Grassland Birds at Technology Park

With the disappearance of suitable grasslands for bird species like the Bobolink, we were happy to discover in summer 2023 that these birds were nesting at the Key West Technology Park in Dubuque!  This is a future development area, but in the meantime, the city is mowing the undeveloped lots only outside of nesting season, which provides the perfect habitat for certain species of grassland birds.  

View map
(Digital Dr. & Data Ct.)

With city approval, beginning in spring 2024, the Dubuque Audubon Society will post signs to share information about these birds during the times of year when they may be present.  We hope that people and pets will remain on the mowed areas, in order not to disturb nesting birds.  

The habitat at Technology Park is what some of these species seek, rather than the taller mixed prairies full of flowers which are found in other areas, such as at Mines of Spain and Whitewater Canyon.

Here are some of the birds we were particularly happy to find:

  • Bobolink*
  • Dickcissel
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Grasshopper Sparrow*
  • Eastern Meadowlark
 
Use the eBird button to see the full list of species that have been spotted.

* Both the Bobolink and the Grasshopper Sparrow are on Iowa’s list of species of high conservation priority.  Use the Iowa Audubon button to see information on Iowa’s Important Birding Areas (IBAs), which includes Iowa’s list of endangered species, threatened species, and species of high conservation priority, with links to interesting details for each bird.

Use the All About Birds buttons below for details and to listen to calls and songs.  (You can also use the free Merlin app to hear bird sounds.)

Bobolink

The Bobolink is a type of blackbird that nests in the fields at Technology Park.  They are here from mid-May until late August, when they begin their long journey south — 12,000 miles roundtrip!  They winter in Argentina and other places in South America.  Their numbers are currently in decline over all their range, with habitat loss a primary contributor.

Bobolink
Bobolink
© Chuck Isenhart

Grasshopper Sparrow

The Grasshopper Sparrow is named for the insect-like buzz of its song.  Wintering in the southern United States, the Grasshopper Sparrow visits Iowa each summer to nest and raise its young.

Grasshopper Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
© Mary Leigh

To help with identification of these local grassland birds, we have created the following slide shows for side-by-side comparisons:

Bobolink
Dickcissel
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Eastern Meadowlark

The Western Meadowlark is extremely similar to the Eastern  Meadowlark and is best distinguished by sound.  (The Merlin app can help with that!)