Midwest Birding Symposium – Maquoketa Caves

Birdfreak and Veery spent Friday morning on a field trip to an Iowa birding hotspot, Maquoketa Caves State Park. This park is a gem not only for its breeding birds but for its amazing scenery. And of course its caves.

Maquoketa is pronounced roughly “Ma-ko-kah-da” but we kept calling it “Ma-coconut” as it sounded like that when others said it fast.

The Terrain at Maquoketa Was Rugged and Spectacular
Maquoketa Caves - Iowa
Maquoketa Caves - Iowa

Unfortunately, the birding wasn’t that great, as the deep forest and cave-laden terrain was cold and the birds kept quiet. But, the caves were truly a wonderful experience as we clamored in the dark through what is called the Dance Hall.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel (or Cave)
Maquoketa Caves - Iowa

The cave experience was new to us. We had been in caverns before but not in such a wet, dark, and low cave. We had some flashlights, but it was still dark. Unfortunately, we did not see any bats or other cool critters in the cave. In the rocky canyons a spunky Carolina Wren belted out an echoed song and investigated the gang of onlookers.

Our group had 29 birders (!!) so it was hard to find a lot of birds, especially since we had to go single-file for most of the way (narrow, rocky trails and caves). But we did find some nice birds at a prairie area including Broad-winged Hawk, Eastern Phoebe, and a lot of Gray Catbirds.

Twenty-nine birders is too much for a bird hike, but it was still fun exploring a new area
Maquoketa Caves - Iowa

Still to come – loads of conservation info gleaned from our workshops we attended and meeting one of the greats, Kenn Kaufman!!

2 thoughts on “Midwest Birding Symposium – Maquoketa Caves

  1. 29 is too big for a trip.It’s good for socializing with other birders, but not so much for birding.-It’s not always necessary to see a lot of birds though.Some times its the experiences related to the birding itself that makes things interesting!

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