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      The Newsletter of the

    LOESS HILLS AUDUBON SOCIETY     Volume 44: No. 1,  September/October 2017



 The Loess Hills Audubon Society meets on the first Thursday of the month at the

                 Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

                 4500 Sioux River Road (Highway 12 North)

                 Sioux City, IA 51109


                 Like us on Facebook:  Loess Hills Audubon Society


Mission Statement–The Loess Hills Audubon Society exists to educate individuals and the general public, to enjoy and promote birding, and to support ornithology, and to be an advocate for wild areas and environmental issues.




By John Polifka


     My first column since LHAS went into summer hiatus reminds me of the first day of school when the teacher assigned the “What I did this summer” paper.  Just because the LHAS was on summer break doesn’t mean that the birds were.

     In May, Sharon and I attended the Spring IOU conference in Chariton.  We managed to pick up a couple of “life listers” (Pine Warbler, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and Summer Tanager).  On the table outside the conference room were some free items.  I quickly claimed dibs on a 500-card Birding Trivia game with six bird-related categories.  One of the six categories is “Literary, Musical, Mythical”.  Question:  What Bird’s Tongue was the Delight at Roman Banquets?  Hint—the bird is flightless.  It probably had to be in order for someone to procure the tongue.  Seems to raise the question about what they did with the rest of the bird but Sharon says that I tend to over-think things.  If you guessed Peacock, you are correct.

     The birding event that we kind-of attended was the festival in Bayfield County, Wisconsin.  When we got around to looking into registering, all the tours we were interested in were already filled.  But my brother happens to live in Bayfield County, so we went anyway.  My brother is a retired pharmacist who plays piano at night clubs and churches.  He took Sharon and me to some nice birding spots in exchange for using us as “roadies” at one of his gigs.

     We participated in the Bird Breeding Survey (BBS) in the middle of June in the Washta and Correctionville areas.  The highlight was hearing many Bobwhites and actually seeing one picking up grit at the side of the road.

     Finally, the monthly LHAS “show and go” outings continued throughout the break.  We wanted so badly to see the Magpies at the July outing, but no such luck.  Maybe another time.




                                                CALENDAR OF EVENTS


Thursday, September 7—LHAS monthly meeting  DPNC.  Potluck supper 6:30 pm.  Bring a dish to share as well as your own table service.  Drinks will be provided.  Program at 7:30 pm.  “The Challenge of a Changing Landscape”,  Kevin Pape, Stone State Park Ranger.  Board meeting at 5:45 pm.  All are welcome to attend.

Saturday, September 30—Show and Go Outing.  We will meet at the Northwest corner of the Super Walmart parking lot on Singing Hills Blvd. at 7:30 am.  An email will be sent shortly before the 30th to advise you of the probable destination and lunch plans.  Our web site outings page will also be updated at that time.  Contact Jerry Von Ehwegen at or 276-1546 for more information.

Thursday, October 5—LHAS monthly meeting.  DPNC.  7:30 pm.  Program:  “Shorebirds” presented by Steve Dinsmore, Iowa State University Department of Natural Resource Ecology & Management.  Board meeting 6:15 pm.  All are welcome to attend.

Saturday, October 14—Show and Go Outing.  We will meet at the Northwest corner of the Super Walmart parking lot on Singing Hills Blvd. at 7:30 am.  An email will be sent shortly before the 14th to advise you of the probable destination and lunch plans.  Our web site outings page will also be updated at that time.  Contact Jerry Von Ehwegen at or 276-1546 for more information.



DOROTHY PECAUT NATURE CENTER                                                                              

Exit 151 I-29, Take State Road 12 North for 4 miles to the Nature Center.  To register for events or for more information call 712-258-0838  Or check our website –

Wednesday, September 6—Akron Farmer’s Market Conservation Night 5:00-7:00 pm.  Local conservation organizations will host information booths at the Akron City Park as well as local grown foods.

Friday, September 8—Monarch Butterfly Tagging in the Prairie  6:00 pm.  We will search for any migrating monarchs and hope to tag them on their journey to Mexico.  Wear sturdy walking shoes and meet at the Talbot Road entrance to the Sioux City Prairie.  Free!  The prairie is located approximately mile north of the Military Road & Talbot Road intersection in Sioux City.  Event is sponsored by The Nature Conservancy in Iowa and Woodbury County Conservation Board.

Tuesday, September 12—Nature Tales  10:00 am.  DPNC.  Pre-schoolers, join us with an adult for this special story time.  We’ll hike too, weather permitting.  Please pre-register by calling 712-258-0838 or email

Friday, September 22—Loess Hills Heritage Youth Poster Contest applications due  4:00 pm.

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, 4500 Sioux River Road, Sioux City, IA 51109.  See alternate sites for each county in the Loess Hills at

Saturday, September 23—NATURE CALLS  6:00-10:00 pm.  Sioux City Convention Center.  Fundraiser featuring beer & wine tasting, nature art & charity auction to raise funds for the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center.  Call 712-258-0838 for tickets or purchase online at

September 22-24—Nature Center closed for Nature Calls.

September 23-October 1—Loess Hills and Heritage Week.  Celebrate the Loess Hills!  Check online at for a listing of activities found throughout the seven county Loess Hills region in Iowa.

Sunday, October 1—Prairie Wildflower Walk  1:00-3:00 pm.  Mount Talbot State Preserve, Stone State Park.  Celebrate Iowa’s Loess Hills and Heritage Week!.  Join wildflower enthusiast Rich Pope as he leads us on a walk to find fall prairie bloomers and grasses.  Wear sturdy walking shoes and dress for the weather.  Meet at the east entrance of Stone State Park to travel north along Talbot Road to Mount Talbot State Preserve.  Pre-registration is appreciated.  Contact Dawn Snyder at 712-258-0838 or

October 2—Loess Hills Heritage Youth Poster Contest Winners Announced.

Tuesday, October 10—Nature Tales  10:00 am.  DPNC.  Pre-schoolers, join us with an adult for this special story time.  We’ll hike too, weather permitting.  Please pre-register by calling 712-258-0838 or email

Sunday, October 15—Sauntering with Jack Phillips/The Naturalist’s School  1:00-4:30 pm.  DPNC.

A Saunter is a way of walking in wild places that creates space within ourselves as nature opens before us.  A saunter is for human adults, for the nourishment of body and soul.  Our method of sauntering seeks to deepen native intimacy and contemplation of nature.  For a contribution of $20, participants will receive a copy of “A Pocket Guide to Sauntering” and an afternoon of walking contemplation, writing, and inspiration in the rugged Loess Hills.  Wear sturdy shoes and bring a notebook.  Please register by Monday, October 9 by contacting the nature center at 712-258-0838.  For more information contact or visit







Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is located 1 mile west and mile south of I-29,. Exit 4 in South Dakota.  For information and pre-registration, call (605) 232-0873 or e-mail

Little Naturalist Program—Fridays September 15 and October 20  The Little Naturalist program is for toddlers ages 2-4 years old and their parent or guardian.  Kids learn about the outdoors through games, crafts, activities and stories.  Classes start at 10:00 am.

Tag the Monarchs Thursdays—September 14 and 28.  6:00 pm.  Monarch butterflies take an incredible journey during the fall season.  Join us as we monitor and tag the monarchs as they migrate their way down to Mexico.  All ages will enjoy this program.  Please pre-register by calling the visitor center.



PLYMOUTH COUNTY PARKS  Hillview Park is located west of Hinton, Iowa at 25601 C60.  For information and registration call Victoria at 712-947-4270 or e-mail or visit us on Facebook  at Plymouth County Conservation or our website at

Knee High Naturalists program is for young children and their caregivers.  Each program is held at Hillview Park in the Center for Outdoor Learning at 10:00 am.  Cost is $3.00 per child.  Please register by the day prior to the program.  Outdoor activities will be modified if weather conditions are not favorable.  Please dress for the weather.  September 23—Birds of a Feather.  October 21—Going Batty.

September 23—Sunset and Dinner on the Bluff  5:30-7:30 pm.  Celebrate Loess Hills and Heritage Week with a short (but steep) hike at Five Ridge Prairie.  Learn about the unique Loess Hills landform found in western Plymouth County and enjoy a picnic dinner on the bluff overlooking the Big Sioux River.  Pre-register by September 21.  Cost is $15/person.

October 14—Halloween at Hillview and Fall Festival—Farmers Market/Craft Vendors 2 pm – 6 pm  Kids Games and Activities 4 pm – 6 pm;  Phaze One Photo Booth 4 pm – 8 pm;  Trick-or-Treating    6 pm – 8 pm;  Haunted Hike 8 pm – 9:30 pm.  The Friends of Plymouth County Conservation want to celebrate fall in a big way again this year. Help us to raise money for a new playground on the south side of the park.  Volunteer, make a donation of baked goods, pumpkins, cash by calling Diana at 712-947-4270.  Campers will hand out candy for trick-or-treaters.  See the website for all the particulars.


                                                      LHAS OUTINGS

                                 By Jerry Von Ehwegen

Saturday, 13 May 2017  Our May outing was our annual Birdathon.  See following article for details.  A summary of the Birdathon and a listing of the species seen can be found on our web site on the Birdathon page.

Saturday, 10 June 2017  Bob & Phyllis N., John & Sharon P., Paul R., Anne S., Jan N., and Jerry V., participated in our June outing.  Skies were mainly clear but strong winds and morning temps in the 70’s that rose to the mid 90’s later in the day were a challenge for spotting birds.  Even so, we found some good birds and recorded a total of 69 species for the day.  We made stops at Dairy Ponds South, Owego Wetlands, and Fowler Forest Preserve in the morning and then stopped at the Polifka’s country home just east of Smithland for a great lunch and some more good birds.  One car made a short stop at Southwood and a couple of other areas on the way home.

Highlights included Willow Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Western Kingbird, Grasshopper Sparrow, Singing Ovenbird, and Scarlet Tanager at Fowler (neither seen however), and at the Polifka’s, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at their feeders, and Paul ‘talking’ to a Northern Bobwhite.  The entire species listing can be found on the Outings Highlights Page on our web site at  Thanks to all who participated and many thanks to the Polifkas for the great lunch including tasting some good homemade wine.

Saturday, 8 July 2017  Bob & Phyllis N., Bill & Dotty Z., John & Sharon P., Jeanette H., Anne S., Pat J., Jerry P., Brian H., Pete V., Ed S., Jan N., Jerry V., and newcomer Cheryl Mildenstein participated in our July outing.  It was a beautiful morning with a temperature of 60 degrees and a light breeze under mostly cloudy skies.  After a late morning shower, skies cleared and temps warmed up to the upper 80’s later in the day.  We met 4 other birders at the Broken Kettle Grasslands area where we birded various areas until it was time to break for lunch at the Zales’ home nearby.  We were treated to a delicious lunch of grilled brats and other goodies topped off with Bill’s famous soft home-made ice cream which included the option of root beer floats!  Cuckoos and other birds were heard singing and some seen flying around in the prairie and woods nearby.  Bill’s hand-made caboose built for housing his all white pigeons was a new attraction to enjoy at their home.

We recorded a total of 62 species for the day.  Highlights included:  Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Black-billed Cuckoo, Grasshopper Sparrow, Bell’s Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Western Kingbird, Eastern Meadowlark, and a very cooperative Sedge Wren singing while perched on a fence post and wire along the beautiful prairie.  We also spotted a lone Bison grazing near the road.  The entire species listing can be found on the Outings Highlights Page on our web site at:  Thanks to all who participated and many thanks to the Zales for hosting us for lunch at their beautiful prairie home.

Saturday, 19 August 2017  Bob & Phyllis N., Anne S., Paul R., Cheryl M., Rex R., Gary H., Jan N., and Jerry V., participated in our August outing.  It was a beautiful morning with a temperature of 49 degrees, clear skies, and calm conditions with some patchy fog.  Temps rose to the low 80’s later in the day with a light breeze.  Our first stop was New Lake where we found a few shorebirds and a few big waders among several other species.  Our next stop was Snyder’s Bend where we had a Great Egret perched in a tree.  A walk down the trail to the overlook produced a surprise Green Heron that gave us a couple short looks at its flying skills.  A stop at Sandhill Lake gave us looks at swimming and flying American White Pelicans.

One car had to make an early departure, but the rest of us enjoyed lunch at the Sloan Subway before we made our final stop at Owego before calling it a day.  We were treated to a White-faced Ibis and Blue Grosbeaks there.  We recorded a total of 66 species for the day.  Other highlights included Western Kingbird and Wilson’s Snipe.  The entire species listing can be found on the Outings Highlights Page on our web site at  Thanks to all who participated.


                                                          BIRDATHON 2017

       Birdathon was held on May 13th this year.  We had 10 teams who collectively saw 162 species of birds that day.  That compares to 9 teams and 174 species in 2016.  This year we have collected $763.00 so far.  If any of you pledged money for Birdathon but have not yet paid your pledge, of course, it is never too late.  That compares to $595.00 collected last year.  Thanks to all of you who make Birdathon fun AND a good fundraiser for Loess Hills Audubon Society.


                                                      AUDUBON BIRD FOOD SALE

     Soon it will be time to start thinking about feeding the birds, especially if you haven’t been feeding them all summer.  We will be selling bird food again and a separate mailing with a new price list will be emailed or sent out about mid September.  We hope to attract many new purchasers this year, so be thinking about who you can encourage to buy from the Loess Hills Audubon Bird Food Sale!  Remember, the profits help to support our activities and programs.  Questions can be directed to Dotty or Bill Zales at



                                            VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

TREATS—Carol Blair, our social chairman, will have a sign-up sheet at the September meeting.  She is asking for volunteers to bring items, i.e. cookies, cake, veggie tray, popcorn, snacks of all kinds.  If we can have 3 volunteers for each meeting we will have enough to go with the coffee, tea, and hot chocolate beverages without putting a burden on anyone.  Many hands make the job easier, so please volunteer for a meeting.  First Thursday of each month October, November, January thru May need providers.  December everyone attending brings treats.

PRAIRIE SEED HARVEST  Bill & Dotty Zales are hosting their 8th annual Seed & Feed prairie seed collecting event on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 15384 North Ridge Road, Westfield, IA.  Rain date will be the next day, Friday, September 29.  We’ll collect seed from 2:00 until dinner at 6:00 pm.  Bring clippers, gloves, bug spray & water.  Please RSVP if you plan to help.  Call or text Dotty at 712-540-0952.

STONE STATE PARK  National Public Lands Day is Saturday, September 30.  This is a nationwide event to encourage citizens to volunteer in their parks, forests, and preserves.  Stone State Park is participating and would like your help from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm.  Meet in the parking area across from the park office.  Bring work gloves and water.  You can help pull or cut Honeysuckle.  All tools will be provided including weed wrenches and bow saws.  If you have a favorite saw, please bring it.  Honeysuckle is a woodland invasive plant with red berries that is spreading throughout most natural areas in Iowa.



Excerpted from Time Magazine!!  “Birdbrain” is a misnomer.  New studies show that birds have remarkable cognitive skills.  Of the dozens of families of birds, there are three that have attracted the most research into intelligence:  Corvids (crows, jays, magpies):  Psittacidae (parrots, parakeets) and Cacatuidae (cockatoos).  Crows have long been known as adept tool makers.  A pair of investigators showed that ravens have not only the cognitive ability to master tool use, but also the temperamental ability to use that skill to its best advantage. The parrot’s ability to mimic and understand human speech is impressive. Karl Berg, a professor of avian ecology at the U of Texas Rio Grande Valley, is conducting studies in South America recording parrot calls.  He is uncovering a complex vocabulary that allows the birds to convey information about food, predators, and mating and other relevant matters. No bird is going to displace humans as the smartest critters on the planet, but the research work is nonetheless a reminder that our familiar, self-flattering equation—big thoughts require big brains—is a myth.  There are elegant brains and nimble brains too, and they are home to equally elegant and nimble minds.




                                    MEMBERSHIP PAYMENT PROCEDURE

                                      By Donna Popp

 For Renewals, send your dues to:  National Audubon Society, PO Box 97194, Washington, DC 20090-7194.  Be sure to put on the check which should be made out to National Audubon Society, our chapter identification H52.  For new memberships,  send them to me with a check made out to National Audubon Society and the H52 identification.  The renewal memberships begin at $20 and the new memberships are $25.  Anything above the $20 is, of course, much appreciated.  This has been a difficult transition and I hope that National has this straightened out.  I know that many members whose memberships were to have expired in the fall of 2016 are still on the roster.

If you have any questions, please contact me at 712-274-1979 or


                                                       Loess Hills Audubon Society

                                                            Membership Application




City___________________State_____ Zip__________



Introductory 1 year membership $25

Make check payable to National Audubon Society and send to:

                    Donna Popp, 630 Surrey Lane, Sioux City, IA 51106

                               CHAPTER OFFICERS


President John Polifka 712-253-2138


Vice Pres./Progs. Rex Rundquist 712-251-0345 or 712-255-3136


Secretary Sharon Polifka 712-212-5395


Treasurer Jeri Watkins 712-389-6342


Membership Donna Popp 712-274-1979


Newsletter Anne Shaner 712-252-2182


Iowa Audubon Rex Rundquist 712-251-0345 or 712-255-3136


Conservation Bill Zales 802-275-4716 (text only)


Education Jody Moats 712-490-5570


Outings Jerry VonEhwegen 712-276-1546


Bird Food Sales Bill&Dotty Zales 712-568-1006


Social Committee Carol Blair 712-948-3350


Publicity Dawn Snyder 258-0838or898-9168


Birdathon Czar  Vacant


Audubon Adventures Gary Heineman 712-428-6443


Naturalist Jody Moats 712-490-5570


Past President Bob Livermore 712-301-8880


Website Jerry VonEhwegen 712-276-1546