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The Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program (VWMP) is for enthusiastic and sharp-eyed, sharp-eared volunteers who have a passion for wildlife and its conservation. With more than 800 species in our state, the wildlife staff can't possibly keep track of all these critters in every corner of the state. We need volunteers that are willing and interested in collecting data on two important and sensitive groups of wildlife.
Volunteer Wildlife Monitor Program Brochure
The Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program (VWMP) is for enthusiastic and sharp-eyed, sharp-eared volunteers who have a passion for wildlife and its conservation. With more than 800 species in our state, the wildlife staff can't possibly keep track of all these critters in every corner of the state.
We need volunteers that are willing and interested in collecting data on a few important and sensitive groups of wildlife: Bald Eagles/Ospreys/Peregrine Falcons, Frogs and Toads, and Bats.
Please read all instructions below carefully before registering.
In 2023, we will be hosting one virtual bald eagle nest monitoring workshop and 4 frog and toad call survey workshops, two virtual and two in person in Clayton and Buena Vista Counties. Registration is currently open for the Bald Eagle Nest Monitoring workshop only.
Frog and Toad Call Survey Workshops
Anyone interested in participating in the Frog and Toad Call Survey must attend a training. In person workshops are limited to 15 participants, virtual workshops to 25 households* each. Registration will close when that number of registrants has been reached.
* By "household" this means that more than 1 person in the same space can attend the zoom under 1 registration.
Frog and Toad workshop schedule and registration will be available soon!
Bird Nest Monitoring Workshops
Anyone interested in being a bald eagle nest monitor must participate in some training. This workshop will be held virtually using the zoom platform. Attendance is limited to 25 households and the cost to attend is $5 + fees (total cost will be between $6.50 and $7.00). You only need to register once per household (please do not enter a separate registration for everyone in your household that will attend). Volunteers are particularly needed in the following counties: Allamakee, Appanoose, Chicaksaw, Clayton, Delaware, Howard, Linn, Lucas, Johnson, Jones, Marion, Monroe, Wayne, and Winneshiek. A map of nests that may need a monitor is below.
The Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program is based at the Boone Wildlife Research Station, 1436 255th Street, Boone, IA 50036.
The DNR is always interested in receiving reports of Bald Eagle Nests in the state. We maintain a database of nests and are interested in keeping it as up to date as possible. The information we are interested in is the exact location of the nest, whether the nest is being used by eagles and if young are present how many and the date of your observation. To report a nest, please click the button below to use an interactive map to report the nest or download and use the form:
Report a Bald Eagle Nest
Bald Eagle Nest Reporting Form
Bald Eagle Nest Reporting Form
How to Identify a Bald Eagle Nest
If you are interested in “adopting” and formally monitoring the nest as a volunteer for the DNR, please visit the Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program webpage for information on bird nest monitoring.
To talk to someone about reporting eagle nests in Iowa contact:
Boone Wildlife Research Station
1436 255th St., Boone, IA firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-230-6599
Here are some other programs that may interest you:
Volunteer Water monitoring and Project AWARE - Volunteer-based water quality testing and clean up.
Iowa DNR Volunteer Program
We can always use your help and it's great outdoor fun!
The following are resources for current volunteer wildlife monitors.
Frog and Toad SurveyFrog and Toad Survey
Bird Nest Monitoring:
Nesting Location Form w/out Map
Bald Eagle Nest - Data SheetNest Monitoring Form
(Falcon and Osprey Survey)
Bird Nest Monitoring Survey
(Colonial Waterbird: Datasheet)
The Bird Nest Monitoring Program focuses on three species of raptors: Bald Eagle, Osprey and Peregrine Falcon. These top predators are particularly sensitive to environmental changes, making them not only fascinating animals to observe but also important animals to monitor.
To become a nest monitor, volunteers must go through some training. At a Bird Nest Monitoring workshop, volunteers learn about the bird’s nesting ecology and biology, and what data to collect on a nest site and how do it without disturbing the birds. Volunteers then report this data to the Wildlife Diversity Program and it is used to monitor the bird’s status in the state. Two to three workshops are held annually around the state. The schedule is posted on this page. Alternatively, if you are very interested in becoming an Eagle Nest Monitor but can't make it to a training you can check out the Bald Eagle training video to get started!
Volunteers interested in becoming Bald Eagle nest monitors but who cannot attend one of the offered training workshops may receive training through this video and associated materials. To participate in the survey you must:
For other conservation agencies or organizations: The video and accompanying materials are available for use and adaptation by your organization. Please contact the Iowa Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program coordinators to request a cd of all documents and media.
More Survey Information and Available Routes
In 2015, the Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program began a partnership with Iowa State University to establish some survey routes in select counties for Acoustic Monitoring of bats. Bats have been experiencing a number of challenges in recent years, particularly with the onset of a disease, White Nose Syndrome, which causes high levels of mortality mostly during hibernation. It is critical therefore to begin monitoring bat population trends and that is what the Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program does.
Acoustic surveys involve special equipment which can pick up and record the echolocation calls of bats. The microphone is attached to the roof of a car and then driven very slowly (20 mph) along a pre-determined ~30 mile route on country roads. In the lab, we can then analyze the recordings to identify the species of bat and how many individuals of each species flew over the vehicle during the route. Data collected each year on the same route can then be used to monitor the trend in different species abundances in the area.
We are looking for some special people, dedicated to the conservation of these special critters, who would be willing to commit their time and personal vehicle to survey these routes. For more details about the counties which contain routes and what will be required of volunteers please read thoroughly the pdf entitled: Bat Acoustic Monitoring Information Sheet. If you are in one of the targeted counties and think this is something you can firmly commit to, download, fill out and return the form entitled: Volunteer Interest Form.