Whether Ottumwa is your home, your destination or an overnight stop in your travels, you'll want to meet our fine feathered friends while you're here. We've got the inside scoop on what birds you'll see, where they can be found and the best ways to make them smile for the camera.
Birds who call Ottumwa home
Bird nerds love Ottumwa because of the wide variety of birds found here. Be on the lookout for every species from bald eagles and pelicans to turkey vultures, red-winged blackbirds and pheasant.
Different species of birds can be found in different types of habitats throughout Wapello County. Look for woodcocks in the wet and marshy areas, meadow larks and boblinks in the prairie lands and everything from woodpeckers and cow birds to owls and goldfinches in the timber.
Prime birdwatching locations in Ottumwa
Anywhere along the Des Moines River is going to be a great place to see many of our bird species. They use the river as a travel corridor in their migration pattern. Also check out Pioneer Ridge Nature Area, Garrison Rock and the open prairies around Kirkville.
Ottumwa is a natural stopover for several migratory bird species. Every winter, Bald Eagles flock to Ottumwa. Come for a visit and check out four of the best places around the area to view the eagles.
Market Street Bridge: Just a five-minute walk from downtown, the Market Street Bridge runs parallel to the hydroelectric dam just upriver. Strolling across the Market Street pedestrian walkway, the eagles can often be seen swooping down for a breakfast of fish swimming in the dam's warmer waters.
Bridge View Center: During the cold winter months, visitors to Bridge View Center can see a number of eagles flying over the Des Moines River every day. Whether you're here for an event or utilizing Bridge View for warm winter walking, make sure you peek out the windows to see who might be flying by.
Des Moines River Footbridge: For the true outdoorsman, walking across the river's foot bridge gives you an up-close and personal look at our feathered friends. Venture out onto the bridge, looking both upriver and down, for amazing views of the eagles and the riverfront.
River Road: Along the eagle watch trail from Ottumwa to Eldon, there is a great spot on River Road to discover some popular perches. Start on Highway 63 South from the roundabout and turn left just past the stoplight onto Rabbit Run Road. When the road turns to gravel, it will become River Road. This is the road you will follow throughout the trail. One especially open view of the river just a few miles from town gives you the perfect vantage point for taking amazing photographs - bring your long lens! Continue on River Road and turn slightly left at the intersection with Highway J-12, which will eventually turn back into pavement. At the intersection with 25th Street, turn left to cross the bridge into Eldon.
For a map of the trail, contact the CVB.
Wildlife photography tips
First, practice patience! Birds never sit still for long, so be ready to take that photo at any moment. Second, listen for their calls, which will are generally loudest in the early morning hours, so you can easily find them. Finally, set up so the sun is to your back, which will allow the light to shine on the birds and not into the camera lens.
Ottumwa IA 52501
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