A little one holds a pair of tiny binoculars up to his eyes, scanning the surrounding trees for movement.
He sees something. A small beak, round eyes and feathered wings tucked against its body.
The bird chirps its greeting to the rising sun, not noticing the boy looking at it from afar.
However, the child doesn’t know what kind of bird is welcoming the summer sun. He hasn’t learned how to tell the difference yet between the wide variety of birds in the Iowa Great Lakes region. Luckily, right next to him is a seasoned expert who can answer all the boy’s questions.
That’s what Dickinson County Conservation’s Birding on the Green events are all about, teaching people the beauty and wonder of birding. And it doesn’t have to be just children. Whatever your age, whatever your experience level, you’re invited to come birding 7 a.m. the first Monday of each month May-September at Brooks National Golf Club in Okoboji.
The event started as a partnership between the conservation board and the golf course, which wanted to become Audubon certified. To achieve that status, the course needed an active bird inventory. So the conservation board staff and local birding experts Lee Schoenewe and Ed Thelen lead a monthly bird expedition there during summer months.
“Over the years we’ve developed quite a list of birds,” Thelen said, and an average of 40-60 species are documented during each outing.
The first Birding on the Green of 2015 will begin 7 a.m. Monday, May 4, and then will be held 7 a.m. June 1, July 6, Aug. 3 and Sept. 14.
Simply bring a field guide and set of binoculars, or use ours when you get there, to get involved in this popular outdoor activity. Gerry Shuck has taken part in the event for several years and enjoys the laid back atmosphere and how it caters to people of all ages and experience levels.
“It’s interesting to see what’s in our backyard,” Shuck said, plus having an expert birder like Thelen or Schoenewe on hand to help identify species is a perk. “Brooks Golf Course is very gracious to allow us to use golf carts, so it’s easy transportation for all.”
Brooks National Golf Club features a variety of habitats, from woodland to wetland, so birders can mark off a large number of species from their birding checklists. You might see Canada geese, blue-winged teal and wood ducks on ponds throughout the course. You can spot sparrows, black-capped chickadees and robins fluttering about. You might even see the Kenue Park osprey flying overhead as you drive around.
If you’re new to birding, you can learn how to spot birds and the differences between their calls. If you’re an avid birder already, join in to help newcomers or to check off more species from your ongoing lists.
After Birding on the Green, stop inside the Dickinson County Nature Center to check out the Okoboji Osprey, Backyard Birding and It’s For the Birds displays inside.
For more information on anything bird related at the Dickinson County Nature Center, visit our website or call 712-336-6352.