Mower - Freeborn - Faribault - Martin MBW Summary

October 11 - 12 - 13 - 14, 2019

At least it was clear and almost wind-free on Monday – it’s just unfortunate we couldn’t bird on into the nice afternoon as Your Spineless, Wishy-washy Tour Leaders had to get back to Duluth. Of course, we could have used some of Monday’s weather during the previous three days when things were downright miserable. Cold west winds in the 20+ mph range combined with “high” temperatures only in the mid-30s to low 40s plus steady snow showers on Saturday made it nearly impossible to bird unless we could find places sheltered from the wind. Still, we managed to come up with a composite total of 115 species during this MBW’s 3 1/2 days, although many of these were only seen by a few of us as birds would often emerge just briefly into view before diving back into cover and out of the cold and wind. This was especially evident on Friday in Mower Co when even the sharpest-eyed among us could personally claim to have seen around 50 or so of the day’s 72 species.

Our day in Mower started along trails at Hormel Nature Center that were somewhat out of the wind and provided us with the day’s best woods birding. A Winter Wren was uncharacteristically visible, a cold Hermit Thrush sat still on what must have been a warm perch for a few minutes for all to see, and there were 6 mostly uncooperative warbler species (including late Tennessee, Nashville, and Chestnut-sided) along with Blue-headed Vireo. Later at Lake Louise State Park we added a 7th warbler (late Black-throated Green) but only a few of us managed brief views. This day ended with the lowest species total of the four, mostly due to this county’s relative absence of wetlands, but at least the Lyle sewage ponds certainly came through for us with 2 Ross’s Geese, along with a few Cackling Geese and our best assortment of ducks.               

Saturday in Freeborn Co began with those persistent cold winds still with us, and things got even worse when wind-blown snow showers began at mid-morning and continued into the afternoon. Because it became difficult to see much, we retreated for an early and long lunch break after trying to scan Albert Lea Lake which at least held a single flock of 830 swimming Franklin’s Gulls. Our two main afternoon stops were at Arrowhead Point County Park (where we walked through wet leaves and snow in search of woods birds) and at Geneva Lake (where a group of 4 Sandhill Cranes flew by in the distance).  

The forecast on Sunday for our day in Faribault Co had been for moderating winds and a few degrees warmer (all the way up to the mid-40s), but of course that never really happened and it was again still too cold and windy. But this eventually became the best day of the four, starting with Steinberg Nature Park in Blue Earth and its nice mix of woods birds and sparrows – we even met the city councilor who was instrumental in creating and managing the park. From there, we headed east along old U.S. Highway 16 where we found some wetlands just west of Walnut Lake WMA, one of our best areas of the MBW. There we found at least 170 Greater White-fronted Geese with a few Snows among them, 6 shorebird species right next to the road (including a group of Long-billed Dowitchers, Least and Pectoral sandpipers, and both yellowlegs), plus American Pipits and a lone Brewer’s Blackbird. The Wells sewage ponds were a bit disappointing, but the east side of Minnesota Lake was especially impressive with a quite unexpected group of 13 American Avocets braving the winds next to shore by the park in town – our 7th shorebird of the day and the 8th during the MBW.

After 3 days of battling the weather, we were finally treated to pleasant conditions on Monday in Martin Co. Unfortunately, we only had time for a half day’s birding, but we did well at Cedar Park in Fairmont where there was almost non-stop bird activity along the park’s main trail. Here everyone saw an unexpected Red-breasted Nuthatch, and a few in our group had a brief view of a late Magnolia Warbler (our 8th warbler species of the MBW). There was then time for heavily wooded Timberlane County Park just south of Fairmont, where there was lots of activity which included another late Black-throated Green Warbler, and some heard a Pileated Woodpecker (a difficult bird to find in this part of the state).

Bird List

• Mow = seen in Mower Co, Oct 11 (72 species)

• Free = seen in Freeborn Co, Oct 12 (81 species)

• Farib = seen in Faribault Co, Oct 13 (86 species)

• Mart = seen in Martin Co, Oct 14 (73 species)

Snow Goose          Farib          

Ross’s Goose          Mow

Greater White-fronted Goose          Farib

Cackling Goose          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Canada Goose          Mow

Wood Duck          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Blue-winged Teal          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Northern Shoveler          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Gadwall          Mow, Free, Farib

American Wigeon          Mow, Free, Farib

Mallard          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Northern Pintail          Free, Farib

Green-winged Teal          Mow, Free, Farib

Canvasback          Free, Farib

Redhead          Free, Farib

Ring-necked Duck          Free, Farib

Lesser Scaup          Free, Farib

Bufflehead          Free, Farib, Mart

Hooded Merganser          Mart

Ruddy Duck          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Ring-necked Pheasant          Free

Wild Turkey          Mow, Free, Mart

Pied-billed Grebe          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Rock Pigeon          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Eurasian Collared-Dove          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Mourning Dove          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

American Coot          Free, Farib

Sandhill Crane          Free

American Avocet          Farib

Killdeer          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Least Sandpiper          Farib, Mart

Pectoral Sandpiper          Farib

Long-billed Dowitcher          Farib

Spotted Sandpiper          Mow

Lesser Yellowlegs          Farib

Greater Yellowlegs          Farib

Franklin’s Gull          Free, Farib, Mart

Ring-billed Gull          Free, Farib, Mart

Double-crested Cormorant          Free, Farib, Mart

American White Pelican          Free, Farib, Mart

Great Blue Heron          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Great Egret          Free

Turkey Vulture          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Osprey          Farib

Northern Harrier          Free, Farib, Mart

Sharp-shinned Hawk          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Cooper’s Hawk          Mow, Free

Bald Eagle          Mow, Free, Farib

Red-tailed Hawk          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Great Horned Owl          Farib       

Belted Kingfisher          Free, Mart

Red-bellied Woodpecker          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker          Mow, Mart

Downy Woodpecker          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Hairy Woodpecker          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Northern Flicker          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Pileated Woodpecker          Mart

American Kestrel          Free, Farib, Mart

Merlin          Free, Farib, Mart

Eastern Phoebe          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Blue-headed Vireo          Mow, Farib

Blue Jay          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

American Crow          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Horned Lark          Mow, Free, Farib

Tree Swallow          Mow, Free

Barn Swallow          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Black-capped Chickadee          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Red-breasted Nuthatch          Mart

White-breasted Nuthatch          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Brown Creeper          Mow, Farib, Mart

House Wren          Farib

Winter Wren          Mow

Golden-crowned Kinglet          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Ruby-crowned Kinglet          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Eastern Bluebird          Mow, Free

Hermit Thrush          Mow, Mart

American Robin          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Gray Catbird          Farib

European Starling          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Cedar Waxwing          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

House Sparrow          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

American Pipit          Farib

House Finch          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Pine Siskin          Farib, Mart

American Goldfinch          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Lapland Longspur          Free

Chipping Sparrow          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Clay-colored Sparrow          Mow

Field Sparrow          Free, Farib, Mart

Fox Sparrow          Farib, Mart

American Tree Sparrow          Mart

Dark-eyed Junco          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

White-crowned Sparrow          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Harris’s Sparrow          Mow, Farib, Mart

White-throated Sparrow          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Vesper Sparrow          Mow, Free, Mart

Savannah Sparrow          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Song Sparrow          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Lincoln’s Sparrow          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Swamp Sparrow          Mow, Free

towhee, sp.          Free

meadowlark, sp.          Mow, Farib

Red-winged Blackbird          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Brown-headed Cowbird          Free, Farib, Mart

Brewer’s Blackbird          Farib

Common Grackle          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Tennessee Warbler          Mow, Free

Orange-crowned Warbler          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Nashville Warbler          Mow, Free, Mart

Magnolia Warbler          Mart

Chestnut-sided Warbler          Mow

Palm Warbler          Mow, Free, Mart

Yellow-rumped Warbler          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Black-throated Green Warbler          Mow, Mart

Northern Cardinal          Mow, Free, Farib, Mart

Note that these one-day MBWs in the same counties

took place in fall rather than in spring; accordingly,

the 2023 MBWs are expected to record more species