MINNESOTA  BIRDING  WEEKENDS

MARCH 2017  -  JANUARY 2018

~  Our 32nd Season  ~


Grand Marais Harbor



Minnesota Birding Weekends & Weeks (MBW), as it begins its 32nd season, continues to offer unique, modestly priced birding trips in association with the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union (we originated back in 1986 as MOU Birding Weekends). After 31 years, we have now had a total of 389 MBWeekends, more than 8,600 registrations, and a composite list of 363 species seen within the state – and note that our modest MBWeekend fees are even lower than last season!


And be aware as well of our "Frequent Birder" Program – i.e., all participants earn $5 "store credit" coupons for each MBWeekend they attend, with these credits accumulating to earn free registrations on future MBWs.


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



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BE SURE TO NOTE THE DETAILED INFORMATION ON MBWEEKENDS REGISTRATIONS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE

FOLLOWING THE 2017-18 SCHEDULE.



2017 - 2018 MINNESOTA BIRDING WEEKENDS



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.)


CLICK on the MBWEEKENDS BELOW

for summaries of these (or similar) MBWeekends from previous years


(Please note that future changes in this schedule are possible,

and updates on these will appear on this website.)



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March 25 - 26, 2017  •  Southwestern Minnesota

CLICK HERE FOR SUMMARY OF THIS MBWEEKEND


April 21 pre-MBW  •  Grant County

April 22 - 23, 2017  •  Rothsay W. M. A., Wilkin County

CLICK HERE FOR SUMMARY OF THIS MBWEEKEND


May 12 pre-MBW  •  Watonwan County

May 13 - 14, 2017  •  Cottonwood & Murray Counties   

CLICK HERE FOR SUMMARY OF THIS MBWEEK


May 26 pre-MBW  •  Fillmore County

May 27 - 28 - 29, 2017  •  Southeastern Minnesota

CLICK HERE FOR SUMMARY OF THIS MBWEEK  



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June 16 - 17 - 18, 2017  •  Itasca & Koochiching Counties  •  $65

~  Base Grand Rapids (June 15) & International Falls (June 16-17)  ~


Itasca County may not be as remote as Koochiching, but it receives relatively little coverage. Accordingly, we will begin in the extensive boreal forests in and around Scenic State Park (where Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, and Connecticut Warbler all occur) en route to Koochiching County. Probably no other county in the state has as much ornithological potential and mystery as Koochiching, and this three-day MBW will be only our third ever here, as we explore the back roads in this remote county's vast expanses of bogs and coniferous forests. A wide array of specialties can be expected, including Black-backed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied and other flycatchers, Boreal Chickadee, more than 20 nesting warblers (with Golden-winged, Cape May, Connecticut, and Mourning among them), and perhaps even both crossbills – both Spruce Grouse and American Three-toed Woodpeckers have also been found here in recent summers. In addition, special emphasis will be placed on listening to and learning the songs of all those warblers and other passerines singing on territory.


STATUS as of 31 MAY 2017:


• FILLED  (30 confirmed / 0 on waiting list / limit 30 participants)


~  See NOTE under CLICK HERE TO REGISTER on registering for FILLED MBWs  ~


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July 7 pre-MBW  •  Carlton County •  $25

~  Base Moose Lake    Leader Craig Mandel  ~

July 8 - 9, 2017  •  Aitkin County  •  $40

~  Base McGregor    Leader Craig Mandel  ~


(Note the change in dates from those originally published in the MOU newsletter.)


This pre-MBW should be of interest to hard-core county listers, primarily because it is generally overlooked by birders heading elsewhere, as it falls through the cracks between its more popular neighboring counties: Aitkin and St. Louis. (Indeed, one of Minnesota top county listers has found fewer species in Carlton Co. than in any of the other 86 counties.) The boreal specialties of Jay Cook State Park and Fond du Lac State Forest will be especially targeted.       


The highly sought Yellow Rail is easily heard and – with flashlight, boots, patience, and lots of effort – sometimes even seen 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 Owl (one of this county's specialties) and maybe a Short-eared, both Alder and Yellow-bellied flycatchers, Boreal Chickadee, Winter and Sedge wrens, nearly 20 species of nesting warblers (including Golden-winged, Cape May, Pine, Mourning, and Connecticut), and both Le Conte's and Nelson's sparrows. Note that many of these will still be singing for those interested in improving your song ID skills.


STATUS as of 31 MAY 2017:


• pre-MBW  –  3  VACANCIES  (12 confirmed / limit 15 participants)

• Aitkin MBW  –  FILLED  (15 confirmed / 3 on waiting list / limit 15)


~  See NOTE under CLICK HERE TO REGISTER on registering for FILLED MBWs  ~


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August 11 pre-MBW  •  Traverse & Grant Counties •  $25

~  Base Morris  ~

August 12 - 13, 2017  •  Stevens & Big Stone Counties  •  $40

~  Base Morris  ~


Traverse and Grant counties, formerly included on the main MBWeekend, now have their own full day with more time to include the mudflats and marshes around Mud Lake along the South Dakota line and especially the concentrations of herons/egrets and shorebirds at the excellent North Ottawa impoundment in Grant County. MBWs here have also found Le Conte's and Henslow's sparrows at Miller Prairies East and West.


This late-summer MBW has now become an annual tradition, evolving into our shorebird ID workshop. If the water levels are right, 20 shorebird species or more are a real possibility, where there are several productive sewage ponds plus countless natural prairie wetlands in Big Stone County. Our recent MBWs here have found a good variety waterfowl, Western (and sometimes Clark's) Grebes, Least Bitterns and other herons/egrets (including Little Blue and Snowy), Eastern Screech-Owl, impressive masses of migrating swallows, some early fall migrant warblers, Henslow's and Le Conte's sparrows, plus lingering Upland Sandpipers, Western Kingbirds, Dickcissels, Bobolinks, and Orchard Orioles.


STATUS as of 31 MAY 2017:


• pre-MBW  –  9  VACANCIES  (6 confirmed / limit 15 participants)

• Stevens-Big Stone MBW  –  8  VACANCIES  (7 confirmed / limit 15)


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September 1 pre-MBW  •  Lake of the Woods County •  $25

~  Base Baudette  ~

September 2 - 3 - 4, 2017  •  Northwestern Minnesota  •  $65

~  Base Warroad  ~


The pre-MBW in under-birded Lake of the Woods County will focus on finding migrants along the shoreline of Lake of the Woods itself, including Arnesen, Zippel Bay, and Morris Point. In addition, the vast Beltrami Island State Forest offers potential for several boreal additions to this weekend's list – with luck, maybe even a Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, or Red Crossbill will be found.


This will be our 14th consecutive Labor Day Weekend in this far corner of the state, and, with relatively little birding here in fall, the list of possibilities remains both potentially long and refreshingly unpredictable. Some of our unexpected finds on this MBW have included Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron (together in 2016), Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Little Gull (in 2015), Prairie Falcon, Red Knot, Long-tailed Jaeger (!), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Nelson's Sparrow. As many as 25 shorebirds (including American Avocet, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and once a group of 145 Red-necked Phalaropes) and 20 warbler species have been recorded on this MBW, along with multiple Short-eared Owls, a group of 6 Black-backed Woodpeckers, Black-billed Magpies (we once counted 110 in a flock), and Le Conte's Sparrows. We can expect to see 150 species or so (170 is possible) as we visit sites in and around Roseau County, such as Roseau River and Thief Lake WMAs, the migrant traps along Warroad waterfront and at Springsteel Island, and the always productive sewage ponds in Warroad, Roseau, and Greenbush.


STATUS as of 31 MAY 2017:


• pre-MBW  –  17  VACANCIES  (13 confirmed / limit 30 participants)

• Northwestern Minn. MBW  –  17  VACANCIES  (13 confirmed / limit 30)


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October 13 pre-MBW  •  Redwood County •  $25

~  Base Redwood Falls  ~

October 14 - 15, 2017  •  Lyon & Lincoln Counties  •  $40

~  Base Marshall  ~


Especially during migration, the fascinating blend of backwaters, juniper groves, rocky grassland hillsides, and deciduous woodlands along the Minnesota River corridor often attracts an interesting array of birds – including migrants from both the West and East. And the Redwood County portion of this valley is especially interesting, since it includes the extensive juniper stands of Swedes Forest WMA and Cedar Rock, and the woodlands of Alexander Ramsey Park.         


These counties’ numerous wetlands, grasslands, and woodlands – including Black Rush Lake, Coon Creek WMA, Camden State Park, Garvin and Hole-in-the-Mountain county parks, and the fascinating Coteau des Prairies hillsides near Lake Benton – all provide endless opportunities for fall migrants of all kinds, especially raptors (perhaps a Golden Eagle or Prairie Falcon among them?), late-lingering shorebirds, gulls (we've seen Sabine's here), longspurs (including Smith's on occasion), and sparrows (possibly 15 species – with Spotted Towhee, several Le Conte's, and even Nelson's among them). Rarities and strays from the Dakotas are always possible as well as we bird along this western edge of Minnesota.


STATUS as of 31 MAY 2017:


• pre-MBW  –  1  VACANCY  (14 confirmed / limit 15 participants)

• Lyon-Lincoln MBW  –  FILLED  (15 confirmed / 0 on waiting list / limit 15)


~  See NOTE under CLICK HERE TO REGISTER on registering for FILLED MBWs  ~


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November 2 - 3, 2017    North Shore I •  $40

~  Base Duluth (Nov. 1) & Grand Marais (Nov. 2)  ~


November 4 - 5, 2017  •  North Shore II •  $40

~  Base Duluth (Nov. 3) & Grand Marais (Nov. 4)  ~


The unexpected is literally to be expected here each fall! Past November records include Brant, King Eider, Yellow-billed Loon, Purple Sandpiper, Black-legged Kittiwake, both Ancient and Long-billed murrelets, Inca Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Fieldfare, Sage Thrasher – plus MBW's Black Guillemot in 2009, Cassin's Kingbird in 2012,  2 Common Eiders in 2014, both Vermilion Flycatcher and White-eyed Vireo in 2015. More likely on this MBW (now a 25+ year tradition) are Long-tailed (and Harlequin?) ducks, all three scoters, un-common loons, Thayer's or Glaucous gull, Black-backed Woodpecker, Mountain Bluebird or a Townsend's Solitaire, Bohemian Waxwing, and winter finches.


STATUS as of 31 MAY 2017:


• North Shore I MBW  –  11  VACANCIES  (19 confirmed / limit 30 participants)

• North Shore II MBW  –  2  VACANCIES  (13 confirmed / limit 15)


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January 6-7, 2018  •  Winter Duluth I •  $40

~  Base Duluth  ~

January 8, 2018 post-MBW  •  Winter Duluth II •  $25

~  Base Duluth  ~


(Note that the January 5 pre-MBW has been changed to a January 8 post-MBW.)

  

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, Northern Hawk, and Snowy), Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing, Snow Bunting, grosbeaks, crossbills, redpolls, and more. And we'll also hope for the unexpected: a Harlequin or other rare duck (like 2015's Common Eider), an unusual gull (like 2016's Ivory Gull!), or a Gyrfalcon in pursuit of pigeons on the lakeshore; a Spruce Grouse or American Three-toed Woodpecker in a remote spruce bog; a Townsend's Solitaire, Varied Thrush, or even a Boreal Owl lurking in someone's yard.


Because Minnesota's sought-after specialties are so highly sought and often so difficult to find, and since the possibility of heavy snow or extreme cold could negatively impact our travel and birding plans, this extra day should prove useful. The itinerary this day will depend on how we did on the two previous days – i.e., devoted to finding any key species we might have missed earlier, or to covering any birding areas we might not have had time for.


STATUS as of 31 MAY 2017:


• Winter Duluth I MBW  –  FILLED  (15 confirmed / 0 on waiting list / limit 15 participants)

• post-MBW  –  2  VACANCIES  (13 confirmed / limit 15)


~  See NOTE under CLICK HERE TO REGISTER on registering for FILLED MBWs  ~

  



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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.)



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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 MBWEEKENDS CAN BECOME FILLED MONTHS IN ADVANCE. The maximum numbrer of confirmed registrations 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.


• 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 one month before the MBW. Unless stated otherwise, MBWeekends normally begin at dawn on Saturday, end early afternoon on Sunday (or on Monday for 3-day MBWs), and are typically based in the same city on Friday and Saturday nights.


The Friday pre-Weekends may be taken separately or along with the corresponding MBWs on the following days in adjacent counties.


Transportation, meals, and lodging are not included in the MBWeekend fees. Participants can make arrangements to car pool to the base city or to share lodging – a participants list and lodging options in the base city are included with the e-mailed information about the MBW. 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 and normally limited to four vehicles.


All MBW participants are expected to be Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union members (see http://moumn.org/join.html for membership information).


Please note these changes in policy on MBWeekend cancellations:


  Confirmed registrants who cancel at least 10 days in advance of a MBWeekend will receive MBW "store credit" (not a refund) of the MBW's fee; this credit can be applied to any future MBWeekend or MBWeek. Any store credits for cancellations less than 10 days in advance of the MBWwould depend on the individual circumstances.


  If you are placed on a waiting list for a MBWeekend, you will receive a full refund of your MBWeekend fee (not just "store credit") if not enough cancellations/vacancies ever occur for you to be confirmed. (MBWeekends which are canceled or shortened due to severe weather, limited lodging, leader unavailability, etc., would also result in full or pro-rated refunds.)


  If you request to be removed from a waiting list at any time, you will receive MBW "store credit" of the full MBW fee. These credits can be applied to any future MBWeekend or MBWeek fee or deposit.