Iowa, sandwiched between two major river systems in the center of the upper Midwest, gives birders a little bit of everything. Iowa is home to a variety of stunning native bird species. In Iowa, more than 431 different species of birds can be spotted at various periods of the year.
Birds of Iowa comprises species that have been documented in the United States of America’s state of Iowa and have been accepted by the Iowa Ornithologists’ Union (IOU). As of August 2021, the official list contains 431 species. There are 91 accidental species, 29 casual species, eight introduced species to North America, three extinct species, and one extirpated species.
The eastern goldfinch, commonly known as the American goldfinch and wild canary, was named the official state bird by the General Assembly in 1933. It was chosen as the state bird because it is abundant in Iowa and frequently remains throughout the winter.
Iowa birds of prey
In the spring and fall, from trails along wooded cliffs overlooking the Mississippi River, you may witness hawks, ospreys, and bald eagles glide over the river.
Hawks, eagles, kites, harriers, and Old World vultures are all examples of birds of prey. These birds have enormous hooked beaks capable of shredding flesh from their victims, strong legs, sharp talons, and acute vision. In Iowa, fifteen species have been identified.
Golden eagles are most common in Northeastern Iowa’s bluff land from November through March.
More information about these birds can be found in the section below.
Eagles in Iowa
Eagles are awe-inspiring creatures to observe. They soar high, swoop in quickly to pluck lunch from the water, and they are a sight to behold.
Iowa is home to numerous bald eagles, which appear to be everywhere throughout the winter months. If you live in Iowa, you can continue to see them on a regular basis while out and about during the dead of winter. Look up in the trees if you come across a stream or a lake.
Additional eagles can be found in the section below. If you’re interested in learning more, simply click the link for an expanded article on each!
Owls in Iowa
Iowa is home to nine distinct species of owls. You may not have seen them all before, as two — the short-eared owl and the barn owl — are state endangered, and one — the long-eared owl — is a state threatened.
Let’s examine some of the most fascinating facts about each species, and if you’re interested in learning more, simply click the link for an expanded article on each!
Common backyard birds of Iowa
Birds in Iowa range from the more common Black-capped Chickadee to the less common Yellow-headed Blackbird. The American Goldfinch was named the official bird of Iowa in 1933.
The following is a list of lovely common backyard birds found in Iowa, complete with photographs and identification. Additionally, we added information on the frequency with which the birds are observed, as well as the time of year during which they are observed.
Woodpeckers in Iowa
While birdwatching in the woods and forests is the best way to see woodpeckers in Iowa, some species such as Red-bellied, Hairy, Downy, and Northern Flickers can be seen at home feeders.
There are about 300 species of woodpeckers worldwide, with approximately 22 species present in the United States. I’ve discovered that Iowa has seven species of woodpeckers out of the 22. Several of these seven species are year-round residents of Iowa, while others visit on a seasonal basis.
Make sure to read all the way to the end, as we’ll discuss ways to attract woodpeckers to your yard.
Best Birdwatching Spots in Iowa
Due to Iowa’s location between the two major migratory flyways of the Missouri River Valley and the Mississippi River Valley, birders can watch the passage of a variety of species that do not nest in the state but pass through during the spring and fall migrations. Additionally, Iowa is a state at a crossroads. Numerous southern birds, including yellow-throated and worm-eating warblers, spend the summer in Iowa.
When the majority of people think of Iowa, they immediately think of its remarkable agricultural productivity. However, above those fertile fields sits one of the best birdwatching locations in the country.
Here are the 5 spots you can visit for birdwatching.
- Saylorville Reservoir
- Lacey-Keosauqua State Park
- Cone Marsh
- Waubonsie State Park
- Red Rock Reservoir
Other Iowa birds
Birds are found throughout the world. Perhaps you simply enjoy sitting in your backyard or peering out the front window. While feeder operations may attract birds close enough to observe many features, you may be amazed at how many species are visible nearby simply by gazing in the trees, shrubs, and sky. Consider the following other birds that may be found in Iowa.
If you have encountered a bird in Iowa that is not yet on our list or that you cannot identify yourself, we’ll be happy to identify it for you. Simply take a picture of it and upload your picture, a quick description and the U.S. state where it was found here on our bird identification page.