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

The summary of the fall 2019 MBW in these same counties

follows the spring 2023 summary.


Martin-Faribault-Freeborn-Mower MBWeekend

April 27-28-29-30, 2023

Summary by Craig Mandel (plus edits by KRE)


This four-county, four-day MBW offered us some of the best birding and some of the worst weather. Strong SW winds on Thursday in Martin followed by rain on Friday in Faribault brought in and grounded lots of migrants, including some unusual species. It was too windy again on Sunday, the winds colder this time and out of the north, but the overall species total after four days came out to a respectable 122.  


Martin County

On our first day of birding we were able to cover most of the eastern portion of Martin, but the strong winds made searching for waterbirds difficult at times, and our 81 species for the day was disappointing. There were very few migrants, with only two warbler species: a couple of Orange-crowneds and a few Yellow-rumpeds.  Sparrow numbers were also low, with only five species observed. With little to no shorebird habitat, it was no surprise that we could only find some yellowlegs, a few snipe, and a couple of Least Sandpipers.


Faribault County

We were able to turn up some interesting species in the rain today, with some late Snow and Greater White-fronted geese and a nice mix of shorebirds – i.e., 14 species, including Hudsonian Godwit, White-rumped Sandpiper, and a few dozen Willets. Other birds of special note were the Cattle Egret along a freeway exit ramp and a small, distant flock of Smith’s Longspurs – both of these spotted by Kathrynne! This county clearly produced more birds than the other three, and our group total of 101 species actually tied the April Big Day record for this county. Certainly, this was partly due to the assistance of Wayne Feder, this county’s resident birding expert, who was able to join us.  


Freeborn County

Our 80 species observed in this county was about as expected, considering that we spent almost no time in the woods, and that we took the time to drive up to the Twin Cities to see a first-state-record Swainson’s Warbler found that morning! This was a sought-after life bird for some MBWers, as well as species #370 for the all-time MBWeekends list. (Otherwise, the day’s highlights included the only Red-breasted Merganser, Horned Grebe, and Eastern Towhee during these four days.)


Mower County

With another half a day of birding in Mower county, we again had a few fun species, including Greater White-fronted Geese, Virginia Rails & Soras, and Brewers Blackbirds – all found during 20+ mph NW winds (and gusts to 40 mph). After our half day in the county, we headed up to Rice County for another unusual stake-out – a Eurasian Wigeon. We successfully found it mixed in with a flock of Amercan Wigeons, and this represented yet another addition to the MBWeekend composite list, now standing at 371 species.


 Bird List


* Mart = Martin Co., April 27 (81 species)

* Farib = Faribault Co., April 28 (101 species)

* Free = Freeborn Co., April 29 ( 80 species)

* Mow = Mower Co., April 30 (73 species)

* species not annotated = seen in all 4 counties

Snow Goose          Farib

Greater White-fronted Goose          Mart, Farib, Mow

Canada Goose

Trumpeter Swan

Wood Duck

Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler


Eurasian Wigeon          Rice County stake-out

American Wigeon          Farib, Rice


Green-winged Teal

Canvasback          Free, Mow, Rice

Redhead          Mart, Farib

Ring-necked Duck          Mart, Farib, Free

Lesser Scaup          Mart, Farib, Free

Bufflehead          Mart, Farib, Free

Common Goldeneye          Free

Hooded Merganser          Farib, Free  

Common Merganser          Mart, Free, Mow

Red-breasted Merganser          Free

Ruddy Duck

Wild Turkey          Farib, Free, Mow

Ring-necked Pheasant

Pied-billed Grebe

Horned Grebe          Free

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

Virgina Rail


American Coot

Sandhill Crane          Farib, Mow


Semipalmated Plover          Farib

Hudsonian Godwit          Farib

Dunlin          Farib

Least Sandpiper          Mart, Farib

White-rumped Sandpiper          Farib

Pectoral Sandpiper          Farib

Semipalmated Sandpiper          Farib

Long-billed Dowitcher          Farib

Wilson’s Snipe          Mart, Farib, Mow

Spotted Sandpiper          Farib, Mow

Lesser Yellowlegs

Willet          Farib

Greater Yellowlegs

Bonaparte’s Gull          Farib, Free

Franklin’s Gull          Farib

Ring-billed Gull          Mart, Farib, Free

Forster’s Tern          Farib, Free

Common Loon          Mart, Farib, Free

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican          Mart, Farib, Free

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret          Mart, Farib, Free

Cattle Egret          Farib

Turkey Vulture

Osprey          Mart, Mow

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk          Mart, Free, Mow

Cooper’s Hawk          Mart, Free

Bald Eagle

Broad-winged Hawk          Mart, Free

Red-tailed Hawk

Barred Owl          Mart

Belted Kingfisher          Mart, Farib, Free

Red-headed Woodpecker          Mart, Farib, Mow

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker          Mart

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker          Mart, Farib

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker          Mart, Farib

American Kestrel          Mart, Free, Mow

Merlin          Mart

Eastern Phoebe

Blue Jay

American Crow

Black-capped Chickadee

Horned Lark

Tree Swallow

Purple Matin          Mart, Free

Barn Swallow

Cliff Swallow          Mart, Farib

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet          Mow

White-breasted Nuthatch

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher          Farib

House Wren          Mow

Brown Thrasher          Farib, Free, Mow

European Starling 

Eastern Bluebird          Farib

Hermit Thrush          Farib

American Robin

House Sparrow

American Pipit          Mow

House Finch

American Goldfinch          Mart, Farib

Lapland Longspur          Farib, Mow

Smith’s Longspur          Farib  

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow          Farib

White-throated Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow          Farib, Free, Mow

Savannah Sparrow          Mart, Farib, Free

Song Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow          Farib, Free, Mow

Swamp Sparrow  

Eastern Towhee          Free

Yellow-headed Blackbird  

Eastern Meadowlark          Farib, Free

Western Meadowlark          Farib

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird  

Brewer’s Blackbird          Mow

Common Grackle  

Swainson’s Warbler          Hennepin Co. stake-out

Orange-crowned Warbler          Mart, Farib, Mow

Palm Warbler          Farib, Mow

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Northern Cardinal  

*          *          *