Iowa Citizens Help Track Imperiled Wildlife
It’s a Saturday morning by the river where a volunteer stands with binoculars trained on the tallest tree in the vicinity. In this tree is a one ton nest, home to two bald eagles and their young. Are there two or three young in that nest? Hard to tell and a follow up visit will be needed; in the meantime, notes are taken and a peaceful hour is spent watching one of the most spectacular birds in North America.
This volunteer was trained through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program (VWMP). Program Coordinator Stephanie Shepherd explains, “We just don’t have enough staff in the DNR to adequately monitor all the vulnerable species that we need to. This is where citizen scientists play a crucial role.” Every March, Shepherd travels around the state to lead training workshops that prepare folks to collect data on some of Iowa’s critical wildlife and she will be partnering with Sac County Conservation to host a Bird Nest Monitoring Workshop on March 19th at the Sac County Conservation Center, Hagge Park near Sac City, IA.
Last year Volunteer Wildlife Monitors collected data on over 160 Bald Eagle nests statewide. The training workshop on March 19th will prepare folks to safely observe and record data on a nearby Bald Eagle nest and then submit that data to the DNR. Monitors make at least three visits to the nest site between March and June and record the success or failure of the Bald Eagle pair to raise young. “This data collection requires lots of patience and some good optics in order to watch the nest from a distance and not disturb the birds,” Shepherd indicates.
If you are an adult who is interested in getting involved, registration is now open for the 2016 workshops! The Sac County workshop will be held on Saturday March 19th from 1 to 4:30 pm. Pre-registration is required and there is a fee of $5.00 to attend. For more information and to download a registration form visit: