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The Owego Wetlands Complex is a 1,311-acre public area located approximately three miles northwest of Hornick, IA. in Woodbury County. The complex is comprised of primarily Luton clay soil, a heavy, wet hydric soil conducive to wetland development and difficult to cultivate. The area is named after the abandoned town site of Owego contained within its boundaries. It has been officially recognized as one of Iowa's Important Birding Areas (IBA).


The Owego project began in 1998 and since that time the Woodbury County Conservation Board (WCCB) has been working to establish a variety of habitat throughout the complex including shrubs and small trees for winter habitat and food. 200 acres were seeded in 1999 to a mixture of warm season grasses and forbs recommended for wetland areas. Some acres were left to revegetate naturally. Approximately 178 acres were seeded to cool season mix for nesting potential.


The complex contains 3 irrigation wells, 8.8 miles of low level dikes, 31.4 miles perimeter shoreline on excavations, 600+ acres of potential shallow flooding area, 35 acres of food plots, 25 acres of shrub plantings, 216 acres of cool season grass, 579 acres of warm season grasses/forbs and 6 public parking lot accesses.


How to Bird Owego

The Owego Wetlands Complex is an easy yet rewarding place to bird.  The most popular way to bird Owego is by vehicle because many of the species can be seen from the edge of the road. The roads are gravel and you can drive the whole perimeter or park and walk the roads or bird the woods on Garner Ave. or at the old town site.


How to Get There

Drive north 3 miles on Fayette Ave. from highway 141 between Sloan and Hornick or drive east 6 miles from Salix on 280th street to Fayette and 1 mile south to reach the site. The site is bordered on the north by 290th street.  The three N/S roads are Fayette, Franklin and Garner Avenues as you travel from west to east. The Owego town site and a portion of the complex are west of Fayette. Owego Road (runs SE to 300th) and 300th street border the south except for a portion of the complex, which extends south of 300th and east of Franklin. 290th dead ends 1/2 a mile to the west of Fayette and 300th dead ends about 3/4 of a mile east of Franklin.


Traffic is very minimal throughout the year and with the beautiful Loess Hills to the east and the sights and sounds of the birds, flowers, butterflies and frogs in the wetlands; the area can provide you with an enjoyable birding experience.


What You Might Find

At the request of the WCCB, the Loess Hills Audubon Society (LHAS) has been monitoring the site for bird species since October of 2002. Since that date, LHAS members have compiled a list of over 200 species that have been found at the site at least once. Click on the 'Owego Bird List' above the Dickcissel picture above for the current total and listing of species found to date.

Owego Bird List

Dickcissel by Loren Hansen