Before the great influx of settlers in the 19th century the prairie lands and woodlands of Iowa supported a varied and abundant animal population. Since then, the state’s animal life has been generally reduced in numbers by hunting and by the disappearance of much of the original habitat. A few species, such as the bison and wapiti (elk), have long ago disappeared from Iowa.
The largest wild animal still found in Iowa is the white-tailed deer. Small animals common to Iowa include the muskrat, raccoon, red fox, jackrabbit, cottontail, fox squirrel, and gray squirrel. Among the other animals found there are the coyote, beaver, badger, weasel, mink, Eastern spotted skunk, striped skunk, gray fox, opossum, gopher, and woodchuck, or groundhog.
A number of species of reptiles occur. They include three poisonous snakes: the massasauga, prairie, and timber rattlesnakes.
Iowa lies in the great Mississippi Flyway, a north-south migratory route followed by millions of birds during their annual migration along the Mississippi and Missouri river valleys. Waterfowl are especially numerous in the flyway. Among them are the mallard, redhead, blue-winged teal, American coot, Canada goose, and snow goose. Among the most popular game birds are the ring-necked pheasant in northern Iowa, the ruffed grouse in the northeast, and the bobwhite, a species of quail, in the south. Birds that are permanent residents in Iowa include the goldfinch (the state bird), crow, white-breasted nuthatch, blue jay, cardinal, downy woodpecker, English sparrow, starling, redwing blackbird, common grackle, mourning dove, kingfisher, and cowbird.
Migratory birds that are to be seen in the summer months in Iowa include the meadowlark, bobolink, robin, indigo bunting, dickcissel, and catbird, as well as species of warblers, sparrows, flycatchers, cuckoos, thrushes, and swallows. The American bald eagle winters in Iowa, and several species of hawk pass through the state in the summer.
Many of Iowa’s rivers and streams are well stocked with fish. Several varieties of catfish are common. Smallmouth bass, several kinds of trout, pike, yellow perch, crappie, bluegill, and carp are all found throughout Iowa. "Indiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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