Ed Thelen calls warblers “little jewels of the timber.”
The northwest Iowa birder loves their high-pitched musical calls, their vibrant colors, their exoticness.
The vast majority if warblers simply migrate through the Iowa Great Lakes area, and this is the perfect time to see them. Join Thelen and Dickinson County Conservation Board naturalists 8 a.m. Saturday, May 14, for the Warbler Walk during Wings and Wetlands Weekend.
An average of ten to fifteen warbler species are usually sighted at the annual event that begins at the Marble Lake boat ramp, just north of Moeller’s Marine on 240th Avenue in Spirit Lake. Document species such as Tennessee warblers, American redstarts, common yellowthroats and yellow-rumped warblers. You might even see some rarer species like blue-winged warblers.
“That would be neat to see a rarity or two, and that can happen,” Thelen said.
Although it’s nice when the weather cooperates, even a little rain won’t make for a bad hike during the 21st annual Wings and Wetlands Weekend. Warblers usually feed in the tops of trees, giving many bird watchers “warbler neck,” but rain can drive insect species lower and warblers will then come nearer to the ground to feed.
In addition to warblers, birders will be able to check a variety of other species off their bird lists, including diving ducks, vireos, flycatchers, thrushes and more. Bring your own binoculars or borrow a pair when you arrive.
Two juvenile owls will be on hand as naturalists talk about these top avian predators that call Iowa home. Learn about the adaptations that help this nocturnal bird survive year-round.
People will get the rare opportunity to see these beautiful creatures up close, from their bright eyes to their sharp talons.
“See details you don’t see from a distance,” said naturalist Mary Petersen. “That creates a greater respect for the animal.”
The program will also cover what to do if you see injured or orphaned wildlife, such as the owls that will be featured during the discussion. During the spring, many people want to help baby animals they find outside, especially species such as deer and rabbits.
However, sometimes human help is actually harming these animals.
“Their parenting behavior is different than humans; they basically leave their babies alone,” said naturalist Charles Vigdal of deer and rabbits. “A lot of people think they’re abandoned, and they’re not. These people are taking babies away from their moms.”
“We don’t always see what’s going on,” Petersen said.
Petersen and Vigdal will discuss what to do when you see a baby animal in the wild or how to respond when you see an injured adult animal.
From warblers to owls to discussions on animal rehabilitation, Wings and Wetlands will be full of entertainment and information.
For more information on Wings & Wetlands Weekend or other programs offered by the Dickinson County Conservation Board, call 712-336-6352 or visit the conservation board's website. You can also keep up with the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.