Birding the Sedan Bottoms in Appanoose County

by Tom Johnson

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The Sedan Bottoms describes an area along the Chariton River in southern Appanoose County. Some of this land has been in private wetlands for years but the area received a big boost in 1997. The Mellon Foundation donated $1,000,000 to the Conservation Fund who worked with the D.N.R. to purchase 2,600 acres was where the historic town of Sedan was located. This was a company town where pickles were raised and the railroad was located. Another 1800 acres has been added to the site since. An abandoned railway right-a-way provides an excellent foot path and the historic Morman trail crossing is found on the southeast side of the area.

Birds of the Sedan area are found on public and private land. Sharp-tailed Sparrows have been abundant in the Buckshot Lake area the last two falls. In 2000 and 2001 as many as 12 birds were found at one time for a three week period. Yellow Rail has been found twice in the last four years. Snowy Plover in 2001 provided one of the few Iowa records. Shorebird areas should be good in most years because of the extensive areas available. Red-Necked Phalarope and White-Faced Ibis were seen in 2001 and they were the first reported ever in Appanoose County. All regular herons and egrets are found during migration. Swainson's Hawk has been spotted a few springs. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was seen 2000 all summer with an immature in late June. Black-crowned Night-Heron was seen all last summer. Sora rails are seen in large numbers (78 in one day last fall) and Virginia Rail is present.

Regular species are the Pileated Woodpecker (unusual for South Central Iowa), Lark Sparrow, Short-eared Owl, and Marsh Hawks. Upland areas contain typical species such as Scarlet and Summer Tanager, Kentucky Warbler, American Redstart, Louisiana Waterthrush , and Willow Flycatcher. Prothonotary Warblers have been seen on a private wetland in the area for at least 7 years and some years 3 or 4 pairs have been found. Northern Mockingbirds have been found a couple miles north of the Sedan area for most years. One of the most reliable areas has been on 560th St. and 250th Ave. intersection. Henslow's Sparrows are found at the intersection of 570th St. and 265th Ave. Golden Eagle has been found at the Missouri-Iowa line 0n T30 a few miles east of Sedan 2 of the last 3 winters.

The Sedan Bottoms Wildlife Management Area and private wetlands are found south of Moulton, Iowa on Highway 202 for about 2 miles then turn east on 570th St for 2 miles The private lands are south off 570th on 300th Ave. to 590th stand the east for one-half miles and observe from the road . Go south again for about one-half mile on 300th and walk to the top of the dikes to observe these private wetlands to the east. Don't go too far south or you have just started your Missouri list . Private wetlands along the Chariton are being developed here also. A few miles north of the Sedan area and bisecting the Chariton River again is Sharon Bluffs State Park. This is an excellent area for warblers, vireos, flycatchers, and thrushes during migration. Summer residents include Acadian Flycatcher, Cerulean, Kentucky, and Northern Parula Warblers. Summer and Scarlet Tanagers are also summer residents. Lake Rathbun and surrounding areas have great birding areas and wetlands are found in the western portions of the lake.

Map labels
  1. Mockingbird area - upland pasture
  2. Cement Pad - Scope to the east or walk east 300 yds. to shorebird area
  3. Railroad right-of-way - Walk east - first mile is most productive
  4. Buckshot Lake area - outstanding area for Sharp-tailed Sparrows in fall. Walk area with tall rubber boots for rails etc.
  5. Deciduous areas for warblers and vireos.
  6. Deciduous areas for warblers and vireos.
  7. Shallow marsh - Ducks and rails
  8. Prothonotary Area- along road in tree area. Low water and shorebirds can be great. Can view from top of dike.
  9. Sharon Bluffs - Oak-Hickory forest and nature center
  10. Henslow's Sparrow - Stop and listen.
© Iowa Ornithologists' Union 2000