Projects Funded by the IOU

Supporting Research, Conservation & Education

  • Observation Platform at Pintail Wetlands, Hardin Co. - Photo by Candace Havely
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  • Cerulean Warbler documentation in Effigy Mounds/Yellow River Forest BCA - Photo by Tamara Lewis
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  • Raptor Banding at Hitchcock NA, Pottawattamie Co. Jerry Toll removes a Sharp-shinned Hawk from the net - Photo by Phil Swanson
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  • Chimney Swift towers for an existing swift colony, Orange Elementary School, Waterloo - Photo by Tom Schilke
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  • Northern Saw-whet Owl Migration Monitoring - Photo by Jean Martin
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  • Purchase of Kaufman field guides by Springbrook Conservation Education Center, Iowa Department of Natural Resources . "The information included in these guides is a vital part of our teaching, and we very much appreciate your generosity!" Photos by AJay Winter
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  • Iowa and Illinois Young Birder Day on the Mississippi River - Photo by Linda Rudolph
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  • Cerulean Warbler Occupancy Study - Paul Skrade leads Iowa Young Birders through appropriate habitat where they confirm nesting - Photo by Tyler Harms
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  • Barn Owl Nest Boxes at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, Polk Co.
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Funding for natural history projects, be it research, habitat restoration, or land acquisition, is not always easy.  Although we are not a wealthy organization and money available each year is dependent on the number of IOU members, we are proud of some of our recent accomplishments of partnering with other funders to make a difference for Iowa's birds.  The table below shows the projects funded. If you would like to help fund some of these interesting projects, please 1) make sure you have joined the IOU or renewed your membership and 2) donate additional money to the Projects Fund.  

124 Projects Awarded Since 2007 - $82,947
2023 - Total: $5,000
Madison County Conservation Board$500The project that we are requesting funding for is the purchase and installation of a Motus tower at Pammel State Park. This tower would be an addition to the Motus Wildlife Tracking System throughout the world. This system uses radio telemetry to track many bird species, along with other animals, and plays a crucial role in their research. This helps researchers learn more about migratory information, stopover sites, breeding information, and much more. Our organization’s goal is to be part of the effort of having towers expand across Iowa. There are currently only 7 stations in Iowa. We also plan to use the data from our project, along with other towers, as a tool for additional education programming in our new nature center. This state-of-the-art facility will be opening in the upcoming months. We are requesting $5100 for this project; partial funding will be accepted.
Buena Vista County Conservation ~ Katie Struss$497Buena Vista County Conservation’s goal in purchasing the egg replicas is to raise awareness and provide education about local birds to all residents of Buena Vista County. The naturalist sees on average over 9,000 Buena Vista County residents a year. She does programming in all six schools districts, local libraries, care centers, civic groups, ISU Extension, public events, and more. Report
Sac County Conservation Board$300Birds Eye View will allow us to purchase and have live stream cameras available for viewing 24/7. The goal of our Birds Eye View project is to educate Sac County residents about the feeding habits and nesting habits of the birds of Iowa.
Iowa Bird Rehabilitation$1,000"Building Four New Outdoor Aviaries at Iowa Bird Rehabilitation" 3108 49th St., Des Moines, IA 50310 Project Start/End: May 1- 31, 2023 Project Goals: We plan to build four new aviaries: one for hummingbirds, one for small songbirds, one for an American Kestrel (education bird, non-flighted), and one for a Short-eared Owl (education bird, non-flighted). Under the guidelines set by the Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation (National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council), the proposed aviaries are: Hummingbird 2'W x 4'L x 6'H Small Songbirds 2'W x 4'L x 6'H American Kestrel (educational bird, non-flighted) 3’W x 3’L x 3’H Short-eared Owl (educational bird, non-flighted) 6’W x 6’L x 7’H How our project benefits and increases the understanding of Iowa birds: Our organization specializes in the rehabilitation of Iowa's wild bird population. IBR benefits Iowa's wild bird population through rescue and rehabilitation work; we also involve communities locally and across Iowa by helping the public to understand bird behavior and how to co-exist with birds. Our primary mission is bird rescue, rehabilitation, and release. Last year we had 1,819 admissions and released 710 healthy birds back into the wild (the remainder of the birds either died before intake, during rehabilitation, were transferred, pending, or euthanized). Each year our numbers increase 20-25%, some years more. As we grow in the number of admits, we are also improving the quality of our care by building facilities and outdoor flight cages to accommodate our growing number of birds. In the past four years, we have created two free-standing buildings dedicated to bird care, added a nursery and medical area, and erected six new, larger aviaries. We have state and federal permits to rehabilitate all songbirds, waterfowl, game birds, shore birds, and small raptors. Out of the 1,819 admissions last year, we took in 91 unique species of birds, from tiny Ruby Throated Hummingbirds to the large American White Pelicans. We have started to collect more and more data each year for each bird we care for, hoping to use the data for future research and conservation projects. In addition to benefiting Iowa's wild bird populations, we are committed to engaging the local community and concerned citizens across the state. Last year we took in birds from 797 unique individuals, mainly from the Des Moines metro area but also from places such as Fairfield, Burlington, Fort Dodge, Clear Lake, Council Bluffs, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Winterset, and several small towns throughout the state. We also provide volunteer opportunities for bird lovers and currently have over forty volunteers who help with bird care, rescue, transport, and administrative duties. We take as many as fifteen to twenty-five calls daily during peak season. During these calls, we are answering questions about birds and being able to assess if a bird needs our help
Polk County Conservation Board$803Polk County Conservation will be conducting avian surveys of Brown's Woods Park in West Des Moines, IA. Brown's Woods has had little active management in recent years and PCC has put together a management plan highlighting information needs to help guide management decisions. An updated avian inventory is one priority that will be completed this year. A combination of migratory and breeding bird surveys will be performed, as well as some vegetation analysis to determine current bird use of the park. This standardized survey will be able to be repeated in future years to determine impacts of vegetation management on the bird communities of Brown's Woods. The results will also help guide management decisions to enhance habitat for any species of special concern found utilizing the park.
Tallgrass Prairie Chapter of the Iowa Audubon Society$400The common nighthawk has adapted well to urban habitats, where city lights draw abundant insects, expanding the bird’s hunting window, and where flat pea gravel rooftops have provided a suitable nesting substrate. Recently, many building rooftops have transitioned toward rubberized or otherwise membraned roofs, leaving fewer suitable gravel nesting sites for the birds which have come to rely upon them. The degree to which this trend in roofing has impacted nighthawk populations is unclear, but anecdotal evidence suggests they are not as abundant as they once were. Many members of the Tallgrass Prairie Chapter (TPC) of the Iowa Audubon Society and longtime residents of Grinnell have noted a marked decrease in the city’s populations. More concretely, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, US nighthawk populations have decreased an estimated 48% between 1966 and 2019. It is reasonable to presume that such declines may be due in part to the transitioning of flat gravel rooftops to membrane surfaces. Following the construction and monitoring methods found in the “Project Nighthawk Nest Patch Handbook,” a 2008 publication of New Hampshire Audubon, this project aims to determine whether nighthawks will use small artificial nesting pads installed on rubberized rooftops, and if so, to what degree the method is practical for repetition on a larger scale. If this project is funded, we will construct pea gravel nesting pads of approximately 81 sq. ft. on flat urban rooftops and employ volunteer citizen scientists to monitor them throughout the summer. To our knowledge, no other efforts of this kind have been initiated elsewhere in the state.
Friends of the Ledges, Inc.$1,000Ledges State Park Invasive Shrub Removal IOU funds would be used as part of a large project to remove invasive shrubs from the habitats of Ledges State Park in the fall of 2023. Surveys indicate that heavy stands of honeysuckle, barberry, autumn olive and multiflora rose are degrading over 60 acres of Important Bird Area habitat. The project would utilize resource management crews from Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa (CCI) to remove the heaviest infestations in the fall of 2023, using funding from a number of other sources. Volunteer work crews from Friends of the Ledges and other groups will remove invasive shrubs from less heavily infested areas, and monitor and follow up on invasive shrub control after the CCI crews have left for years to come. IOU funds would be used to purchase tools and safety equipment for these volunteer crews. Community members and local landowners will be invited to the park while CCI crews are working; to learn techniques, methods, and theories behind invasive species removal. This newly formed coalition will increase the Friends of the Ledges’ capacity to serve the park and its visitors. This resource management work is essential to keep habitats in Ledges State Park healthy and diverse; a place that will keep unique birds, and birders, coming back to central Iowa for a years to come.
Iowa Young Birders$500People, especially youth, are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature resulting in negative impacts on both physical and mental health as well as a lack of appreciation of nature and environmental issues. Therefore, developing creative ways to encourage engagement with nature among youth and their families is imperative for garnering support for conservation efforts. As hubs for resources and information in their respective communities, public libraries are ideal vehicles for providing the tools (birding backpacks) and educational materials to build accessible opportunities for community-centered education and increased awareness about Iowa’s birds and Bird Conservation Areas among youth and their families. Iowa Young Birders received a grant from the Iowa DNR Wildlife Diversity Program to deploy 10 birding backpacks in 5 public libraries across Iowa as a pilot in the spring of 2023. We intend to expand the initial pilot effort by deploying an additional 8 birding backpacks in 4 partnering public libraries strategically located near areas designated as either Iowa Audubon Important Bird Areas and / or Iowa DNR Bird Conservation Areas. Each birding backpack will include two pairs of binoculars, a field guide, a smartphone digiscoping adapter for the binoculars for individuals to photograph birds or other wildlife they see, and educational materials specific to each Bird Conservation Area located near the partnering library, all of which will promote self-guided engagement with Iowa's birds and natural areas. Our Education Programs Assistant will develop kid-friendly educational materials about each Bird Conservation / Important Bird Area, including information about focal species and public parks and wildlife areas within each area, to accompany the backpacks. This project will allow us to provide the expertise in developing educational materials and self-contained packs that encourage nature engagement while leveraging the capacity of local libraries to distribute and advertise the availability of these resources. We intend to compile usage statistics (e.g., total number of loans, number of loans to unique library visitors, etc.) as a way to evaluate the success and impact of this project. This project will help propel us towards our goal of deploying birding backpacks in all public libraries located within or near Bird Conservation and Important Bird Areas in Iowa and, ultimately, in all of Iowa’s 543 public libraries.
2022 - Total: $2,996
Mitchell County - Chelsea Ewen Rowcliffe$579Funding for a feeder station Report
Western Illinois University - Gbenga S. Dairo$761A study to determine if food supplemented Prothonotary Warblers are more effective at preventing cowbird parasitism and nest takeover by House Wrens
Western Illinois University - Nicholas R. Vozza$472Continuation of Prothonotary Warbler parasitism study
Madison County Conservation Board - Tanner Donovan$200Provided partial funding for Barn Owl boxes Report
Western Illinois University - Matt Scerbicke$984An investigation of nest usurpation by House Wrens, the most significant source of nest failure in Prothonotary Warblers in southeast Iowa Report
2021 - Total: $5,000
Caswell - Heather Sander$1,125Derecho effects on breeding birds in Palisades-Kepler State Park Report
Paul Skrade$1,000ongoing Cerulean Warbler research Report
For the good ole birds$1,935Feeders for assisted living communities
Niccolas Vozza - Western Illinois University$940Cameras for monitoring Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes Report
2019 - Total: $4,999
Sac County Conservation Board$500Knee High Naturalist: All About Birds program
The Community Academy$535Summer Experience 2019 - Brookside Park Trail Restoration
Kyla Yuza-Pate, Iowa State University$400Iowa State University Bird-Window Collision Carcass Survey
Benton County Conservation$1,000Fen acquisition
Louisa County Conservation$450Owl Nesting Boxes & Owl Education
Melody Campbell, Iowa State University$528The Effects of Anthropogenic Noise on Stress in Urban Birds and their Nestlings
Patrick Page, Nicholas Vozza, and Brian D. Peer, Western Illinois University$336Why me? Assessing Factors that Determine Cowbird Parasitism of Prothonotary Warblers
Joe Frieden, Upper Iowa University$500Song Variation of Territorial Male Bobolinks in Intentionally-Grazed Pastures
Sioux County Conservation Foundation (SCCF)$250Sioux County Nature Center: Bird Watching Station
Paul Skrade, Upper Iowa University & Winneshiek County Conservation$500American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) Nest Box Placement & Monitoring Along Winneshiek County Secondary Roads
2018 - Total: $5,000
BioEco Research and Monitoring Center, Clinton County Conservation Board$340Building Even Better Birders Field Classes
Bird Friendly Iowa (BFI)$700Establishing Bird Friendly Iowa Communities Report
Jones County Conservation Board$900Purple Martin Complex Gourd & Interpretive Signage Addition
Louisa County Conservation$308Langwood Education Center Bird Blind Feeders Report
Monroe County Conservation Board$514Bird's Eye View Feeding and Viewing Station Report
Palo Alto County Conservation Foundation Board$345NatureWatch Bird Egg display Report
Ringgold County Conservation Board$500Dragoon Trace Nature Center – Outdoor Learning Environment Report
Elliot Stalter - University of Iowa$393Research, A Window of Opportunity: Measurement and Prevention of Migratory Bird- Window Collisions in Iowa City
EmiLee Novak, Upper Iowa University$500Research - Song Variation of Cerulean Warblers in Northeast Iowa Report
Brian D. Peer, Western Illinois University$500Decline of the Prothonotary Warbler: Are Front-line Defenses Effective in Reducing Cowbird Parasitism?
2017 - Total: $9,072
Buena Vista CCB$900Bird viewing station in Buena Vista County Park Report
Cerro Gordo CCB$289Nature’s Window: Bringing the Outdoors In. Microphone system to record and broadcast audio from the wildlife and waterscape just outside the visitors center. Report
Mills County CCB$230Bird feeders for Pony Creek Nature Center Report
Mitchell County Environmental Education Foundation$339Nesting camera and bird photo booth at the Milton R. Owen Nature Center to provide visitors with video of resident nesting and feeding birds Report
Allamakee CCB$500Permanently mounted viewing scopes for the Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center (near Lansing, IA) Report
Sac CCB$400Junior Naturalist Bird Day Camp 2017: Scope and tripod for use through the year, and owl pellets and classroom guides for Summer Day camps Report
Clinton CCB$750Building better birders field classes: Salary, mileage, and marketing classes to provide bird ID and survey courses for new birders/surveyors in Clinton County. Report
Friends of Jones County Conservation and Nature Center$350Birding Explorer Pack: Explorer backpacks with binoculars, field guides, children’s books, sketchpads, and colored pencils included. To be checked out by family campers, families, youth groups, and school classrooms who visit the Fox Den Nature Center. Report
Jaime Coon, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign$1,014Research - Grassland birds, an invasive grass, and arthropods: exploring food web relationships using a long term avian dataset.
Brian Peer, Western Illinois University$800Research - The Prothonotary Project: Field equipment and supplies for conducting research and creating nest boxes for Prothonotary Warblers on the Mississippi River near the Quad Cities. Report
Jesse Ellis and Garret Forgey, Coe College $400Research - Eurasian Tree Sparrow Dispersion in the Cedar River Valley, Mileage for volunteers conducting Eurasian Tree Sparrow and House Sparrow surveys. Report
Des Moines CCB$1,600Research - The Purchase of a SM3BAT Song Meter to Survey Species Diversity at Big Hollow Recreation Area Report
Jackson CCB$1,500Prairie Creek Recreation Area – Wetland Development: For creating 35 acres of new wetland and pollinator prairie habitat. Report
2016 - Total: $9,273
Grace Vaziri, Iowa State University$990Research Project: Gut Parasites of Iowa Song Sparrows
Jones County Conservation Board$500Binoculars and Field Guides for Birders
Stephanie Allers, Western Illinois University$485Research Project: Brown-headed Cowbird Affects on Host Species Report
Mills County Conservation Board$400Spotting Scope Report
Dallas County Conservation Board$240Field Guides for Owl Education Program Report
Hardin County Conservation Board$500Elevated Observation Tower @ Pintail Wetlands
Cherokee Conservation Board$731Outdoor Classroom-Bird Blind
Hawkeye Area Council-Boy Scouts of America$800Bird study @ Scout Camp-Education Materials, Supplies for Building Feeders, etc. Report
Western Illinois University-Nahant Marsh$984Habitat Restoration for Prothonotary Warblers at Nahant Marsh
Dallas County Conservation Board$2,440Purple Martin Houses for Four Different Locations in Dallas County (Special Memorial Funds in honor of Tom Lawson) Report
Johnson County Conservation Board$355Binoculars for Bird Programming Report
North Cedar Neighborhood Association, Cedar Falls$408Chimney Swift Tower for Habitat Maintained by Neighborhood Association and North Cedar Elementary School
Orange Elementary School$4402nd Chimney Swift Tower for Orange Elementary School - Additional Habitat for Existing Flock of 200 Swifts
2015 - Total: $5,187
Johnson County Conservation Board$350Field Guides for Programming Report
Orange Elementary School, Waterloo, IA$500Chimney Swift towers for an existing swift colony Report
Iowa Young Birders$250Field Guides for Iowa Young Birder Participants Report
Woodbury County Conservation Board$200Equipment for raptor education at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center Report
Hitchcock Nature Center$250Northern Saw-whet Owl Migration Monitoring Report
O’Brien, Clay, Emmet, Palo Alto, Dickinson CCBs & Union Slough$1,000Publication of a revised map and guide to "Birding: The Iowa Prairie Lakes Region" Report
Henry County Conservation Board$440Improvements to facilities for education raptors @ Oakland Mills. Report
MacBride Raptor Project$150Improvements to bird blind feeding station Report
Jackson County Conservation Board$216BioBlitz & breeding bird survey at Prairie Creek Recreation Area Report
Ewalu Camp & Retreat Center$250Birds & birding environmental education class Report
Hardin County Conservation Board$500Observation Platform at Pintail Wetlands Report
Mitchell County Conservation Board$331Avian audio experience Report
Dr. Paul Skrade$750Cerulean Warbler Occupancy Study Report
2014 - Total: $4,420
Jon Stravers - Driftless Area Bird Conservation$700Cerulean Warbler documentation in Effigy Mounds/Yellow River Forest BCA Report
North Cedar Neighborhood Association$200Bird and wildlife sanctuary in Cedar Falls Report
Iowa Young Birders$250Iowa and Illinois Young Birder Day on the Mississippi River
Pottawattamie County Conservation Board$500Hitchcock Hawk Watch and Raptor Banding Report
Mitchell County Conservation Board$250Education supplies for beginning birders Report
Polk County Conservation Board$200Barn Owl nest boxes at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt Report
Pat Schlarbaum - Iowa DNR$500Falcon River Trip
Allamakee County Conservation Board$250Optics for Conservation Environmental Education Program Report
Nahant Marsh Education Center$350Migratory bird obstacle course and education
Mahaska County Conservation Board$400Binoculars for beginning birders Report
Jackson County Conservation Board$600Breeding bird survey of newly acquired land prior to habitat restoration Report
Mines of Spain - Iowa DNR$220E.B. Lyons Center addition and development Report
2013 - Total: $5,000
Tyler Harms$1,000Grassland Bird Nesting study in Polk Co. Report
Jon Stravers$750NE IA Cerulean Warbler Monitoring Report
Pottawattamie County Cons. Bd.$750Hitchcock NC Raptor Banding Projects Report
Madison County Cons. BD.$600Pammel Park Bird Blind Report
Ringgold County Cons. Bd.$500Avian Education/Nature Center Report
Mitchell County Cons. BD.$500Binoculars for Beginning Birders Report
Allamakee CCB$400Peregrine Falcon Education Report
Mills County Cons. Bd.$350Pony Creek Park Bird Blind Report
Springbrook Conservation Ed. Ctr.$150Field Guide Purchases Report
2012 - Total: $8,000
Iowa Young Birders$1,500A new non-profit organization encouraging younger Iowans to consider birding and to enhance their appreciation of the outdoors. Report
Woodbury CCB$1,000Raptor enclosure at Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center. Report
Hurstville Interp. Center$500Construction of a Chimney Swift tower. Report
Iowa Wildlife Center$500High Trestle Raptor Project Report
Iowa County Cons. Board$500Bird I.D. Teacher Pack at Lake Iowa Park. Report
Lee County Cons. Board$500Keokuk Bald Eagle Days celebration. Report
Courtney Duchardt$500Study of grassland bird nest site selection in Ringgold County. Report
Jon Stravers$2,000Cerulean Warbler monitoring project in NE Iowa. Report
Chad Graeve$1,000Hitchcock Hawkwatch raptor banding projects. Report
2011 - Total: $5,000
Timothy Lyons$1,360Study effects of a fire-grazing interaction on the nesting ecology of a grassland songbird Report
Ron Huelse$1,500Gladys Black eagle nest cam project Report
Jonathan Meerbeek$600Monitor and evaluate the ecological conditions of Iowa’s shallow lakes, pre- and post-renovation
Chad Graeve$1,540Hitchcock Hawkwatch raptor banding projects
2010 - Total: $3,000
Quad City Audubon Society$1,000Winter 2010-11 Milan Bottoms Bald Eagle Night Roost Monitoring
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation$600Story County Habitat Protection and Restoration
Iowa DNR$400Monitoring and Evaluating the Ecological Condition of Iowa’s Shallow Lakes Report
Hitchcock Nature Center$900Hitchcock Hawkwatch Raptor Banding Report
Anna MacDonald$100Avian community composition and habitat use within watersheds of contrasting annual-perennial vegetation configurations
2009 - Total: $3,000
Mitchell County Conservation Board$1,250Farm-land purchase
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation$1,000Purchase of a 168-acre parcel in Story County composed of remnant prairie and adjacent to other protected property
Pottawattamie County Conservation$750Hitchcock Hawk Watch Report
2008 - Total: $2,000
Friends of the Sherman Swift Tower$1,000Re-creation of the Sherman Swift Tower in Clayton County
Larry Stone & Jon Stravers$1,000Gladys Black book
2007 - Total: $6,000
Winnebago County Conservation Board$2,000Purchase of 105 acres of critical habitat along the Winnebago River Greenbelt
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation$1,500Purchase of 93 acres of critical habitat on the east side of Big Spirit Lake in Dickinson Co.
The Nature Conservancy of Iowa$1,750Habitat improvement and evaluation at the Broken Kettle Grasslands in Plymouth Co.
Pottawattamie Co. Conservation Board$750Raptor banding research at the Hitchcock Hawk Watch Report