Iowa's Young Birders is one of nineteen bird watching clubs within Iowa but the only one specifically for young people.
The observation deck at Pike's Peak State Park is on a bluff 500 feet above the Mississippi River Valley -- one of the four major flyways in North America.
People interested in bird-watching flock here from all over the world. In Iowa, bird-watching is a popular pastime. Within the state there are 19 clubs dedicated to our fine feathered friends.
Are you all seeing the swallow, which one we're talking about, the one that is relatively low out here --
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 51.3 million Americans, or 20% of the population, say they watch birds. Part of the appeal might be because if you're outdoors, no matter where you go or what you're doing, there always seems to be a bird close at hand.
Carl Bendorf: You can do birding 365 days of the year. You can listen for owls at night. You can look for birds the middle of the day. You can feed birds in your backyard.
Carl Bendorf is the executive director of Iowa Young Birders. The mission of the club is to get young people to learn more about nature and conservation issues through studying and enjoying birds.
Bendorf: Our focus is ages eight to eighteen but we've actually had younger kids coming on our field trips and we're just trying to create an environment where they can get out together and be with other young birders and try to show them a little bit about the joy and fun of learning about birds.
The club meets once a month and has outings across the state. Currently there are 30 active members, but one doesn't have to be a member of the club to go on a field trip.
Bendorf: We're very committed to being family friendly on our field trips. We think it is critical that parents are involved because, to be honest, if parents aren't supporting the kids they're not going to be able to come out birding.
There are over 10,000 bird species worldwide with over 900 species found in North America. Here in Iowa there are 425 different species of birds.
Bendorf: Like many organisms, birds tend to be very habitat specific and so in order to see some different habitats, get some different points of view we do sometimes get in the car and move to a different vantage point.
There's plenty of great information about birding on the Internet and if you're interested in learning more about Iowa Young Birders you can visit their website at iowayoungbirders.org.
Bendorf: We've got links on our website that will lead you to some other resources but the main thing is get out and go birding.