The potential species on the late September 2024 MBW

will be similar to those found on the following October MBWs

(some of which included counties which are not on this MBW's itinerary).




October 7 - 8 - 9, 2011

Given that our MBW motto has always been No Refunds, I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised when no one on Friday took advantage of my offer to forgo the day's high winds and receive a refund of their MBW fee. At times it looked like a proverbial plague of locusts of Biblical proportions as cornfield debris blew across the roads during those sustained 30+ mph winds with 50+ mph gusts! Mercifully, the winds on Saturday & Sunday calmed down to "merely" 15-25 mph – also too strong, but no one was complaining after Friday's experience. It was also 80-85 degrees each day (just as it had been for a week), about 20 above normal, so conditions were hardly conducive to fall migration activity with those persistent and prevailing south winds.

Still, we managed to find a nice array of birds, and in the process we encountered a few interesting ID challenges. Among these were a couple of sparrows of note: that juvenile Le Conte's which strongly suggested it was a Grasshopper (except for its nape pattern), and an actual Grasshopper Sparrow perched up on a tree branch in the woods (!) sporting a bold eye-ring (a feature of fresh-plumaged fall/winter birds). There was also the juvenile Marsh Wren which looked like a Sedge Wren (except for its solidly unstreaked crown). And, of course, there was that Smith's Longspur vs Black-headed Grosbeak contest on Sunday – given the brief and obscured view, such ID confusion is not as strange as you might think.

There were other highlights as well, including: Saturday's unexpected white-fronted geese flying overhead; finding no fewer than 3 Peregrines in 3 different counties on 3 different days (hardly easy to do in SW Minn); a dozen shorebird species (very dry conditions exposed some mudflats for us); a heard-only-by-some screech-owl at Brian's not-so-secret spot in Worthington; 14 sparrow species (one more than on Doug Buri's workshop), including an elusive towhee that was probably a Spotted; some Great-tailed Grackles along Hwy 86 on Sunday....and I'd have to say that Saturday's dinner at the Kinbrae Supper Club could be considered another highlight of this MBW.

As always, my thanks for everyone for declining their refunds, surviving the difficult weather, and hanging on to the scopes during those gale-force gusts. I especially thank Travis for tolerating his first MBW (and narrowly escaping the dubious honor of receiving a Junior Tour Leader Merit Badge!), and thanks as well to Marcia J and Pat who had their first MBW experience on Friday.  -Kim Eckert

[PS - While some would claim that I am Minnesota's Sewage Pond King (I've been to over 280 of them), I may have to relinquish my throne. After all, some of us added several species at Jackson's ponds after lunch on Sunday, and, for reasons unknown, they are missing from the official sewage pond checklist so many of you cherish! I humbly apologize for this serious oversight and thank Ron for calling this to my attention.]    

BIRD LIST (111 species + 3 others: 1 only in Iowa + 1 Brian-only godwit + 1 longspur/grosbeak) 

C = Cottonwood County (October 7)

B = Brown County (October 7)

N = Nobles County (October 8)

J = Jackson County (October 9)

Greater White-fronted Goose    N

Cackling Goose    J

Canada Goose    CBNJ

Trumpeter Swan    C

Wood Duck    CBNJ

Gadwall    J

American Wigeon    J

Mallard    CBNJ

Blue-winged Teal    CBNJ

Northern Shoveler    CNJ

Northern Pintail    NJ

Green-winged Teal    BNJ

Redhead    J

scaup, sp.    J

Ruddy Duck    CBJ

Ring-necked Pheasant    CN

Common Loon    J

Pied-billed Grebe    CNJ

Double-crested Cormorant    NJ

American White Pelican    NJ

Great Blue Heron    CNJ

Great Egret    NJ

Turkey Vulture    BNJ

Osprey    BNJ

Bald Eagle    CJ

Northern Harrier    BN

Sharp-shinned Hawk    NJ

Cooper's Hawk    CJ

Red-tailed Hawk    CBNJ

American Kestrel    N

Merlin    B

Peregrine Falcon    BNJ

American Coot    BNJ

Black-bellied Plover    B

American Golden-Plover    CN

Killdeer    CBNJ

Spotted Sandpiper    B

Lesser Yellowlegs    CBN

[Hudsonian Godwit    N (a Brian-only bird on Friday)]

Semipalmated Sandpiper    N

Least Sandpiper    CBN

Baird's Sandpiper    BN

Pectoral Sandpiper    CBN

Stilt Sandpiper    N

Long-billed Dowitcher    CBN

Wilson's Snipe    C

[Bonaparte's Gull    IA-only (Spirit L on Sunday)]

Franklin's Gull    CNJ

Ring-billed Gull    CNJ

Forster's Tern    J

Rock Pigeon    CBNJ

Eurasian Collared-Dove    BN

Mourning Dove    CBNJ

Eastern Screech-Owl    N

Belted Kingfisher    BNJ

Red-headed Woodpecker    J

Red-bellied Woodpecker    NJ

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker    NJ

Downy Woodpecker    CNJ

Hairy Woodpecker    NJ

Northern Flicker    CNJ

Eastern Phoebe    CNJ

Blue Jay    CNJ

American Crow    CBNJ

Horned Lark    N

Tree Swallow    J

Barn Swallow    N

Black-capped Chickadee    CNJ

Red-breasted Nuthatch    N

White-breasted Nuthatch    CNJ

Brown Creeper    CN

House Wren    N

Marsh Wren    N

Ruby-crowned Kinglet    CNJ

Eastern Bluebird    NJ

Swainson's Thrush    C

American Robin    CBNJ

Gray Catbird    NJ

European Starling    CBNJ

American Pipit    CBN

Cedar Waxwing    CNJ

Lapland Longspur    NJ

Orange-crowned Warbler    J

Palm Warbler    J

Yellow-rumped Warbler    CNJ

towhee, sp.    N

Chipping Sparrow    CNJ

Clay-colored Sparrow    B

Vesper Sparrow    CNJ

Savannah Sparrow    CBNJ

Grasshopper Sparrow    N

Le Conte's Sparrow    N

Fox Sparrow    C

Song Sparrow    CNJ

Lincoln's Sparrow    NJ

White-throated Sparrow    CBNJ

Harris's Sparrow    CBNJ

White-crowned Sparrow    CN

Dark-eyed Junco    CNJ

Northern Cardinal    CJ

[Black-headed Grosbeak?    J (possible adult male seen briefly)]

Indigo Bunting    J

Red-winged Blackbird    CBNJ

Western Meadowlark    N

Yellow-headed Blackbird    NJ

Rusty Blackbird    C

Common Grackle    CNJ

Great-tailed Grackle    J

Brown-headed Cowbird    NJ

Purple Finch    C

House Finch    N

Pine Siskin    N

American Goldfinch    BNJ

House Sparrow    CBNJ

*          *          *


October 18-19-20, 2013

Yes, indeed, that Mute Swan was still around on Sunday to be officially recorded as #359 on the all-time MBWeekends composite species list – and, more importantly, we have now seen all 314 Regular species on the MN list! The swan was seen on Thursday in Nicollet Co en route to the MBW, and most of the group was there to see it on the way home on Sunday afternoon after it had returned to its original Sibley Co location to make it a countable MBW bird.

But, of course, there was much more that we saw in between these two White Starling sightings. Probably more significant was Friday's Sprague's Pipit we found at Rock Ridge Prairie SNA, a Casual species not reported in the state every year. It may have been harder to see than that swan, but I think everyone was at least able to note its characteristic flight, foraging behavior, and extensive white outer tail feathers, and it was cooperative enough to stay until Saturday so the Andersons and Linda could see it.

Especially noteworthy as well were the Surf Scoter at the Mountain Lake sewage ponds, those 3 Le Conte's Sparrows at Wolf Lake WPA (one of which uncharacteristically posed nicely to be studied at length in the scopes), and the highly local Great-tailed Grackles which finally emerged into view along Hwy 86. Other highlights included 2 Greater White-fronted Geese at Illinois Lake, a surprisingly large concentration of 20+ Gray Partridge on both side of the Brown-Cottonwood county line, 9 shorebird species (especially at Plum Lake's mudflats), and that striking partial albino junco near Kilen Woods.

And we certainly witnessed fall migration in full swing with that nice movement of raptors over the Des Moines River valley on Saturday, all those robins concentrated at the Windom cemetery on Friday and on the back side of Kilen Woods State Park on Sunday, and especially those hordes of grackles – the flocks swarming west of Hwy 86 on Saturday afternoon, and our conservative estimate of 60,000 birds moving along the Des Moines River on Sunday.

BIRD LIST (103 species, incl 1 in Iowa + 1 in Sibley Co)

C = Cottonwood Co, October 18 (75 species)

J = Jackson Co, October 19-20 (88 species)

Greater White-fronted Goose      J

Snow Goose      CJ

Cackling Goose      CJ

Canada Goose      CJ

Mute Swan / Sibley Co

Trumpeter Swan      C

Wood Duck      CJ

Gadwall      CJ

American Wigeon      CJ

Mallard      CJ

Blue-winged Teal      CJ

Northern Shoveler      CJ

Northern Pintail      J

Green-winged Teal      CJ

Canvasback      CJ

Redhead      J

Ring-necked Duck      CJ

Lesser Scaup      C

Surf Scoter      C

Bufflehead      J

Hooded Merganser      J

Ruddy Duck      CJ

Gray Partridge      C

Ring-necked Pheasant      J

Pied-billed Grebe      CJ

Horned Grebe      J

Double-crested Cormorant      CJ

American White Pelican      CJ

Great Blue Heron      J

Bald Eagle      J

Northern Harrier      CJ

Sharp-shinned Hawk      J

Cooper's Hawk      J

Red-tailed Hawk      CJ

American Kestrel      J

Sora      C

American Coot      CJ

Killdeer      CJ

Spotted Sandpiper      J

Greater Yellowlegs      J

Lesser Yellowlegs      J

Least Sandpiper      CJ

Baird's Sandpiper      J

Pectoral Sandpiper      CJ

Long-billed Dowitcher      CJ

Wilson's Snipe      CJ

Franklin's Gull      CJ

Ring-billed Gull      CJ

Herring Gull      J

Forster's Tern / Iowa-only

Rock Pigeon      CJ

Eurasian Collared-Dove      CJ

Mourning Dove      CJ

Belted Kingfisher      J

Red-bellied Woodpecker      CJ

Downy Woodpecker      CJ

Hairy Woodpecker      J

Northern Flicker      CJ

Pileated Woodpecker      J

Eastern Phoebe      C

Blue Jay      CJ

American Crow      CJ

Horned Lark      C

Barn Swallow      J

Black-capped Chickadee      CJ

White-breasted Nuthatch      CJ

Marsh Wren      C

Golden-crowned Kinglet      C

Ruby-crowned Kinglet      CJ

Eastern Bluebird      CJ

Hermit Thrush      J

American Robin      CJ

European Starling      CJ

American Pipit      J

Sprague's Pipit      C

Cedar Waxwing      CJ

Orange-crowned Warbler      J

Yellow-rumped Warbler      CJ

American Tree Sparrow      CJ

Chipping Sparrow      CJ

Vesper Sparrow      CJ

Savannah Sparrow      CJ

Le Conte's Sparrow      C

Fox Sparrow      CJ

Song Sparrow      CJ

Lincoln's Sparrow      CJ

Swamp Sparrow      CJ

White-throated Sparrow      CJ

Harris's Sparrow      CJ

White-crowned Sparrow      CJ

Dark-eyed Junco      CJ

Northern Cardinal      J

Rose-breasted Grosbeak      C

Red-winged Blackbird      CJ

Western Meadowlark      CJ

Rusty Blackbird      C

Brewer's Blackbird      CJ

Common Grackle      CJ

Great-tailed Grackle      J

Brown-headed Cowbird      CJ

House Finch      CJ

American Goldfinch      CJ

House Sparrow      CJ

*          *          *


October 1-2, 2005

It would be tempting to blame the high winds for the relative lack of birds, especially in the woods. But I suspect the birding would have been slow even if the winds had been calmer, given how generally uneventful the weather/birding has been in Minnesota so far this fall. It might also be tempting to say it was an unsuccessful MBW, but that was hardly the case considering there were several birds of interest among our 75 species: e.g., the Gray Partridge flock (finally!) and Horned Grebe at Magnolia, 2 Swainson's Hawks (incl. a dark-morph bird!), Peregrine Falcon, Long-billed Dowitcher, a 30-year-old (!?) Eastern Screech-Owl at the "usual spot", and Linda's less-than-cooperative Spotted Towhee at Blue Mounds.

(Note: except for those few species marked P, which were only seen in Pipestone Co., everything else was found in Rock Co.)    

Canada Goose

Wood Duck



Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Green-winged Teal

Redhead   P

Lesser Scaup   P

Ruddy Duck   P

Gray Partridge

Ring-necked Pheasant

Pied-billed Grebe

Horned Grebe

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Turkey Vulture


Northern Harrier   P

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Peregrine Falcon


Greater Yellowlegs

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Long-billed Dowitcher

Franklin’s Gull

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Eastern Screech-Owl

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Eastern Phoebe

Blue Jay

American Crow

Horned Lark

Barn Swallow

White-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren

Winter Wren

Sedge Wren

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

American Robin

Gray Catbird

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Orange-crowned Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Spotted Towhee

Chipping Sparrow   P

Field Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Common Grackle

House Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

*          *          *


October 17 - 18 - 19, 2014

I don't think any of us were fully prepared in Murray County on Friday for sustained winds of 20 mph with higher gusts and an afternoon "high" in the low 40s. We were then even less prepared when this dramatic weather change failed to produce any appreciable migration for our three-day MBW in southwestern Minn. But at least the winds died down and the sun pushed temperatures back into the mid-50s on Saturday and closer to 70 Sunday afternoon. Under these pleasant conditions, though, there were still relatively few birds (except grackles!) to be found in the wake of Friday's cold front. 

Especially conspicuous by their absence were ducks (just 10 species in low numbers), raptors (aside from Red-taileds, only an Osprey, 3 or 4 eagles, and a couple of harriers), shorebirds (only 5 species), longspurs (none), warblers (not even a Yellow-rumped?), and most other passerines. But at least we were not alone – I've now heard from four other birders elsewhere who reported similar experiences over the weekend. 

But there were some birds worthy of mention, with most of these on Friday. A visit with long-time MBWer Nelvina DeKam in Edgerton resulted in a Red-bellied Woodpecker – new for several Pipestone Co lists (mine included). Later in Murray Co, a sub-adult Bald Eagle flew low overhead in Hadley, suddenly plunged to the surface of Summit Lake to catch a large fish (which may have outweighed the eagle?), and flew back past us to a nearby field where it consumed its prey as we watched. Next, a lone Gray Partridge flew out of a cornfield near Lake Shetek, landed next to the car caravan, flew back into the corn, and then strangely flew back again into view farther up the road. And the day ended at lakes Sarah and Currie which were about the only places that held decent varieties and numbers of water birds.

While little else seemed to be migrating, at least there were some large gatherings of Common Grackles, with the most impressive and entertaining concentration near Blue Mounds State Park which probably consisted of 10,000 individuals or more. Then on the south side of the park a Northern Shrike flew in and provided some brief views before flying off – undoubtedly, this predator was single-handedly responsible for scaring off all the passerines we were trying to find in all three counties we visited!         

But, of course, the weekend highlight for the nine of us who had time on the way home Sunday was the amazing Rufous Hummingbird still lingering at Mary & Steve Nesgoda's feeders near Le Sueur: it even represented #361 on the all-time MBWeekends list.

My thanks to all of you for your presence (and patience) on this MBW, to the Luverne Chamber of Commerce and Joel Adelman for providing access to the Luverne and Pipestone sewage ponds, to Nelvina for inviting us over to her Edgerton neighborhood, to Mary and Steve's hummingbird hospitality, and to Los Tulipanes Restaurant for providing a site for us to recuperate over dinner on Friday and Saturday. 


P = seen in Pipestone County (October 17-18-19)

M = seen in Murray County (October 17)

R = seen in Rock County (October 18)

Cackling Goose     MR     

Canada Goose     PMR

Wood Duck     MR

Gadwall     M

Mallard     PMR

Northern Shoveler     PMR

Northern Pintail     PM

Green-winged Teal     MR

Redhead     P

Ring-necked Duck     P

Hooded Merganser     M

Ruddy Duck     PM

Gray Partridge     M

Ring-necked Pheasant     PMR

Pied-billed Grebe     PMR

Horned Grebe     M

Double-crested Cormorant     M

American White Pelican     M

Great Blue Heron     PMR

Great Egret     PM

Osprey     R

Bald Eagle     M

Northern Harrier     PR

Red-tailed Hawk     PMR

American Coot     MR

Killdeer     PR

Greater Yellowlegs     MR

Lesser Yellowlegs     M

Pectoral Sandpiper     MR

Wilson's Snipe     PMR

Franklin's Gull     PM

Ring-billed Gull     PM

Herring Gull     M

Rock Pigeon     PMR

Eurasian Collared-Dove     PMR

Mourning Dove     PR

Great Horned Owl     R

Rufous Hummingbird (in Le Sueur Co)

Belted Kingfisher     PR

Red-bellied Woodpecker     PM

Downy Woodpecker     PMR

Hairy Woodpecker     PMR

Northern Flicker     PM

Eastern Phoebe     M

Northern Shrike     R

Blue Jay     PMR

American Crow     PMR

Black-capped Chickadee     PMR

White-breasted Nuthatch     PMR

Brown Creeper     R

Golden-crowned Kinglet     R

Ruby-crowned Kinglet     PR

Eastern Bluebird     P

American Robin     PMR

European Starling     PMR

American Pipit     PR

Cedar Waxwing     R

American Tree Sparrow     R

Chipping Sparrow     PMR

Field Sparrow     R

Savannah Sparrow     PMR

Fox Sparrow     R

Song Sparrow     PR

Lincoln's Sparrow     R

Swamp Sparrow     PR

White-throated Sparrow     PMR

Harris's Sparrow     PMR

White-crowned Sparrow     PR

Dark-eyed Junco     PMR

Red-winged Blackbird     PMR

Western Meadowlark     PMR

Rusty Blackbird     R

Brewer's Blackbird     M

Common Grackle     PMR

Brown-headed Cowbird     MR

House Finch     PR

House Sparrow     PMR