Iowa's Forest Birds
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Although Iowa’s landscape is known primarily for its prairies and fields, its forests are teeming with bird life throughout the year. Forests and open savannas are thought to have covered about 18% of Iowa’s land area prior to widespread clearing in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Today forests cover around 7% of the land area in the state. Despite this relatively small footprint, these forested areas are disproportionately important for biodiversity conservation, supporting a broad roster of plant, insect, and animal diversity found within Iowa’s borders. Such is certainly the case with bird life, where we find more than 150 bird species use Iowa’s forest at some time during a year. For many of these bird species, the prairies and fields of Iowa’s countryside are of no concern, as they spend all their time in our wooded valleys and ridges. For some, this residence may be an annual visit from the far north, or a return to a natal home each summer from distant wintering sites in Central and South America. No less, the forested ecosystems of Iowa’s river valleys, hillsides, and ridgetops are essential features to the birds, who for many Iowans set the soundtrack for enjoying Iowa’s natural resources afoot, on trail, or afloat. Understanding forest birds and the impact of forest management requires an understanding of what birds are found in the forests, how they use the forest, and how management practices can impact the things they need. This article will explore those themes and offer guidance on making the most of forested acres for Iowa’s birds.
Janke, Adam; West, Benjamin; and Dinsmore, Stephen, "Iowa's Forest Birds" (2020). Extension and Outreach Publications. 821.
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