If you're in Sioux Falls or Des Moines and have been tempted to head outdoors with a pair of binoculars in one hand and an Audubon Guide in the other, you won't have to fight any big crowds of fellow bird watchers.

A new study shows that the residents of the largest cities in South Dakota and Iowa aren't big fans of the activity.

Sioux Falls and Des Moines have both landed in the bottom ten on a Lawn Love list of 2023’s Best Cities for Birdwatching.

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To rank 200 U.S. cities, Lawn Love looked at four key areas:


  • Number of Audubon Centers, Sanctuaries, and Wildlife Refuges
  • Share of Land Used for Parks and Recreation
  • Number of National and State Parks
  • Number of Outdoor Gear Stores

Bird Variety

  • Number of different species


  • Number of Birdwatching Groups
  • Number of Birdwatchers
  • Number of Checklists
  • Number of Bird Festivals


  • Number of Birding Organizations
  • Audubon Offices and Chapters

Two states - Kansas and Alabama - aren't too keen on bird watching. All five of the worst cities are found in those two states.


  1. Kansas City, Kansas
  2. Montgomery, Alabama
  3. Olathe, Kansas
  4. Mobile, Alabama
  5. Overland Park, Kansas
  6. Des Moines, Iowa
  7. Huntsville, Alabama
  8. Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  9. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  10. Henderson, Nevada

In Des Moines, they had below-average scores in all four categories but were especially lacking in bird variety (180th) and popularity (193rd).

Sioux Falls holds the distinction of being the American city where birdwatching is the least popular (200th).  That may be partially due to the city's lack of bird variety (195th).

Minnesota cities fared much better. Minneapolis was 66th overall; St. Paul was 78th.

California is apparently the birdwatching capital of the country. The Golden State put 43 cities in the Top 65 and three in the Top 10.


  1. New York, New York
  2. San Diego, California
  3. Houston, Texas
  4. Seattle, Washington
  5. Los Angeles, California
  6. San Francisco, California
  7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  8. Phoenix, Arizona
  9. Austin, Texas
  10. Chicago, Illinois

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