Gladys Black

Although she never received any formal training in ornithology, Gladys Black -- sometimes called "the bird lady of Iowa" -- left a lasting impact on the state through her work with her feathered friends.

Black spent more than 35 years in Iowa doing volunteer work with birds, identifying bird species in the Red Rock region and writing newspaper columns and books on Iowa birds. She never tired of taking children and adults alike "under her wing" to teach them about her beloved birds, and she tirelessly promoted habitat protection and environmental education in the region.

Her newspaper columns about her birding observations appeared in The Des Moines Register from 1969 to 1987 and in three weekly newspapers in Marion County until the week of her death in 1998. Many of these articles were republished in a 1992 book called Iowa Birdlife, still in print today.

"Gladys was the single most important person to bring the world of birds to the general public in Iowa," says Beth Brown, a longtime friend of Black's. Now Black's contributions to Iowa birds and birding were memorialized through the work of Eleanor Coster, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and nearly 500 donors who helped create the Gladys Black Bald Eagle Refuge, located on a popular Bald Eagle roosting site in Marion County.

Click on the links to read more about Gladys Black, her contributions to Iowa ornithology, the eagle refuge that memorializes her work, and her 1983 newspaper article about Bald Eagles.

Special thanks to Julie Collins, an INHF Buckmaster intern, for researching the information about Gladys Black.


Gladys Black
Carl Kurtz

Gladys Black Homepage
Bald Eagle Refuge
Bald Eagle Observations
Bald Eagle Ecology College
Gladys Black Book