We wanted to create a site that utilized local resources - both people and places - around Lake Red Rock, provide reliable and trustworthy links and information, and to motivate students and others to become more self-driven, knowledgeable, and aware of the environment.
To help us reach this goal, your input is needed and valued! Please take a few minutes and complete our 10-question evaluation here at SurveyMonkey! Thank you from all of us that work with the Gladys Black Environmental Education Project.
Three cameras are placed below the Lake Red Rock dam, one pointed to the dam, one to the river, and one downstream towards Horns Ferry Bridge. We only see one camera view at a time. Each camera also digital zoom, but there is no IR (infra-red) camera to provide night video.
back to top
What a fascinating little bird, the chimney swift. As a child, learning to identify birds is not scientific, but putting memorable thoughts into remembering the name and behavior makes it much simpler. This swift, is commonly referred to as “the flying cigar!”
The 5-inch little bird has a short, squared tail and the crown of the head seems flattened. The wings are long and pointed and the bird flies in quick spurts. The bird’s tiny feet are helpless in land travel, but can cling to the sides of rough edges like a stone or brick chimney. If you live in an urban community, the twittering sound of the swift is commonly heard in the summer. They fly high, scooping up thousands of insects, in which they are totally dependent upon.
Like many species of birds, habitat decline is a concern. According to Minnesota Audubon, swift populations have dropped more than half in the United States since the 1960s. Nesting and roost sites were mainly hollowed out trees, and as these sites became less available the birds quickly adapted to the stone and brick chimneys found in many older homes. Chimney swifts are another neotropical migrant. These tiny birds are one of many that leave this area for another. The chimney swifts migrate to the Amazon Basin, leaving early in the fall and not returning until late spring when insects become more plentiful. Swifts are such a natural investment into insect control, but also raise eyebrows when seeing them entering a chimney at dusk.
- Learn more about chimney swifts
- Check out this site dedicated to chimney swifts
- Chimney swift identification and life history
- Listen to the sounds of the chimney swift
- Learn more about chimney swift conservation, chimneys, and working with chimney sweeps
- Chimney swift tower plans
- Sherman Swift Tower
- Althea Sherman's swift tower is upright again! Read this Cedar Rapids Gazette article about restoration efforts and upcoming plans!
- The Reader's Digest Book of North American Birds suggests that a long-lived chimney swift may cover more than one million miles before it dies.
- If insects are not flying due to weather changes, the swift can go into a temporary dormancy so bodily functions are decreased and less food (energy) is needed.
- The chimney swift uses it's sticky saliva to glue nesting material together and to attach it to the side of a chimney or silo.
Sally and Leland Vander Linden were instrumental in the development of the Gladys Black Memorial Garden in Pleasantville, Iowa, dedicated in 2004. Cora Shadle Memorial Park holds a dedicated garden, including a 20-foot chimney swift tower, a shelter with an interpretive display about Gladys’ life, a butterfly garden, bird feeders, birdhouses, a nature trail with a bridge over a ravine and pond and a bed of daylilies, which happened to be one of Gladys’ favorite flowers.
These photos show building and the different interpretive panels around the building. Photos from Cecelia Mesecher.
The calendar says spring, but on 4 May there are parts of Iowa with snow on the ground. The animals know it's spring and many are in the midst of mating and nesting or even have begun to rear their young. "Stuff" happens and sometimes the wildlife parents and young become separated -- sometimes this is normal -- but how do you know. Check out these links to learn more!
- National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association -- Help I've Found a Baby Bird
- National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association -- Help I've Found a Baby Mammal
- Sometimes we find birds that are not babies -- What should I do if I find an injured raptor in Iowa?
- Learn more about Raptor Rehabilitation
- Contact your local county conservation board or Iowa DNR Conservation Officer to locate the nearest wildlife rehabilitator.
Check out this group formed in 2011 to help young people experience the joy and wonder of finding, seeing, and identifying birds! The Iowa Ornithologists Union is helping to sponsor birding field trips for young people age 8-18 in conjunction with their spring and fall meetings. Check out the details and the Iowa Young Birders website for other field trip opportunities! <jealous!>
Learn more about this new Iowa Department of Natural Resources initiative here. Register with the program and record your outdoor activities in Iowa parks and recreation areas with each recorded activity a chance to win outdoor gear in a drawing. The site also has a search feature for finding outdoor activities in Iowa.
The "Gladys Black" eagle pair had one nestling again this year! Thanks to Cecelia for the photo!
We should all observe good raptor nest viewing etiquette. Here are recommends from Raptor Resource Project, along with links for more info!
Remember that raptors are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and bald and eagles have additional protections under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
- USFWS mandates safe viewing of bald eagle nests of at least 330 ft away
- Respect landowners and do not trespass.
- If you see raptors on the ground, do not approach or feed.
- I begin life in the water.
- I go through metamorphosis.
- I have more toes on my hind legs than I do in the front.
- I can lay hundreds of eggs at a time.
- I am about 6 inches long.
- 10 Tips for Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids - The Big Outside blog
- Learn more about the Iowa Tribe's Grey Snow Eagle House - National Geographic 4/11/13
- Ospreys offer clues on the environment - Richmond Times 4/11/13
- Osprey migrates from Brazil to New Hampshire - AOL.com news 4/11/13
- City looks for falcons to chase away downtown pigeons - wcfcourier.com 3/19/13
- Plenty of web sites to scratch eagle cam itch - Madison.com 3/17/13
- A creepy, crawly insect zoo at Iowa State - Iowa State Daily 3/15/13
- SOARing with eagles - Mason City Globe Gazette 3/12/13
- Bird-friendly Farms Catching on in Cali - National Geographic - 2/20/13
- Cedar Rapids osprey nesting effort may turn bald eagles into bandits - Cedar Raids Gazette 2/26/13
- Do Early Outdoor Experiences Help Build Healthier Brains? Psychology Today 2/6/13
- Restoration of historic bird observation tower advances - Cedar Rapids Gazette 12/27/12
|March 7- end of May
||Birding Basics program at Gray's Lake in Des Moines every Wednesday 11-11:45 am. Visit DSM Park & Rec Facebook page for details.
|May 17||Endangered Species Day!|
|May 31 - June 2||Loess Hills Prairie Seminar, near Onawa, Iowa. An annual for many years now and is a great for families, individuals, and teachers!|
Visit MyCountyParks.com to check out a park or wildlife area you might want to explore managed by one of Iowa's 99 county conservation boards! Look here for events and activities, too!
Learn about the Clean Water Act from this EPA story - Clean Water Act: Protecting and Restoring our Nation's Waters - and celebrate the 40th year of this law.
Louise Chawla, professor of planning and urban design at University of Colorado, discusses the importance of children having access to nature. She's after our hearts!
The Grass Stain Guru's 10 Thoughts on Restoring Childhood