Minnesota Birding Weekends

 

  MINNESOTA BIRDING WEEKENDS

  APRIL 2014 - FEBRUARY 2015

   ~ Our 29th Season ~



























     

Grand Marais Harbor



Minnesota Birding Weekends & Weeks (MBW) is now entering its 29th season offering unique, modestly priced birding trips in association with the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union – we originated in 1986 as MOU Birding Weekends. After 28 years, we have now had a total of nearly 400 MBWeekends, about 6,750 registrations, a composite list of 359 species seen within the state, and all 87 Minnesota counties have now been included on our MBWeekend itineraries over the years.


Continuing this season will be our "Frequent Birder" Rebates – i.e., all participants will earn $5 credits for each MBWeekend they attend, with these credits accumulating to earn free registrations on future MBWeekends.


(In addition to our selection of MBWeekends, the schedule of out-of-state MBWeeks will continue. Please visit the MBWEEKS page on this website for further information.)



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MBWeekend registrations and fees will be accepted on a “first-come-first-served" basis, based on U.S. mail postmarks (i.e., the date the registration is mailed, not the date it is received), and please note that some MBWs can become filled months in advance. Maximum registration for most MBWeekends is 15 participants.


Multiple MBWs can be included on a single registration form and on a single check: please make checks payable to M.B.W. All MBW registrations must include an e-mail address. Unless a MBW is filled, checks are deposited as they are received and registrations are confirmed by e-mail.


Confirmed registrants canceling at least one week in advance of a MBWeekend will receive a refund of 80% of their registration fee; refunds for later cancellations would depend on the individual circumstances. Those remaining on waiting lists and not confirmed for a MBW will receive full refunds; MBWeekends which are canceled or shortened (e.g., because of weather) would also result in refunds.


A MBWeekend’s meeting time and place, lodging options, the participants list, car-pooling information, etc, are sent by e-mail to those registered, usually about 4 weeks before the MBW. Unless stated otherwise, MBWeekends normally begin at dawn on Saturday, end early to mid-afternoon on Sunday, and are typically based in the same city from Friday night until Sunday.


Transportation, meals, and lodging are generally not included in MBWeekend fees. Participants can make arrangements to car pool to the base city or to share lodging – a list of those registered and lodging options in the base city are included with the MBW's e-mail information. Participants will be able to bring their own food along for meals and/or to eat at restaurants. Birding during MBWeekends is by car-pooled caravans normally limited to four vehicles.


The Friday pre-Weekend options may be taken separately or along with the corresponding two-day MBWeekends in adjacent counties.


All MBW participants are expected to be members of the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union (http://moumn.org/join.html).


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CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR MBWEEKENDS


NOTE: Registering for a MBWeekend after it is FILLED should still be considered

since there could be cancellations, or an additional leader or extra MBWeekend

can sometimes be arranged to accommodate those on the waiting list.

(Full refund of the MBW fee is provided if no vacancies develop.)


~ 2014-15 MINNESOTA BIRDING WEEKENDS ~


CLICK on the HIGHLIGHTED NAME of a MBWEEKEND

for a summary of this or a similar MBW from a previous year


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• April 5-6, 2014  ~  Southwestern Minnesota

CLICK HERE FOR SUMMARY OF THIS MBWeek


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• April 19-20, 2014  ~  Lac Qui Parle  ~  $45  (Base Montevideo)

pre-MBW option April 18  ~  Yellow Medicine County  ~  $30  (Base Montevideo)

–  Leader Craig Mandel  –


As spring progresses into mid-April, almost anything seems possible in the fascinating and varied mix of habitats along the Minnesota River Valley, especially around the Lac Qui Parle area and adjacent Marsh Lake. We should see waterfowl and raptors of all kinds (with a Cinnamon Teal, Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, or Short-eared Owl among them?), while early shorebirds, longspurs, and several sparrows are attracted to the meadows and unique rocky grasslands along the river, and migrant passerines will be in the riparian woodlands. Perhaps a Mountain Bluebird, Townsend's Solitaire, Spotted Towhee, or other rarity might even turn up among the junipers. 


Yellow Medicine County provides additional wetlands, woodlands, and grasslands for migrants from the Minnesota River to the South Dakota line. Most interesting is the rolling Coteau des Prairies landscape in the western part of the county where strays like Prairie Falcon, Say's Phoebe, and Chestnut-collared Longspur have occurred.


STATUS as of 7 APRIL 2014: FILLED (limit 15 participants) / 0 on waiting list; see NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.


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May 10-11, 2014  ~  Minnesota River Valley  ~  $50  (Base New Ulm)


This forested oasis and migration corridor from St. Peter, through Mankato, and west to New Ulm and beyond still remains an under-birded area with much potential for exploration. Granite outcroppings, grasslands, and juniper groves invite western strays from the Dakotas, while this valley's woodlands provide western range limits of Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Tufted Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wood Thrush, Blue-winged and other warblers, Eastern Towhee, Scarlet Tanager, and other southeastern specialties. If the weather cooperates, we could find the migration of warblers and other passerines approaching its peak.


STATUS as of 7 APRIL 2014: FILLED (limit 15 participants) / 3 on waiting list; see NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.


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May 24-25-26, 2014  ~  Northwestern Minnesota I  ~  $75  (Base Hallock)

• pre-MBW option May 23  ~  Polk County  ~  $30  (Base Crookston)


The attraction to this remote corner of the state in late spring is certainly obvious, with such traditional sites as Agassiz NWR, Agassiz Audubon Center, and the Thief River Falls sewage ponds there. And in recent years, birders and birds alike have been drawn to the Agassiz Valley water impoundment and other similar sites. In addition (unlike the Labor Day MBW’s focus on Roseau County), this MBW will mostly concentrate on Kittson County and vicinity, with such excellent but relatively unfamiliar sites as Larry Wilebski’s Evergreen Acres, Lake Bronson State Park, and Twin Lakes WMA, as we hope to find a long list of migrants along with Least Bittern, Yellow Rail, Short-eared Owl, Nelson's Sparrow, and other specialties. Past May MBWs here have featured a list of 25 shorebirds, Mountain Bluebirds, Sprague's Pipits, a total of 195 species in 1997 (with 24 warbler species at Agassiz, including Yellow-throated), and a MBWeekend record of 200 species in 2009!


Polk County includes an unusually varied mix of habitats for both migrant and resident species. Most interesting are the Glacial Ridge grasslands where Burrowing Owl, Say's Phoebe, Lark Bunting, even Whooping Crane, and other strays have occurred, while prairie-chickens, Sharp-tailed Grouse, and other prairie specialties are resident.


STATUS as of 7 APRIL 2014: FILLED (limit 26 participants with 2 leaders) / 0 on waiting list; see NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.


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May 31-June 1, 2014  ~  Cook County I *  ~  $55  (Base Grand Marais)

• pre-MBW option May 30  ~  Park Point & North Shore / Sax-Zim Bog  ~  $30  (Base Duluth)


* This MBWeekend was added to the schedule to accommodate those formerly on the waiting list.


June 7-8, 2014  ~  Cook County II  ~  $55  (Base Grand Marais)

pre-MBW option June 6  ~  Lake County  ~  $30  (Base Two Harbors)


This MBWeekend, centered along the famed Gunflint Trail in the Superior National Forest, should go a long way in strengthening your skill at recognizing bird songs. Flycatchers (including Olive-sided, Yellow-bellied, and Alder), vireos (perhaps including Philadelphia), Winter Wren, both kinglets, thrushes, warblers (20 or more species possible – including Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Mourning, and Canada), sparrows, winter finches, and others will all be vocalizing. We’ll also be searching for resident specialties such as Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Evening Grosbeak, and perhaps a crossbill or two.


Because migrants (often including rarities) can still be passing through Duluth and vicinity in late May, the May 30 pre-MBW will include the Lake Superior shoreline from Park Point to Two Harbors. (And if little or no migration is still in progress, this pre-MBW will instead concentrate on the boreal specialties of the Sax-Zim Bog.)   


The June 6 pre-MBW in the Lake Co. portion of the Superior National Forest will also serve as a song ID workshop, as nesting flycatchers, vireos, kinglets, thrushes, warblers, and others will be in full song. With luck, we might turn up something special like a Spruce Grouse family, a Great Gray Owl, or American Three-toed Woodpecker.


STATUS as of 7 APRIL 2014:


Cook County I – FILLED (limit 15 participants) / 0 on waiting list.

Cook County II – FILLED (limit 15 participants) / 0 on waiting list; see NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.


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• June 21-22, 2014  ~  Aitkin County  ~  $55  (Base McGregor)

• pre-MBW option June 20  ~  Pine County  ~  $30  (Base Hinckley)

–  Leader Craig Mandel  –


The highly sought Yellow Rail is easily heard and – with flashlight, boots, patience, and effort – actually quite possible to see in Aitkin County's renowned McGregor Marsh. But there is much more to this county, including such boreal specialties such as Sharp-tailed Grouse, Sandhill Crane, Black-billed Cuckoo, possibly a Great Gray or Short-eared owl, Alder and Yellow-bellied flycatchers, Boreal Chickadee, Winter and Sedge wrens, nearly 20 warbler species (including Golden-winged, Cape May, Pine, Mourning, and Connecticut), Le Conte's and Nelson's sparrows. And most of these will still be in full voice for those interested in working on your song ID skills.


In Pine County along the St. Croix River, southern specialties like cuckoos, Willow Flycatcher, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Henslow’s Sparrow all occur; while up in Nemadji State Forest, the likes of Sharp-tailed Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Alder Flycatcher, Gray Jay, Connecticut Warbler, and Le Conte’s Sparrow can all be found.


STATUS as of 7 APRIL 2014: FILLED (limit 15 participants) / 3 on waiting list; see NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.


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• July 26-27, 2014  ~  Stevens & Big Stone Counties  ~  $50  (Base Morris)

• pre-MBW option July 25  ~  Traverse & Grant Counties  ~  $30  (Base Morris)


This late-summer MBW has now become an annual tradition and evolved into our shorebird ID workshop. If the water levels are right, 20 shorebird species or more are a real possibility here, where there are several productive sewage ponds plus countless natural prairie wetlands in Big Stone County (especially Thielke Lake). Our recent MBWs here have found a good variety of ducks, Clark's Grebes, Least Bitterns and other waders, Eastern Screech- and Short-eared owls, impressive masses of migrating swallows, an assortment of early fall migrant warblers, Henslow's Sparrows a couple of times, plus lingering Western Kingbirds, Bobolinks, and Orchard Orioles.


Traverse and Grant counties, formerly included on the main MBW, now have their own full day with more time to cover the mudflats and marshes at Mud Lake along the state line and the North Ottawa impoundment in Grant County. MBWs here have also found both Le Conte's and Henslow's sparrows at Miller Prairies East and West.


STATUS as of 7 APRIL 2014: FILLED (limit 15 participants) / 2 on waiting list; see NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.


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August 30-31-September 1, 2014  ~  Northwestern Minnesota II  ~  $70  (Base Warroad)

• pre-MBW option August 29  ~  Upper & Lower Red Lakes ~  $30  (Base Bemidji)


This will be our 11th consecutive Labor Day Weekend in this far corner of the state, and, with relatively little birding here in fall, the list of possibilities is both potentially long and refreshingly unpredictable. We can expect to see up to 160-170 species as we concentrate mostly on Roseau County (Memorial Day’s MBW will be based in Kittson Co.), as we visit Lake of the Woods, Warroad and Springsteel Island (both excellent migrant traps), the vast Roseau River and Roseau Lake WMAs, the always-attractive Warroad and Roseau sewage ponds, and more. Some of our unexpected finds on this MBW have included Snowy Egret, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Prairie Falcon, Red Knot, Long-tailed Jaeger, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Nelson's Sparrow. As many as 25 shorebird species (including American Avocet, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and once a concentration of 145 Red-necked Phalaropes), and 20 warbler species have been recorded on this MBWeekend, along with Short-eared Owls and magpies (once we counted 110 in a single flock!).


The pre-MBW in under-birded northern Beltrami and southern Lake of the Woods counties will focus on finding migrants along the shorelines of Upper and Lower Red Lakes. Boreal specialties in the nearby boglands will also be sought, with the excellent Big Bog State Recreation Area Boardwalk north of the lakes a definite destination.


STATUS as of 7 APRIL 2014: 27 registered / 3 vacancies (limit 30 participants with 2 leaders).


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• September 26, 2014  ~  Fall Duluth I  ~  $25  (Base Duluth)

• September 27, 2014  ~  Fall Duluth II  ~  $20  (Base Duluth)

• September 28, 2014  ~  Fall Duluth III  ~  $15  (Base Duluth)


Join us for either one, two, or all three days in Duluth and up the North Shore of Lake Superior. Friday will concentrate on Lake County, with possibly a run as far as Cook County depending on the weather and recent sightings. Saturday and Sunday will focus closer to Duluth, as we scour Park Point, Stoney Point, and other sites along the lake for an always interesting mix of fall migrants of all kinds, with a strong flight of raptors at Hawk Ridge quite possible. Recent late September-early October rarities here have included Ross's Goose, scoters, Harlequin Duck, Red-throated and Pacific loons, Western Grebe, Cattle Egret, Mississippi Kite, Gyrfalcon, Red Phalarope, Sabine's Gull (several!), Arctic Tern, all three jaegers, White-winged Dove, Say's Phoebe (in 2012), Clark's Nutcracker (also 2012), Smith's Longspur, and many others.


STATUS as of 7 APRIL 2014:


Fall Duluth I – 14 registered / 1 vacancy (limit 15 participants).

Fall Duluth II – FILLED (limit 15 participants) / 2 on waiting list; see NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.

Fall Duluth III – 14 registered / 1 vacancy (limit 15 participants).


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• October 18-19, 2014  ~  Rock & Pipestone Counties  ~  $40  (Base Pipestone)

• pre-MBW option October 17  ~  Murray County ~  $25  (Base Pipestone)


Although several MBWeekends have visited these two counties in the far corner of the state in spring and summer, only a few MBWs have been here in the fall. We will search such unique locatios as Blue Mounds State Park, Pipestone National Monument, and Coteau des Prairies hillsides for migrants – raptors, late shorebirds (Luverne and Pipestone have great sewage ponds), passerines of all sorts, and others. We will especially be alert for strays from the Southwest – the possibilities may be too numerous to mention, but note that Minnesota's first Brewer's Sparrow and Curve-billed Thrasher appeared at Blue Mounds in fall years ago.


Murray County may be neglected by birders, with the adjacent counties getting more attention, but all the more reason for this MBW to attract county listers. Places like Lake Shetek State Park’s woodlands, the Coteau des Prairies grasslands near Chandler, plus numerous lakes and sewage ponds have all proven attractive to fall migrants.


STATUS as of 7 APRIL 2014: FILLED (limit 15 participants) / 2 on waiting list; see NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.  


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• October 30-31, 2014  ~  North Shore I ~  $40  (Base Duluth & Grand Marais)

–  Leader Craig Mandel  –

• pre-MBW option October 29  ~  Duluth  ~  $20  (Base Duluth)


• November 1-2, 2014  ~  North Shore II ~  $40  (Base Duluth & Grand Marais)

pre-MBW option October 31  ~  Mille Lacs  ~  $20  (Base Garrison)


The unexpected is to be expected each fall: past November records include Brant, King Eider, Yellow-billed Loon, Gyrfalcon, Purple Sandpiper, Black-legged Kittiwake, Ancient and Long-billed murrelets, Inca Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Fieldfare, Sage Thrasher, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager – and who can forget MBW's Black Guillemot in 2009 and 2012's Cassin's Kingbird? More likely are Long-tailed and Harlequin ducks, all three scoters, a non-Common loon, Golden Eagle, Thayer's or Glaucous gull, Mountain Bluebird, Townsend's Solitaire, and winter finches. Little wonder this MBW has been a 25-year tradition.


The earlier pre-MBW will cover sites around Duluth that the main MBWeekend may not have time for. Depending on the weather, we may visit Hawk Ridge (for Northern Goshawks, Rough-leggeds, and Golden Eagles), Park Point (for rare waterfowl and gulls), and perhaps Sax-Zim Bog if owls and winter finches are being seen.


The Mille Lacs pre-MBW will circle the entire shoreline of this famous lake, where rare ducks (including all three scoters), both Pacific and Red-throated loons (a MBW once found a Yellow-billed here!), Red Phalarope, Little Gull and Black-legged Kittiwake among all the Bonaparte’s, Arctic Tern, and others have appeared.


STATUS as of 7 APRIL 2014:


North Shore I – 6 registered / 9 vacancies (limit 15 participants).

North Shore II – 27 registered / 3 vacancies (limit 30 participants with 2 leaders).


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• January 3-4, 2015  ~  Winter Duluth I  ~  $35  (Base Duluth)

–  Leader Craig Mandel  –


• January 10-11, 2015  ~  Winter Duluth II  ~  $35  (Base Duluth)


Despite the cold, this popular MBW tradition continues with so many possibilities to begin one's year list: Sharp-tailed Grouse, Northern Goshawk, northern owls (especially Great Gray, N. Hawk, and Snowy), Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing, Snow Bunting, grosbeaks, crossbills, redpolls, and more. We'll also hope for the unexpected: a Harlequin Duck or rare gull on the lakefront; a Gyrfalcon in pursuit of pigeons in the harbor; a Spruce Grouse or American Three-toed Woodpecker in a remote spruce bog; a Townsend's Solitaire, Varied Thrush, or maybe even Boreal Owl lurking in someone's backyard.


STATUS as of 7 APRIL 2014:


Winter Duluth I – 5 registered / 10 vacancies (limit 15 participants).

Winter Duluth II – 14 registered / 1 vacancy (limit 15 participants).



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CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR MBWEEKENDS


NOTE: Registering for a MBWeekend after it is FILLED should still be considered

since there could be cancellations, or an additional leader or extra MBWeekend

can sometimes be arranged to accommodate those on the waiting list.

(Full refund of the MBW fee is provided if no vacancies develop.)