on Thursday, February 18, 2021
Bird feeding station at the Cedar Falls Visitor Center
It probably goes without saying that taking a break in nature is refreshing and a stress-reliever. Birding (or bird watching) offers additional benefits. It is challenging and rewarding with glimpses of amazing creatures, each with their own behavior patterns, color and habitat.
What are a few benefits of birding?
1 Connect with nature
Like the calming sound of rain, the sounds of birds going about their daily activities can be soothing, easily making the time outside a time of contemplation. You’ll quickly find a connection to nature no matter which season you choose to do your birding. For example, you'll find that spring is a time of migration. In the summer, you’ll find goldfinches flocking to the prairie near the Cedar Falls Visitor Center.
2 Discover new scenery
Travelers will find new species in a variety of locations away from home and throughout the Cedar Valley. Birding takes place on trails, in state and county parks, along streams and in local prairies, allowing you to discover new scenery. This also presents fun challenges. Where will you find the elusive indigo bunting? Will you discover how birds communicate or where their favorite habitat is located? What will you find at Big Woods Lake that you won’t find at Prairie Lakes? By exploring, you’ll identify behavior patterns of different species and discover favorite spots you'll want to visit again and again.
3 Sense of community
Birding is a great way to make friends. The Prairie Rapids Audubon Society offers an opportunity to connect with like-minded birders and they host free bird walks as well as offer assistance in finding favorite, local bird species.
Did you know that more than 200 species of birds have been identified at Prairie Lakes Park near the Cedar Falls Visitor Center? This is just one of our local birding hot spots. More hot spots can be found at eBird.org. By the way, the visitor center is a natural gathering place for birdwatchers. It's often used as the starting point of nature walks and the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society manages the bird feeders behind the visitor center which sits adjacent the prairie. The Prairie Rapids Audubon Society also provides binoculars and bird cards at the center for visitors to check out on a daily basis.
There are more than 3 reasons to begin birding, but we hope this piques your interest. Here are some resources and activities to get you started on your birding hobby.
Project FeederWatch, fall/winter (The Cornell Lab)
The Great Backyard Bird Count, February (The Cornell Lab and Audubon Society)
Christmas bird counts (Iowa Ornithologists' Union)
Laminated bird identification cards
Coat, water, hiking shoes
Cedar Falls Visitor Center – laminated bird identification cards and binoculars are available for check out at the visitor center and these items are cleaned after every use.
Prairie Rapids Audubon Society
Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) (their Facebook and Twitter feeds also feature information about local birds)
Iowa Ornithologists' Union
eBird Hot Spots (find the number of bird species spotted in a variety of local hot spots)
Audubon Society (site includes an event page, virtual field trips, volunteer training and birding webinars)
In 2020, Cedar Falls was named as Iowa's seventh bird-friendly community. Birders enjoy the local recreation and impact our local economy by dining out and staying overnight.
The Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau is also a partner in educating visitors, residents and businesses about bird strikes. Preventing bird strikes is an initiative of the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society which is made up of local citizens. Residents and businesses are encouraged to learn more about adopting bird-friendly practices and should contact Candace Havely at firstname.lastname@example.org. Candace is also interested in learning whether area hotels experience window strikes during bird migrations in the spring and fall. More information can be found at Bird Friendly Iowa.
The city of Cedar Falls has also written a 2021 blog post about our recent bird-friendly designation. You can read it HERE.
We’d like to thank the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society for faithfully filling the bird feeders throughout the year at the Cedar Falls Visitor Center.
Looking for Places to Eat & Drink and Things to Do? Contact the Cedar Falls Visitor Center at 800-845-1955 or stop by at 6510 Hudson Road and pick up a trail map and visitor guide.
Photo by Tom Schilke of the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society
- outdoor rec
- things to do
- things to see