October 30-31 and November 1-2, 2014

(including Oct. 29 Duluth and Oct. 31 Mille Lacs pre-MBWs) 

King Eider, Good Harbor Bay, 1 November 2014 (Jena Highkin photo)

Northern Saw-whet Owl, Two Harbors, 1 November 2014 (Gerry Hoekstra photo)

Great Crested Flycatcher, near Silver Bay, 30 October 2014 (Larry Sirvio photo)

Northern Parula, Croftville Road, 2 November 2014 (Roy Zimmerman photo) 

So, I know the Pacific Loon on Mille Lacs was too far away for photos, but as evidenced by the four images above, it was a pretty eventful five-day weekend! There were times, though, with few if any birds to be found at some of our stops, as it seemed that almost all the fall migrants had departed earlier in October, and the winter specialties were just beginning to arrive. But there were certainly some moments of excitement as is usually the case along the North Shore in late fall.

Wednesday's Duluth pre-MBW (preceding North Shore I) did start things out fairly slowly as all we could manage were 30 species in Duluth plus two others seen only in Wisconsin. Still, there was a decent raptor flight at Hawk Ridge, and our drive over to view the Minnesota side of the Superior Entry breakwaters gave us Iceland and Thayer's gulls (with another Thayer's at Canal Park en route). And including the Iceland Gull we had five species not seen on any of the other days, including a late Great Blue Heron and a distant Golden Eagle at Hawk Ridge.            

Friday's pre-MBW (before North Shore II) which circumnavigated Mille Lacs was also on the slow side with 41 species, although the juvenile Pacific Loon we found on Wigwam Bay on the west side of the lake clearly made the day worthwhile – and it was even #300 for Janet M's Minnesota list. There were dozens of Common Loons to study as well during the day, and we saw eight species not to be found on any of the other days, including some modest numbers of Tundra Swans and Bonaparte's Gulls.

Craig Mandel led the North Shore I MBW on Thursday-Friday and came up with 57 species, with the carefully identified and very late Great Crested Flycatcher near Silver Bay the obvious highlight of their trip. (At this time of year thoughts turn to the real possibility of an Ash-throated Flycatcher, which would be a third state record.) Other highlights included a well-seen Black-backed Woodpecker flying by Stoney Point, the Ross's and other geese at the golf course in Two Harbors (which were still there for North Shore II), some Bohemian Waxwings in Grand Marais (found on North Shore II in Beaver Bay), a locally-rare Red-bellied Woodpecker near Grand Marais (and there were two others on North Shore II), plus Thayer's Gulls (also on North Shore II) and all three scoters back in Duluth Friday afternoon to conclude the MBW.  

And there were even more birds of note waiting for the larger North Shore II MBW group led by Craig and me which found 60 species in all on Saturday-Sunday. At first we weren't seeing much until we made it to Two Harbors and got the report from other birders who found a Northern Saw-whet Owl roosting in a cedar tree. An agitated chickadee had led to its discovery, and the owl was still there as 30 MBWers arrived on the scene. But even more significant later that day was a female-plumaged King Eider in Good Harbor Bay near Grand Marais. Though somewhat distant, this somewhat nondescript duck was carefully identified next to two White-winged Scoters before it flew off and could not be relocated the next day. 

Early Sunday morning most of the group headed up to a side road off the Gunflint Trail in search of Spruce Grouse and an Am. Three-toed, both found there the previous week. Though we came up empty on these, some nice consolations were groups of Boreal Chickadees and a cooperative Red Crossbill posing atop a tall spruce. And there was another consolation later that morning as we relocated a Northern Parula along the Croftville Road near Grand Marais, something just as unexpectedly late as Thursday's Great Crested Flycatcher.


BIRD LIST (composite total = 88 species)

- D = Duluth pre-MBW, Oct 29 (all except 2 in St Louis Co)

- M = Mille Lacs pre-MBW, Oct 31 (Mille Lacs, Crow Wing, Aitkin Co's) 

- NS I = North Shore I MBW, Oct 30-31

- NS II = North Shore II MBW, Nov 1-2

(S) = St Louis Co

(L) = Lake Co

(C) = Cook Co

Snow Goose     NS I (L - 4 geese in Two Harbors), NS II (L - ditto)         

Ross's Goose     NS I (L), NS II (L) 

Cackling Goose     NS I (L), NS II (L) 

Canada Goose     D, M, NS I (LC), NS II (SL) 

Tundra Swan     M

American Black Duck     D, NS II (SC)

Mallard     D, M, NS I (L), NS II (SC)

Northern Pintail     NS I (C - unexpected Gunflint Trail fly-by) 

Redhead     NS I (L), NS II (L) 

Ring-necked Duck     NS I (L) 

Greater Scaup     NS I (S), NS II (S) 

King Eider     NS II (C) !

Surf Scoter     NS I (S - Park Point), NS II (S - ditto) 

White-winged Scoter     D (WI-only fly-by), NS I (SC), NS II (C) 

Black Scoter     D (WI-only fly-by), NS I (S - Park Point) 

Long-tailed Duck     NS II (C - distant Hovland fly-by)

Bufflehead     M, NS I (L), NS II (LC) 

Common Goldeneye     M, NS I (SC), NS II (S) 

Hooded Merganser     M, NS I (L) 

Common Merganser     D, M

Red-breasted Merganser     D, M, NS I (SC), NS II (S)

Pacific Loon     M (!)

Common Loon     D, M, NS I (C) 

Pied-billed Grebe     M

Horned Grebe     D, M, NS I (SC), NS II (SC) 

Red-necked Grebe     M, NS I (S), NS II (C) 

Great Blue Heron     D (late)

Osprey     NS I (C - late) 

Bald Eagle     D, M, NS I (SLC), NS II (SLC)

Northern Harrier     D 

Sharp-shinned Hawk     NS I (L) 

Northern Goshawk     D (Hawk Ridge), NS II (C - Lima Mt Rd fly-by)

Red-tailed Hawk     D, NS I (LC), NS II (LC) 

Rough-legged Hawk     NS I (LC), NS II (LC)     

Golden Eagle     D (distantly at Hawk Ridge)

American Coot     M

Bonaparte's Gull     M

Ring-billed Gull     D, M, NS I (SL), NS II (SL) 

Herring Gull     D, M, NS I (SLC), NS II (SLC) 

Thayer's Gull     D (Canal Park, Superior Entry), NS I (S - Canal Park), NS II (S - ditto)  

Iceland Gull     D (Superior Entry)

Rock Pigeon     D, NS I (SLC), NS II (SLC)  

Mourning Dove     NS II (L)

Northern Saw-whet Owl     NS II (L) !

Red-bellied Woodpecker     M, NS I (C), NS II (LC) 

Downy Woodpecker     D, M, NS I (LC), NS II (SLC) 

Hairy Woodpecker     D, M, NS I (L), NS II (SLC) 

Black-backed Woodpecker     NS I (S - Stoney Pt fly-by) 

Northern Flicker     NS I (S) 

Pileated Woodpecker     D, M, NS I (C), NS II (LC) 

American Kestrel     NS I (L) 

Great Crested Flycatcher     NS I (L) ! 

Northern Shrike     M, NS II (LC)

Gray Jay     NS II (C)

Blue Jay     D, M, NS I (LC), NS II (SLC) 

American Crow     D, M, NS I (SLC), NS II (SLC) 

Common Raven     D, NS I (SLC), NS II (LC) 

Horned Lark     NS I (C), NS II (L) 

Black-capped Chickadee     D, M, NS I (SLC), NS II (SLC) 

Boreal Chickadee     NS II (C - Lima Mt Rd trail)

Red-breasted Nuthatch     D, M, NS I (SC), NS II (SLC) 

White-breasted Nuthatch     D, M, NS II (L)

Brown Creeper     M

Eastern Bluebird     M

Hermit Thrush     NS I (S) 

American Robin     M, NS I (C), NS II (L)

European Starling     M, NS I (SC), NS II (SLC) 

American Pipit     NS I (L), NS II (L) 

Bohemian Waxwing     NS I (C - Grand Marais), NS II (L - Beaver Bay) 

Lapland Longspur     NS I (L), NS II (L) 

Snow Bunting     D, M, NS I (SLC), NS II (SLC) 

Northern Parula     NS II (C) !

Yellow-rumped Warbler     NS I (SL) 

American Tree Sparrow     M, NS I (SLC), NS II (SL) 

White-throated Sparrow     NS II (S)

White-crowned Sparrow     M, NS II (SC)

Dark-eyed Junco     M, NS I (SLC), NS II (SLC) 

Northern Cardinal     M

Red-winged Blackbird     D, M

meadowlark, sp.     NS II (LC - probable Westerns)

Common Grackle     D

Pine Grosbeak     NS I (C), NS II (C) 

Purple Finch     M, NS I (C), NS II (C) 

Red Crossbill     NS II (LC - Beaver Bay fly-by; better along Lima Mt trail)

Common Redpoll     NS II (SL)

Pine Siskin     NS I (SLC), NS II (SLC) 

American Goldfinch     M, NS I (S), NS II (SLC) 

House Sparrow     M, NS I (S), NS II (S)

Also see the 2015 and 2014 MBWs summaries

following the summary of the 2016 MBWeekends



November 3-4 and November 5-6, 2016

On this year’s two North Shore MBWs we produced similar results to last year. You'll see that again MBW II came up with a larger list: 66 species compared to the 49 on MBW I. But keep in mind that there were strong south winds on both days of the first MBW, and the first group had fewer pairs of eyes to spot things and stayed together in a single group, while MBW II had twice as many participants and was able to split up most of the time. Still, MBW I came up with 6 species which were not seen on the second MBW, including Red-bellied Woodpecker and Northern Shrike.

The earlier MBW also came up with several birds of interest that the latter group also saw: Cackling Goose, Black and White-winged scoters, Long-tailed Duck, Rough-legged Hawk, and that cooperative Northern Mockingbird in Two Harbors (first found by Jim Lind).

And among those seen only on MBW II were Northern Pintail, Surf Scoter, Red-throated Loon, both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned kinglets, Bohemian Waxwing, Red and White-winged crossbills, Common Redpoll, Western Meadowlark, and Rusty Blackbird.

I would like to thank Dave Benson for his help on the second MBW, so that we were able to locate a second Northern Mockingbird and all those species seen on the run up to the Lima Mountain Road on Sunday – including some close up looks at a Spruce Grouse. I would also like to thank Kim for his help in organizing the logistics and setting up the carpooling – some of which he managed to do all the way from New Zealand & Australia! I also thank all of the participants on both MBWs for joining us on this November traditional along the North Shore.

– Craig Mandel

BIRD LIST (composite list both MBWs = 70 species)

NS I = North Shore I MBW, November 3-4 (49 species)

NS II = North Shore II MBW, November 5-6 (66 species)

S = St Louis County

L = Lake Co County

C = Cook Co County

Cackling Goose          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Canada Goose          NS I (LC)     NS II (SLC)

American Black Duck          NS I (C)

Mallard          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Green-winged Teal          NS I (L)     NS II (L)

Northern Pintail          NS II

Redhead          NS I (L)      NS II (L)

Lesser Scaup          NS I (L)

Surf Scoter          NS II (LC)

White-winged Scoter          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Black Scoter          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Long-tailed Duck          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Bufflehead          NS I (SC)      NS II (C)

Common Goldeneye          NS I (C)     NS II (C)

Hooded Merganser          NS I (SL)    NS II (L)

Red-breasted Merganser          NS I (SC)     NS II (SLC)

Ruffed Grouse          NS I (C)     NS II (LC)

Spruce Grouse          NS II (C)

Horned Grebe          NS I (SLC)     NS II (L)

Red-necked Grebe          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Rock Pigeon          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Morning Dove          NS I (L)     NS II (L)

Wilson's Snipe          NS I (L)

Ring-billed Gull         NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Herring Gull          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Red-throated Loon          NS II (L)

Common Loon          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Bald Eagle          NS I (SLC)     NS II (LC)

Red-tailed Hawk          NS II (L)

Rough-legged Hawk          NS I (L)     NS II (SLC)

(Boreal Owl - possibly heard by Jerry on NS II)

Red-bellied Woodpecker          NS I (C)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker          NS II (C)

Downy Woodpecker          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Hairy Woodpecker          NS I (SC)     NS II (LC)

Pileated Woodpecker          NS I (SLC)     NS II (LC)

Merlin          NS II (C)

Northern Shrike          NS I (LC)

Gray Jay           NS II (C)

Blue Jay          NS I (L)    NS II (LC)

American Crow          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Common Raven          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Horned Lark          NS I (C)     NS II (L)

Black-capped Chickadee          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Red-breasted Nuthatch          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

White-breasted Nuthatch          NS I (LC)     NS II (SLC)

Brown Creeper          NS II (C)

Golden-crowned Kinglet          NS II (S)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet          NS II (L)

American Robin          NS I (LC)     NS II (C)

Northern Mockingbird         NS I (L)     NS II (L)

European Starling          NS I (SL)     NS II (SLC)

Bohemian Waxwing          NS II (C)

Cedar Waxwing          NS II (SL)     NS II (L)

House Sparrow          NS I (SC)     NS II (SLC)

Purple Finch          NS II (LC)

Red Crossbill          NS II (C)

White-winged Crossbill          NS II (SC)

Common Redpoll          NS II (LC)

Pine Siskin          NS I (C)    NS II (LC)

American Goldfinch          NS I (C)     NS II (LC)

Lapland Longspur          NS II (L)

Snow Bunting          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Yellow-rumped Warbler          NS I (SC)

American Tree Sparrow          NS I (C)     NS II (LC)

Dark-eyed Junco          NS I (L)     NS II (SLC)

Northern Cardinal          NS I (C)

Red-winged Blackbird          NS II (C)

Western Meadowlark          NS II (L)

Rusty Blackbird          NS II (L)

Common Grackle          NS I (S)     NS II (S)

*          *          *


November 5-6 and November 7-8, 2015

White-eyed Vireo, 8 November 2015, Artists Point, Grand Marais (Dee Kuder photo)

As you scan through the two North Shore MBW summaries below, it’s evident that MBW II came up with a better list: 66 species (including that White-eared Vireo!) compared to 54 species on MBW I. But keep in mind that there was low overcast/fog/drizzle on the first MBW, and Craig’s group found that most bird activity was over by 2:30 pm on their first day as it started getting dark. His group also had fewer pairs of eyes to spot things and stayed together in a single group, while  MBW II had twice as many participants and was able to split up most of the time. Still, MBW I came up with 4 species (including late-lingering Green-winged Teal and Turkey Vulture, plus a N Shrike) which MBW II didn’t see.

The earlier MBW also came up with several species of interest that the later group also saw: Snow and Cackling geese, all three scoters at various sites, Long-tailed Ducks (best at Good Harbor Bay), Rough-legged Hawks, a Red-bellied Woodpecker in Two Harbors, late Gray Catbirds (Grand Marais on I, Beaver Bay on II) and Brown Thrashers (Grand Marais on I and II, also Two Harbors on II), Bohemian Waxwings (Beaver Bay on I and II, also a few other sites on II), lots of Snow Buntings along the highway, late Yellow-rumped Warblers (near Five Mile Rock on I, MN DOT garage on II), late Harris’s Sparrow in Two Harbors, N Cardinal in Grand Marais, Pine Grosbeaks, and Red Crossbills (Two Harbors on I, Knife River on II).    

And among the birds seen only on MBW II were: a late Double-crested Cormorant, a lone Boreal Chickadee in Beaver Bay, a late unidentified meadowlark (probably Western), Rusty Blackbirds (also Beaver Bay), and migrating redpolls at several locations. The White-eyed Vireo, of course, was far and away the best highlight. First called to our attention on Sunday morning at Artists Point by Suzanne Swanson (who asked for help with its ID), it was eventually seen by the entire MBW group (and by other non-MBWs who were alerted) and was still present later that morning. Not only was this Casual Minnesota species unusually late, but it’s only the second record ever for the northeastern quarter of the state (the first was in October 2001 at Lutsen Sea Villas in Cook Co – spotted by MBWer Jeff Stephenson and others).

BIRD LIST (composite list both MBWs = 70 species)

NS I = North Shore I MBW, November 5-6 (54 species)

NS II = North Shore II MBW, November 7-8 (66 species)

(S) = St Louis County

(L) = Lake Co County

(C) = Cook Co County

Snow Goose          NS I (LC)     NS II (C)

Cackling Goose          NS I (L)     NS II (L)

Canada Goose          NS I (L)     NS II (L)

American Black Duck          NS II (L)

Mallard          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Green-winged Teal          NS I (C)

Surf Scoter          NS I (LC)     NS II (C)

White-winged Scoter          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Black Scoter          NS I (C)     NS II (C)

Long-tailed Duck          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Bufflehead          NS I (C)     NS II (C)

Common Goldeneye          NS I (C)     NS II (SC)

Common Merganser          NS II (L)

Red-breasted Merganser          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Ruffed Grouse          NS II (C)

Common Loon          NS I (SL)     NS II (SL)

Horned Grebe          NS I (LC)     NS II (SC)

Red-necked Grebe          NS I (L)     NS II (L)

Double-crested Cormorant          NS II (L)

Turkey Vulture          NS I (C)

Bald Eagle          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Northern Harrier          NS II (L)

Sharp-shinned Hawk          NS II (L)

Red-tailed Hawk          NS II (L)

Rough-legged Hawk          NS I (LC)     NS II (SLC)

Ring-billed Gull          NS I (SL)     NS II (SL)

Herring Gul          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Rock Pigeon          NS I (LC)     NS II (SLC)

Mourning Dove          NS II (C)

Red-bellied Woodpecker          NS I (L)     NS II (L)

Downy Woodpecker          NS I (SLC)     NS II  (SLC)

Hairy Woodpecker          NS I (L)     NS II (SL)

Pileated Woodpecker          NS I (C)     NS II (SC)

falcon, sp (probably Am Kestrel)         NS II (C)

Northern Shrike          NS I (L)

White-eyed Vireo          NS II (C)

Blue Jay          NS I (LC)     NS II (SLC)

American Crow          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Common Raven          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Horned Lark          NS I (L)     NS II (SLC)

Black-capped Chickadee          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Boreal Chickadee          NS II (L)

Red-breasted Nuthatch          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

White-breasted Nuthatch          NS I (LC)     NS II (L)

Brown Creeper          NS II (C)

Golden-crowned Kinglet          NS I (kinglet, sp / L)     NS II (S)

American Robin          NS I (LC)     NS II (SLC)

Gray Catbird          NS I (C)     NS II (L)

Brown Thrasher          NS I (C)     NS II (LC)

European Starling          NS I (L)     NS II (LC)

American Pipit          NS II (LC)

Bohemian Waxwing          NS I (L)     NS II (LC)

Lapland Longspur          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Snow Bunting          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Yellow-rumped Warbler          NS I (C)     NS II (L)

American Tree Sparrow          NS I (C)     NS II (L)

White-throated Sparrow          NS I (S)

Harris's Sparrow          NS I (L)     NS II (L)

White-crowned Sparrow          NS I (SL)     NS II (LC)

Dark-eyed Junco          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Northern Cardinal          NS I (C)     NS II (C)

Red-winged Blackbird          NS I (C)     NS II (SL)

meadowlark, sp (probably Western)          NS II (L)

Rusty Blackbird          NS II (L)

Pine Grosbeak          NS I (C)     NS II (SLC)

Red Crossbill          NS I (L)     NS II (L)

Common Redpoll          NS II (SLC)

Pine Siskin          NS I (LC)     NS II (SLC)

American Goldfinch          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

House Sparrow          NS I (SL)     NS II (SL)

*          *          *