Photo of a male and female purple martin

A colony of white, gourd-like houses hang on a large pole outside of the Dickinson County Nature Center. Around them flies dozens of gliding, floating, flitting dark birds — purple martins. Local birder and owner of Bird Haven in Spirit Lake Wendell Hansen has cared for the purple martins for many years, and last June…

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Photo of a purple finch

Although purple finches have a non-breeding range throughout the eastern half of the U.S., they may be more of an irregular visitor to your feeder. Part of that could be due to competition with its look-alike, the house finch. (Learn how to tell them apart here) The house finch is native to the western U.S.…

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Photo of an american tree sparrow

The American tree sparrow’s name is really misleading. European settlers named it the American tree sparrow because the chubby bird with a rust-colored cap and eyeline reminded them of the Eurasian tree sparrow, but Spizelloides arborea isn’t just American. It does spend its nonbreeding winter seasons in the U.S. and southern Canada, but it head…

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Photo of a nuthatch at a nut feeder

Dark-eyed junco Dark-eyed juncos have made their way to northwest Iowa to overwinter. Black-capped chickadees are flocking to feeders. White-breasted nuthatches are looking for nuts to get fat and ready for the cold. Food is a constant necessity for birds to survive through Iowa winters. Their feathers are wonderful insulators, but the food is what…

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