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.
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.