SIGNS OF SPRING: Birds flock back to the area as ice melts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SIGNS OF SPRING: Birds flock back to the area as ice melts

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The signs of spring are here and dozens of eastern Iowans are excited to see them. 

Tom Schilke, an avid bird watcher and member of the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society was at George Wyth State Park this week, hoping to see a northern saw-whet owl.  Although he didn't find one, he is excited spring is here and the birds are coming back.

"They get busy this time of year, whether it's snowing out or cold," said Schilke.

Schilke says with the warmer temperatures many different ducks and wildlife are coming back to the area. Today he walked through a few trails at the state park, thankful everything is thawing out.

"It's just a good excuse to get out finally, it's not as icy on the trails as what it has been," said Schilke.

For most of the winter, George Wyth's lakes were frozen solid, but as the ice starts to melt birds and other animals are making their way back to the area.

"There have been a lot of eagles around, which is not surprising," said Schilke. "When the ice goes out there's dead fish and other things for them to feed on so I've seen as many as over a hundred out here, there's really a lot of bald eagles here right now."

Across eastern Iowa many people have seen flocks of birds land in their yards and fields close by.

"In mid March we are seeing the black birds in big numbers and robins in bigger numbers, more than we usually see," said Schilke.

Though Schilke is excited things are defrosting, there's still time for the lakes to refreeze and in that case the Iowa DNR reminds Iowans to be careful.

"We will never tell you the ice is safe, there could still be some open water, we'd rather find you on top of the water because under the ice is not a good place to be unless you're a fish," said Lori Eberhard, George Wyth State Park Manager.

The DNR also reminds the ice needs to be at least four inches thick to ice fish on. Eberhard says most of the ice is not safe at all and people need to wait to use their boats for a couple of weeks.

The DNR says to also avoid off colored snow or ice.

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