Books and Field Guides

for learning about Iowa birds

These references can be helpful in learning about Iowa birds and where to find them.  Most of the books are available in your local bookstore or when available purchase from Amazon and support the IOU website.

Iowa Birds

This compact field guide is full of interesting facts and useful information for anyone with an interest in birds, from the casual backyard observer to the keen naturalist. It features 145 of Iowa's most abundant or notable bird species with a checklist of all 410 species recorded in the state through 2004. Each account includes full-color illustrations and a range map. 176 pages.
By Ann Johnson, Jim Bangma & Gregory Kennedy
Published 2005 by Lone Pine Publishing
ISBN: 1551054612
Now available at many bookstores

Iowa Bird Watching

This book, with its full-color plates, not only helps identify 100 species found in Iowa but helps the new birder learn how to enjoy the hobby.  Learn about migration through Iowa, what plants attract birds, and other great facts and ideas. 176 pages.
By Bill Thompson and the Staff of Bird Watcher's Digest
Published 2005 by Cool Springs Press
ISBN: 1-59186-164-0

Birds of Iowa Field Guide

A book that is touted by new birders in Iowa.  This small book has some good photographs and information about 112 species seen in the state.  While more experienced birders will find the limited number of species a problem, those just getting interested in birds should give it a look.
By Stan Tekiela
Published 2000 by Adventure Publications, Inc.
ISBN: 1-885061-92-7

Birds in Iowa

Written by two of Iowa's top birders, this reference provides not only species accounts but information on geography and birding areas and a history of Iowa ornithology.  Coverage includes all species on the state list at the time of publication.
By Thomas H. Kent & James J. Dinsmore
Published 1996 by the authors
ISBN: 0-87414-106-0

The Raptors of Iowa

This magnificent collection of raptor paintings by James Landenberger is enhanced by short essays from four Iowa naturalists who have been heavily involved species and habitat conservation.
by Dean M Roosa, Jon W. Stravers, Bruce Ehresman, Rich Patterson, & James F. Landenberger
Published 2013 by University of Iowa Press
ISBN: 978-1609381660

Iowa Wildlife Viewing Guide

One of the series of national "Watchable Wildlife" guides, this book looks at four regions of the state, each with a different biotic makeup, and gives the reader directions to and descriptions of major wildlife areas.
By Stephen J. Dinsmore, Laura S. Jackson, Bruce L. Ehresman, and James J. Dinsmore
Published 1995 by Falcon Press
ISBN: 1-56044-349-9

The Iowa Breeding Bird Atlas

This marvelous book is the culmination of many field hours contributed by a number of Iowa birders.  It includes species accounts and a short life history on each of the breeding birds found in the state.  A must for any active birder's library.
By Laura Spess Jackson, Carol A. Thompson, and James J. Dinsmore
Published 1996 by University of Iowa Press
ISBN: 0-87745-561-9

A Country So Full of Game

This book deals with many game species and includes a number of Iowa birds.  It gives a great perspective on the "history of Iowa's natural history" with accounts of the days that Greater Prairie Chickens were abundant and Eskimo Curlews were sold at meat markets.
By James J. Dinsmore
Published 1996 by University of Iowa Press
ISBN: 0-87745-454-X

Iowa Birdlife

This book, published for the Nature Conservancy, is a delightful series of accounts on various species seen in the state.   Most anecdotes were originally written as newspaper columns.  Easy reading and full of behavioral tidbits.
By Gladys Black
Published 1992 by University of Iowa Press
ISBN: 0-87745-393-4

Birds of an Iowa Dooryard

Originally published in 1952, Althea Sherman's studies of Chimney Swifts from her famous tower are legendary.  Her observations of the common birds of her yard challenge many widely-held truths about birds, our environment, and human interactions in the same.
By Althea Sherman
Published 1996 by University of Iowa Press
ISBN: 0-87745-568-6

The Return of Iowa's Bald Eagles

In 1977, Iowa recorded its first bald eagle nest in 72 years and, amazingly, just 3 decades later, 253 young were reared across 88 counties during 2010. This conservation success story is chronicled with facts, anecdotes, charts, statistics, and a photo gallery - which illustrates bald eagle biology, and the bald eagle's recovery in Iowa. 11x7.5" oblong, 246 pp., spectacular color photographs by the author.
By Ty Smedes
Published 2011 by The Iowan Books
ISBN: 1-93481-620-5

Listen to the Land

Listen to the Land is a selection of outdoor and nature columns from the author's 25 years at the Des Moines Register, illustrated with more than 50 black-and-white and color photos. By Larry Stone
Published 2001 by Mid-Prairie Books
ISBN: 0-931209-82-X

Capturing Iowa's Seasons

Renowned Iowa nature photographer Ty Smedes puts the best of his Iowa images together in this beautiful book.  Capturing Iowa's Seasons follows the common and uncommon visitors to Iowa's landscape throughout the year.  Spring features adorable wildlife babies and migrating songbirds.  Summer showcases fabulous images of wildflowers and other native prairie inhabitants.  Fall features the great snow goose migration, and Winter the bald eagle spectacular. In the final chapter, Ty shares his considerable knowledge and tells us how to take our own great nature photography.  You'll want to buy multiple copies to send to family and friends and keep a copy of your own.
By Ty Smedes
Published 2008 by Iowan Books
ISBN: 1934816078

Iowa's Wild Places

Combining photographs and prose, this book explores the rich diversity of flora, fauna, landscapes and habitats in Iowa. Including personal observations, and interesting facts about the geology and natural history, it presents a multifaceted picture of Iowa as the author has grown to love it.
By Carl Kurts
Published 1996 by Iowa State Press
ISBN: 0813821614

Sylvan T. Runkel: Citizen of the Natural World

As a naturalist, teacher, conservationist, pilot, musician, and coauthor of wildflower guides, Sylvan Runkel touched thousands of lives. A new biography by Larry Stone and Jon Stravers shares stories of this unforgettable Iowan. With 167 pages and 90 photos, the book will rekindle memories of Sylvan and provide insights on the heritage and experiences that shaped his life.
By Larry Stone
Published by Turkey River Environmental Expressions
ISBN: 0-9729441-0-9

Gladys Black: The Legacy of Iowa's Bird Lady

Gladys Black's newspaper columns about birds and birding, her environmental education work with young people, and her high profile as an outspoken defender of the environment made her well known across Iowa. And, despite her death in 1998, Gladys's influence still touches many people. That legacy prompted Jon Stravers and Larry Stone to keep Gladys alive with their book, Gladys Black: The Legacy of Iowa's Bird Lady.
By Larry Stone and Jon Stravers
Published by Turkey River Environmental Expressions
ISBN: 0972944125

Iowa Atlas & Gazeteer

This is a super resource for topographic information.  OK, Iowa may not have many mountains but following the streams and rivers through the numerous valleys can be enlightening.
© 1998 DeLorme Publishing Co.
ISBN: 0-89933-214-5

Iowa Sportsman's Atlas

Not about birds but an invaluable reference for any Iowa birder.  The detailed county maps show public land and also the remote byways that help you find such hot spots as Secret Lake.  Most active birders have one for the car and one for the house. Purchase locally or directly from the company.
© 2006 Sportsman's Atlas Co.