The Iowa Ornithologists' Union was founded in 1923, bringing together a group of people interested in the study and enjoyment of wild birds. The group has grown and changed over the years but the goals remain basically the same. At first members used mimeographed sheets listing bird sightings and other items of interest as a way to communicate. In 1931, the organization's quarterly journal Iowa Bird Life, was started to provide a place to publish articles on birds, bird sightings and similar topics. A quarterly newsletter was started in the 1980s. It provides information on activities of the organization such as meetings and bird counts, as well as news on members.
From the beginning, the group has met in the spring to conduct business, enjoy the fellowship of others, and enjoy birds during the peak of spring migration. These meetings alternate among various sites around the state. In the 1950s, some members began meeting informally in fall and those events evolved into a second annual meeting that continues today.
A major interest of many members remains the sightings of birds and sharing their observations with others. For many years, this was done through informal calling-trees. In the early 1980s the IOU sponsored a telephone call recording machine on which members could leave messages of their recent sightings and listen to a recorded message of what others were seeing. This became very popular but with the advent of the internet, the organization sponsored a site where individuals could e-mail in their bird sightings and which provided a weekly summary of sightings from around the state. This site remains a major source of information on what species of birds are being seen and where. The IOU has helped sponsor a number of projects related to birds including two breeding bird atlas projects that plot the distribution of breeding birds in Iowa, providing small grants to support research projects, and supporting surveys of winter birds at feeders.
The IOU Constitution
The IOU Articles of Incorporation