SPIRIT LAKE - A ceremony to dedicate Cayler Prairie Preserve as Iowa's newest Bird Conservation Area (BCA) will take place at 1:30 p.m., May 12. The event will be held at the Cayler Prairie Preserve parking area, located 3.5 miles west of the intersection of Hwy. 9 and Hwy. 86, and 2.5 miles south of Hwy. 9 on 170th Ave. If it is raining, the event will be held at the Dickinson County Nature Center, located at 2279 County Home Road, in Okoboji.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is hosting the dedication that will include brief presentations and the unveiling of a special Bird Conservation Area sign. There will be refreshments, and following the ceremony there will be a short driving tour of the area led by local wildlife management staff.
While Cayler Prairie Preserve and National Natural Landmark serves as the centerpiece jewel for this BCA, the host of grassland/wetland complexes surrounding it help make this area one of Iowa's most important grassland rich habitats in the Prairie Pothole Region.
"Designating this complex as a Bird Conservation Area will add to its recognition by indicating its importance for nesting and migratory grassland and wetland birds," said Bruce Ehresman, DNR wildlife diversity program biologist.
"This area provides important nesting habitat for declining grassland birds, such as upland sandpiper, northern harrier, bobolink, and Henslow's sparrow, as well as for game birds such as northern pintail and ring-necked pheasant; plus the area provides nesting and migration stopover habitat for many other bird species suffering nationwide declines."
Cayler Prairie will become the second Bird Conservation Area in Dickinson County, with Spring Run Grasslands BCA created first in 2002. Since grassland birds are the fastest declining group in North America, designating another BCA nearby should further improve opportunities for local communities and concerned citizens to implement conservation practices for birds and benefit the many species that are in trouble.
It also is anticipated that this new BCA will attract bird enthusiasts from throughout the region. More birders visiting this area should support growth of the local tourism economy and encourage investment in local bird conservation.
"The designation of the Cayler Prairie Bird Conservation Area serves as recognition of the excellent teamwork of many partners, cooperating to emphasize the importance of habitat for all birds. State, federal, and county conservation agencies, working together with private conservation organizations and citizens have made this possible," said Chris LaRue, DNR wildlife biologist and Great Lakes Wildlife Unit manager.
The public is welcome to attend this event. Bird appreciators and all other wildlife conservationists are asked to help celebrate the dedication of this important Bird Conservation Area. This event is also intended to help celebrate World Migratory Bird Day, a global annual awareness campaign designed to promote conservation of birds and their habitats.