Click on a category for a list of reputable, fact-based links. Please contact us if you find broken links or have suggestions for additional website links.

Amphibians & Reptiles

Bald Eagles

  • USFWS: Bald eagle life history and conservation success.
  • Nature - American Eagle: This PBS produced, hour-long episode of Nature filmed by Neil Rettig shows the lives of eagles in the wild.

Birds and Bird Watching

Bird Migration

  • Raptor migration: Check out these resources to help you hawk watch, from the Hawk Migration Association of North America
  • Hawk Mountain: Learn about raptor migration from one of the best places in the US to see migrating hawks in the fall.
    ruby-throated hummer
  • Check out Operation Ruby Throat, a cross-disciplinary international initiative in which people collaborate to study behavior and distribution of the ruby-throated hummingbird.
  • Go here for info on cleaning your hummingbird feeder and for a make-at-home recipe for hummer food.
  • From KNIA - KRLS in Knoxville / Pella -- Dr. Bob Leanord's IN DEPTH: The Annual Bird Migration interview from 8/15/2012
  • Mark Martell, Director of Bird Conservation with Minnesota Audubon, got involved in a project that put satellite radios on pelicans at a very large colony in Minnesota (Marsh Lake). He currently has 4 birds online. Visit Audubon Minnesota to learn about collaborative efforts regarding research and conservation of the American white pelican. Minnesota Audubon is working on an interactive GIS map that will display the routes of all four birds -- check it out here.
  • Migration research from Craighead Beringia South including eagles, osprey, and red-tails.
  • Bird migration forecasts in real time at BirdCast from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Bird Population Surveys and Monitoring



  • Fish ID: This is from Wisconsin, but has a great glossary and search feature!

Geology, Rocks, and Coal Mining

Get Outside!

Habitat Restoration

  • How can you manage your prairie area? 

Controlled burning stimulates the growth of fire-adapted prairie plants while retarding the growth of non-natives.

  • Plan ahead - inventory existing prairie areas (determine management needs and goals, availability and need of labor and equipment, get advice or assistance from someone experienced in prescribed burning)
  • Burn once every three to five years (if no haying).
  • Burn only a portion of an area (allows wildlife to escape and invertebrates in the leaf litter to complete their life cycles).
  • Burn in early spring (reduces the chance of harming nesting birds and this is the best time to reduce non-native, cool-season grasses).
  • Burn in linear shapes if possible (allows easier escape of wildlife).
  • Avoid burning contiguous parcels in consecutive years (allows species to repopulate)
  • Mow or clear firebreaks the summer or early fall before the planned burn (allows for excess debris to disintegrate which makes a more effective fire break).
  • Minimize backfires (allows shorter exposure to a hotter fire at the surface).
  • Some prairies may have low need for aggressive management and should be left alone.

Mowing or haying simulates some features of grazing and are helpful and efficient in treating large areas of woody vegetation and alien weed growth.

  • Plan ahead - see the above Fire concerns.
  • Cut small subsections during the growing season.
  • Don’t initiate cutting until wildlife is done nesting (mid to late July).
  • Avoid haying/mowing contiguous parcels in consecutive years.
  • Some prairies may have low need for aggressive management and should be left alone.

Check these site for more info:

Insects, Spiders, & Bugs

  • BugGuide: Identification, images, and information for insects, spiders, and bugs in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Monarch Watch: Students, teachers, volunteers and dedicated researchers dedicated to the study of the Monarch Butterfly.
  • Download a regal fritillary butterfly life cycle poster from Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Learn more about the regal fritillary from Reiman Gardens.
  • Blank Park Zoo has a new conservation initiative to help protect our native pollinators! No effort is too small and each and every one of us can do our part to help pollinators thrive just by planting butterfly gardens in our yards! The Plant.Grow.Fly website has regional garden "recipes" to help you attract bees and butterflies.
Lead Awareness
Marion County, Iowa - Links for Educators and Students
Nest and Wildlife Cameras - Please note that once birds have fledged, cameras may be turned off

Plants & Soil

  • USDA PLANTS Database: Searchable, online database of plants found across the nation. Provides a 40,000-image gallery, state species checklists, and additional resources.
  • Soil Biology: Learn about the components of soil. 
  • Soil Education: Learn about soil from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
  • Dr. Dirt: These resources have been developed primarily for K-8 teachers and students. Hands-on, exploratory learning activities based on methods of scientific inquiry will encourage interest in science, soil, engineering, agriculture, and natural resources.
  • Iowa DNR Iowa's Threatened and Endangered Species Program - look for the link for the list of plants
  • Web resources from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation about soils, land use in Iowa
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources Garden Calendar - This monthly feature highlights native plant species that will thrive in and beautify your landscape as well as provide wildlife habitat!

Raptors, General

  • Characteristics: Check out the Peregrine Funds "Explore Birds of Prey" page to learn what makes a bird of prey (or raptor).
  • Raptor Resource Project: Learn about this Iowa groups efforts to help re-establish the peregrine falcon, also known for Decorah Eagle Cam.
  • Raptor Research Foundation: Check this page for general descriptions of the world's day-time or diurnal raptors and night-time or nocturnal raptors.
  • The Owl Pages: Everything from species lists and photos to owl physiology and rehabilitation.
  • OspreyWatch - for watchers and enthusiasts: This informative site comes from the Center for Conservation Biology and helps you learn more about osprey and where they are nesting.


  • Journey North has a smart phone app: Here's what a friend said about the app, "Yes the smartphone app Journey North has collects data for bald eagle sightings, daylight (hours of daylight), gray whale sightings, hummingbird sightings, monarch butterfly sightings (egg, larvae, pupae, adult), robin sightings, signs of Fall, symbolic monarchs (like people in costume). So, for me... I can see an adult monarch as I am driving, pull over, get out my phone and go to the app and log on, fill out the form and submit. It confirms, and then I am on my way again."

Trees & Forests

  • Trees Forever: This non-profit is dedicated to helping each of us improve and sustain the places we live, work, and play.
  • Arbor Day Foundation: Besides an on-line tree identification tool, also resources and information about the benefits of trees and picking the right tree to plant for your location.
  • Iowa State University Extenstion Forestry Interactive Tree Identification Key

Water & Water Quality


Weather, Stars, and the Moon


Wildlife Restoration

  • Osprey reintroduction efforts - Jump to the Photos page to see pics of osprey reintroduction efforts in Iowa.  Reintroduction efforts have been successful. Through 2012, nesting sites or nest building activity were documented in Black Hawk, Boone, Dickinson, Johnson, Linn, Monona, Polk, Warren, and Woodbury Counties. In 2012, 18 nesting pair of osprey had 14 successful nest attempts with 32 young produced. Since 1997, 282 ospreys have been released at 12 sites. The best news is that since 2003, 106 wild ospreys have been hatched at 66 successful nests!

Ospreys have always passed through Iowa on their migration trek, but no nesting had been documented since European settlement. Iowa has been involved in a restoration project with Minnesota and Wisconsin since 1997. The planning for these birds to be relocated in Iowa takes months, working off and on over the course of a year. The availability of young osprey for relocation is evaluated in early July. Approximately 42-day-old ospreys from Minnesota and Wisconsin are located in nests where more than one young exists. 

When the young osprey reach Iowa, they are checked out by a veterinarian and raptor rehabilitator and are held at a raptor rehab facility (like SOAR) to ensure each bird is eating on its own. The birds' next journey is to a hack tower. Here they were "hacked out," an ancient falconry technique of slowly releasing young birds back to the wild from a secure tower structure. They are provided with food and water as they learn how to fly and become proficient hunters.

When the birds are placed in the hack tower in July, there is much to do on their "growing up" agenda. They must be healthy, learn to fish, out-maneuver predators, learn their hunting territories and prepare for the long trek of migration to South and Central America by the first week of September.

The years 2005-2008 were contracted years between Marion County and the State of Iowa for osprey release and the opportunities continued on through 2011 in conjunction with other areas releasing. The Marion County osprey hack tower was constructed at Elk Rock State Park by Newton Correctional Facility Inmates, IDNR and Marion County Conservation employees, and volunteers. The tower was dedicated in memory of Gladys Black in 2006 as the Gladys Black Raptor Learning Site.

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