nature lovers, so one can find design specifications for structures for anything from a turtle to an osprey. Many different shapes, sizes, and designs are available for ‘bird houses’. Boxes for secondary cavity nesters also come in all shapes and sizes to target dozens of species in Iowa.
In February of 2018, wildlife biologists and veterinarians investigated the suspicious death of 32 trumpeter swans in a Clinton County wetland. This incident, and others, has prompted interest in finding ways to reduce lead exposure and curtail these unnatural deaths.
If this spring revitalization were a cast of characters, I think we’d agree that geese and robins play the leading role. But my favorite, and perhaps one of the most undervalued supporting characters in this annual revival, is the American Woodcock.