APRIL 2015 - FEBRUARY 2016
~ Our 30th Season ~

White-tailed Ptarmigan habitat, Mount Rainier, Washington

Minnesota Birding Weekends & Weeks (MBW) is now entering its 30th season offering unique, modestly priced birding trips in association with the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union – we originated in 1986 as MOU Birding Weekends. After 29 years, we have now had a total of nearly 70 MBWeeks involving over 800 participants, and this season our out-of-state MBWeeks will feature South Florida, Magee Marsh & Point Pelee, Newfoundland & Nova Scotia, Southeast Arizona, Washington & British Columbia, Southern California, and South Texas. 

And please be sure to note the relatively inexpensive cost of MBWeeks – typically less than half (sometimes closer to a third) of other tour company fees for similar trips. Note as well our policy of providing “store credit” refunds to MBWeeks participants if the total of trip expenses ends up less than the total amount budgeted. And to mark our 30th year, all MBWeek deposits will be only $30. 

(In addition to our schedule of MBWeeks, please visit the MBWEEKENDS page elsewhere on this website for further information on these in-state MBWs.)

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MBWeek registrations and deposits will 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 MBWEEKS BECOME FILLED SEVERAL MONTHS IN ADVANCE, SOMETIMES ON THE FIRST DAY THAT REGISTRATIONS ARE ACCEPTED. Maximum registration for most MBWeeks is 9 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 two months in advance of a MBWeek will receive a $25 refund of their $30 deposit; refunds for later cancellations would depend on the individual circumstances. Full payment of the MBWeek fee is generally due 3 weeks before the MBWeek begins. Those remaining on waiting lists who are not confirmed for a MBWeek receive full refunds of their deposits.

Please note that the cost of a MBWeek depends on the number of participants. Those who cancel out of a MBWeek for which they were confirmed may still be obligated to cover certain expenses: e.g., if any non-refundable payments had been made on their behalf, or if their cancellations result in higher per-person costs for shared trip expenses.

MBWeek information on the flight options, lodging, meeting time and place, itinerary, updated cost estimates, etc. is sent by e-mail to those registered, usually about 3 months before the MBW. MBWeek fees generally include transportation expenses (usually by rented vehicles), leader’s fees and expenses, entry fees/permits, and lodging during the MBW. Air fares (or other travel expenses to/from the base city) and meals are not included in the tour costs. 

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

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NOTE: Registering for a MBWeek after it is FILLED should still be considered
since there could be cancellations, or an additional leader or extra MBWeek
can sometimes be arranged to accommodate those on the waiting list.
(Full refund of the MBW deposit is provided if no vacancies develop.)

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for summary/summaries of this or a similar MBW from previous year(s)

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• APRIL 19 - 29, 2015  ~  SOUTH FLORIDA


$30 deposit

Point Pelee National Park lies just east of Detroit on the Ontario side of Lake Erie, while Magee Marsh is situated across the lake in Ohio, and combined they represent one of the best migration experiences in all of North America – and deservedly so. Given weather conditions conducive to grounding migrants, it is not unusual to turn up 25 (sometimes even 30) warbler species at Magee or Pelee in a single day! Even on days with uneventful conditions, a birder can often list 20 warblers, along with numbers of flycatchers, vireos, thrushes, tanagers, orioles, and other passerines. Also near Pelee are Rondeau Provincial Park, often a better site for some warblers, and Hillman Marsh, which offers another dimension with its assortment of waders, shorebirds, gulls (often including Little Gull), and terns. After 4+ days at Magee and Pelee, an easy half-day drive to Grayling in central Michigan brings us to the unique jack-pine breeding grounds of singing male Kirtland's Warblers. We'll also visit nearby Tawas Point on Lake Huron, where migrants can also congregate in numbers and rarities frequently turn up. This MBW is designed to car-pool in 2-3 vehicles from Minnesota to Magee Marsh, Point Pelee, Grayling, and return; the option to fly to Detroit and back is also possible. (Per-person fee on 2011 MBW with 10 participants: $685 double-occupancy + gas or airfare + meals.)

STATUS as of 4 MAY 2015: FILLED (limit 10 participants in 3 vehicles) / 2 on waiting list. (See NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.)


• JUNE 29 - JULY 9, 2015  ~  NEWFOUNDLAND & NOVA SCOTIA  ~  $30 deposit

This MBWeek has to be nearly two weeks long with so much to see. Vast and spectacular seabird colonies at Cape St. Mary's and Witless Bay in Newfoundland host Northern Gannets, Atlantic Puffins, Razorbills, both Common and Thick-billed murres, Black Guillemots, and Black-legged Kittiwakes – most of these nesting by the thousands, even tens of thousands, with many of the puffins and gannets as close as 50 feet away! If fog-free, our two ferry crossings between provinces should yield Leach's and Wilson's storm-petrels, Northern Fulmar, three shearwaters (Manx, Great, and Sooty), a jaeger or two, and maybe even a skua or Red Phalarope. Elsewhere in these two provinces are Common Eider, all three scoters, both Rock (on top of Gros Morne) and Willow ptarmigans, Great Cormorant, Black-headed Gull (nesting in Newfoundland), Arctic Tern, Bicknell's Thrush (Cape Breton Highlands), and Nelson's Sparrow. All this plus whales (four species possible – especially Humpbacks) and other marine mammals, caribou in the barrens, moose, spectacular scenery, fresh lobster and other seafood, a unique mix of cultures and the rich history of this Atlantic Canada region – even some of the bird names and highway signs are uniquely cryptic! (Per-person fee on 2014 MBW with 8 participants, including 2 ferry crossings: $2,090 double-occupancy + air fare + meals.)

STATUS as of 4 MAY 2015: FILLED (limit 9 participants) / 2 on waiting list. (See NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.)


• JULY 31 - AUGUST 9, 2015  ~  SOUTHEAST ARIZONA  ~  $30 deposit

This will be our 12th MBWeek during the somewhat cooler monsoon season of late summer when temperatures are quite tolerable – and sometimes even pleasant. In Arizona's unique riparian areas, scenic canyons, and mountains there are a number of specialties, many of these found no where else in the U.S. Among the many possibilities likely to be seen: Montezuma Quail, Mississippi Kite, Gray and Zone-tailed hawks, some owls (possibly Whiskered Screech-, Northern Pygmy, Elf, and Spotted), Common Poorwill, Mexican Whip-poor-will, perhaps a dozen hummingbirds, Elegant Trogon, Arizona Woodpecker, Gilded Flicker, as many as 18 flycatcher species, Mexican Jay, Mexican Chickadee, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Bendire's and Crissal thrashers, Phainopepla, several warblers (Olive, Lucy's, Virginia's, Grace's, Red-faced, Painted Redstart, and others), Abert's Towhee, several sparrows (e.g., Rufous-winged, Botteri's, Cassin's, Black-chinned, and Five-striped), Yellow-eyed Junco, Hepatic and possibly Flame-colored tanagers, Varied Bunting, and Scott's Oriole. Strays from Mexico are frequently reported: previous MBWeeks have recorded Plain-capped Starthroat, Berylline Hummingbird, Eared Quetzal, Sinaloa Wren, Rufous-capped Warbler, and Streak-backed Oriole. (Per-person fee on 2010 MBW with 13 participants: $820 double-occupancy + air fare + meals.)

STATUS as of 4 MAY 2015: FILLED (limit 9 participants) / 3 on waiting list. (See NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.)


$30 deposit
• pre-MBWeek option September 10 - 11*  ~  Mount Rainier

* The Mount Rainier pre-MBW option will be primarily to look for White-tailed Ptarmigan.

The Pacific Northwest provides some of the best birding in western U.S. and Canada – accordingly, this MBW to the Olympic Peninsula and elsewhere along the Washington coast, plus sites around Victoria and Vancouver in southern British Columbia, has much to offer. For example, there is an established population of Sky Larks near Victoria, a species found nowhere else in North America. As many as 30 shorebird species are possible, with such rarities as Pacific Golden-Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Ruff, and Red Phalarope often seen. A Westport Seabirds pelagic trip will be featured, with Black-footed Albatross, Northern Fulmar, 4-5 shearwaters (including Pink-footed, Buller's, and maybe Flesh-footed or Short-tailed), Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, South Polar Skua, possibly all 3 jaegers, and Sabine's Gull all targeted. Our list should also include Sooty Grouse, Brandt's and Pelagic cormorants, some "non-Minnesota" gulls, alcids (Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, Cassin's and Rhinoceros auklets), Northern Pygmy-Owl, migrating Vaux's or Black swifts, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Northwestern Crow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Golden-crowned Sparrow – and possibly White-tailed Ptarmigan on the pre-MBW. (Per-person fee on 2014 MBW with 9 participants, including pelagic birding trip: $1,150 double-occupancy + air fare + meals; Mount Rainier option: $300.)

STATUS as of 4 MAY 2015: FILLED (limit 9 participants) / 5 on waiting list. (See NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled.)


• DECEMBER 26, 2015 - JANUARY 1, 2016  ~  SOUTH TEXAS  I  ~  $30 deposit

See South Texas II below for the description of this 6-day South Texas I MBW, which will be two days shorter and will consequently have an even lower fee. Birding in the Zapata-San Ygnacio-Laredo area, primarily for White-collared Seedeater, are not included on this itinerary. (Per-person fee on Dec. 2011 - Jan. 2012 MBW with 10 participants: $735 double-occupancy + air fare + meals.)

STATUS as of 4 MAY 2015: Tentatively FILLED with 4 participants in 1 vehicle; however, another vehicle will be added if there are 4 or 5 additional registrations. (NOTE that this MBWeek was added to the schedule after the February 13 - 21, 2016 South Texas II MBWeek was filled.)

• JANUARY 16 - 24, 2016  ~  SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA  ~  $30 deposit

This MBWeek and winter vacation includes a full week in California's highly varied coastal, montane, and desert habitats in and near San Diego County, including the unique Salton Sea region. Some 200 species are possible, including a long list of non-Minnesota species: e.g., Brant, Eurasian Wigeon, Black-vented Shearwater, Brandt's and Pelagic cormorants, White-tailed Kite, Ridgway's (formerly Clapper) Rail, several shorebirds (including Mountain Plover, Wandering Tattler, and Surfbird), Heermann's and Yellow-footed gulls, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, Band-tailed Pigeon, Burrowing Owl, Anna's, Costa's and Allen's hummingbirds, Nuttall's and White-headed woodpeckers, Gray Flycatcher, Cassin's Vireo, Mountain Chickadee, Oak Titmouse, California Gnatcatcher, Wrentit, California, Crissal and Le Conte's thrashers, California and Abert's towhees, both Sagebrush and Bell's sparrows, Tricolored Blackbird, introduced Nutmeg Mannikins, and many others. Unexpected strays are always possible, as evidenced by the likes of Blue-footed Booby, Pacific Golden-Plover, Ruddy Ground-Dove, and Red-throated Pipit on previous MBWeeks here. And besides all those birds, be prepared to expect a week of balmy winter weather – with non-Minnesota temperatures in the 60s and 70s! (Per-person fee on 2014 MBW with 8 participants: $980 double-occupancy + air fare + meals.)

STATUS as of 4 MAY 2015: FILLED (limit 9 participants) / 0 on waiting list. (See NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled. ALSO NOTE that if enough additional persons register, it is likely another MBWeek could be scheduled to accommodate the extra participants, probably on January 9-16 or January 24-31, 2016.)


• FEBRUARY 13 - 21, 2016  ~  SOUTH TEXAS  II  ~  $30 deposit

Our 32nd South Texas MBWeek – and vacation from the Minnesota winter! The Lower Rio Grande River Valley hosts a long list of birds that normally occur nowhere else in the U.S., and these include: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Plain Chachalaca, Least Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Hook-billed Kite, White-tailed Hawk, Aplomado Falcon, Whooping Crane (Aransas N.W.R.), Red-billed Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, Green Parakeet, Red-crowned Parrot, Groove-billed Ani, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Common Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed and Green kingfishers, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Great Kiskadee, Tropical and Couch's kingbirds, Green Jay, Cave Swallow, Black-crested Titmouse, Clay-colored Robin, Tropical Parula, White-collared Seedeater, Olive Sparrow, Altamira and Audubon's orioles, and more. Mexican rarities (too numerous to mention) frequently occur, with Muscovy Duck, Masked Duck, Roadside Hawk, Northern Jaçana, Rose-throated Becard, Brown Jay, Golden-crowned Warbler, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Crimson-collared Grosbeak, Blue Bunting, and Black-vented Oriole on recent MBWs. In all, we can expect to enjoy a trip list of 210+ species – along with high temperatures in the 70s: i.e., 50º warmer than in Minnesota. (Per-person fee on 2014 MBW with 8 participants: $1,040 double-occupancy + air fare + meals.)

STATUS as of 4 MAY 2015: FILLED (limit 9 participants) / 3 on waiting list. (See NOTE on registering for MBWs which are filled. ALSO NOTE that an additional South Texas I MBWeek has now been scheduled for December 26, 2015 - January 1, 2016 – see above.)

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NOTE: Registering for a MBWeek after it is FILLED should still 
be considered since there could be cancellations, or an extra MBWeek
can sometimes be scheduled to accommodate those on the waiting list.
(Full refund of the MBW deposit is provided if no vacancies develop.)