Despite Iowa’s lowest bird diversity in the winter months, there are many hidden treasures still to be found.

Owl diversity is at its height during the coldest months. In fact, all of Iowa’s eight regularly occurring owl species can be found by knowing where to look and when. A little luck also helps.

Half of our regular owl species typically migrate south in the winter from more northerly summer breeding grounds. Snowy and northern saw-whet are strict migrants, with no known Iowa nesting records.


  • Snowy Owls are showing signs of a minor to possibly major irruption. The last major irruption was in the winter of 2017-2018, which produced hundreds of sightings throughout the state.
  • Cedar Lake is a great place for watching gulls come in to roost about one or two hours before sunset. Oftentimes gulls will continue coming in to the roost even after sunset. Along with the common ring-billed and herring gulls, less common gulls include lesser black-backed gull, glaucous gull and Iceland gull. There are a couple reports of great black-backed gull at Cedar Lake as well.
  • The opportunities to photograph bald eagles are best at the height of winter cold. Look at low-head dams, Mississippi lock and dams and tailwater areas at reservoirs. Some popular spots in Eastern Iowa are the tailwaters at Coralville Lake, the Iowa River Trail by Iowa River Power restaurant, and Lock and Dam No. 14 on the Iowa side of the Mississippi. The best time to photograph eagles at the lock and dam is in the afternoon. Dozens of eagle photographers line the riverbanks of this location when the river and lighting conditions are best.






Related Sponsors

Support these BIKEIOWA Sponsors!

No comments have posted.

Leave a Comment

You must be signed in to leave a comment.