Area Birding

Dubuque county and the tri-state area provide a multitude of habitats for birders to explore.

  • Mature hardwood forests that can be found in places like Mines of Spain State Recreation Area and White Pine Hollow State Forest (New Vienna, IA) host Pileated Woodpecker, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Veery, Scarlet Tanager, and 11 species of breeding warblers.
  • Wetland areas such as Deere Dike Park and Mud Lake County Park offer access to the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Area, where Sandhill Cranes, Bald Eagles, and waterfowl are easily found. 
  • Prairies and grasslands can be found at a number of locations including Ringneck Ridge Wildlife Area (Worthington, IA) and Whitewater Canyon (Bernard, IA).  Here you may find Sedge Wren, Yellow-Breasted Chat, and Northern Harrier. 
  • A leisurely country drive on gravel roads south of the Dubuque Regional Airport or in western Dubuque county can provide opportunities to view open country species such as Horned Lark, Lapland Longspur, and Snow Bunting.
  • In summer 2023, we were happy to discover Bobolink, Dickcissel, and other grassland birds nesting in the Technology Park development area.

We have created a map to show the locations mentioned above, along with more favorites in the tri-state area.  The map is most useful on a large screen.

Whatever your target species may be, Dubuque and the tri-state area have place to find it!

Tri-State County Map

Tri-State County Map

For information on birding locations, look at hotspots in eBird, and find additional supporting details on those same hotspots at

Hotspot Details

You can help build this hotspot repository by submitting suggested edits!  The idea is to provide details on eBird hotspots, including descriptions, location photos, tips on parking, restroom availability, whether there is roadside viewing, etc.

Annual Christmas Bird Count

The annual Audubon Christmas Bird count is the longest running organized citizen science project in the United States.  Every year we split into groups to identify and count birds within a 10-mile radius of Center Grove Methodist Church, Dubuque, IA.  Sectors include Swiss Valley, Mines of Spain, City of Dubuque, Western Dubuque, Deere Dike/north of Dubuque, Dubuque Airport, and western Grant County.  All data is submitted to the National Audubon Society and used to track trends in bird diversity.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
2023 Christmas Bird Count

2023 Results

On 12/30/23, we had a total of 23 participants who counted 71 species and 23,779 total birds!  We added an additional 5 species seen during count week, for a total of 76 species.  (Count week includes the 3 days before and 3 days after the count day, for a total of 7 days.)  

2023 is the first year Sandhill Cranes have been reported on this annual count.  Eurasian Tree Sparrow made the list for the 4th consecutive year after being on the list for the 1st time 4 years ago, indicating this species is making inroads to establishing a permanent population in the county. Overall numbers (particularly Bald Eagles, Dark Eyed Junco, and American Tree Sparrows) were down, possibly due to the mild weather, which allowed birds to be more spread out than they would be with significant snowpack and ice.  Waterfowl numbers were at record levels (particularly American Coot and Canvasback), likely due to open water.  We counted almost 15,000 Canvasback this year, compared to 314 last year.  Highlights included 2 Northern Shrikes, a Long-eared Owl, and a count week Harlequin Duck. 

Our grand total for the week of 76 species is one more than last year, with 63 birds on the lists for consecutive years.  Use the button below to view the details for 2023 and 2022.