Juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher, Warroad sewage ponds, 30 August

(Craig Mandel photo)

*          *          *


Aug 30 - Aug 31 - Sept 1 - Sept 2, 2019

Ross’s Goose, near Warroad, 30 August (Craig Mandel photo)

We’ve now had a total of 17 Labor Day MBWs up in this remote part of the state, with a long list of rarities seen over the years – these have even included such unlikely strays as Red Knot, Long-tailed Jaeger, Little Gull, Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and Prairie Falcon. While none of our best finds this year can match the calibre of any of those, we still had another successful MBW here. Our composite total of 155 species was nearly exactly at our average (= 156); note that this MBW has varied beween 138 species (our lowest in 2011) to our best-ever total of 171 (in both 2008 and 2010). And among our highlights were... [Spoiler Alert! – the following summary includes three new County Birds for my lists]

Our best waterfowl were the early Ross’s Goose at the Warroad sewage ponds (also photographed by Craig just outside of Warroad early that evening), an equally early Cackling Goose noticed by some as it flew over the Super 8 parking lot (along with 2,000+ Franklin’s Gulls), and the Trump(eter) Swans (a.k.a. Donald Ducks?) at Brown’s Lake – new for my Lake of the Woods list. Unfortunately, the Gray Partridges that I lucked into on Roseau CR 9 weren’t there the next day, but a lone Sharp-tailed Grouse did run across the road in front of my group en route to Roseau River WMA. One lowlight was our total of only 13 shorebirds, which ties our lowest number ever (in 2006) and is far below our best shorebird list in 2008 when we had no fewer than 25 species. This year the Warroad sewage ponds was our only decent shorebirding spot and included a juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher and Red-necked Phalarope (Red-neckeds were also at Badger’s sewage ponds).     

After an absence of four years (when too many soybeans were planted), Short-eared Owls once again appeared at dusk NE of Roseau along 350th Street – just like they used to as hayfields and grasslands returned to the landscape. Nearby in Roseau itself earlier that day were an unexpected Red-bellied Woodpecker and Gray-checked Thrush (both new for my Roseau list), at the sewage ponds a cooperative flock of late Bobolinks came down and landed for all to see in the scopes, and a concentration of at least 50 Black-billed Magpies was found in a single field SW of town. Meanwhile, Lake of the Woods County provided us with Western Kingbirds, an Alder Flycatcher was strangely still singing vigorously away (if you could hear it, that is), and Red Crossbills happened by at three places near Norris Camp – as suspected, Matt Young at Cornell confirmed their identity as Type 2.

Besides shorebirds, sparrows were another disappointment since we could only turn up seven species  (which has to be our lowest total ever on this MBW), and unfortunately the only LeConte’s was only seen by Craig and a few others early Friday evening just SW of Warroad. But one consolation was our composite list of 20 warbler species, which actually ties the most we’ve ever had on this MBW (we’ve done this about four other times). Although we found warblers at lots of places, we never came across any real concentrations or waves anywhere.  

On behalf of everyone, I especially thank Craig for his contributions as co-leader (he again was underpaid, of course, but at least I never had cause to fire him); Gretchen Mehmel for serving as our hostess at Norris Camp (with indoor plumbing!) and taking time to guide us to a couple of nearby birding sites; and 9-year old Cooper who justly earned the coveted JTLMB for coming on his first MBW as the youngest MBWer ever in our 34-year history. –Kim Eckert


Bird List

R = seen in Roseau County

L = seen in Lake of the Woods County

Ross’s Goose        R

Cackling Goose        R

Canada Goose        RL

Trumpeter Swan        RL

Wood Duck        R

Blue-winged Teal        R

Northern Shoveler        R

Gadwall        R

American Wigeon        R

Mallard        R

Northern Pintail        R

Green-winged Teal        R

Canvasback        R

Redhead        R

Ring-necked Duck        RL

Common Goldeneye        R

Hooded Merganser        RL

Ruddy Duck        R

Gray Partridge        R (leader-only)

Ruffed Grouse        R (heard-only)

Sharp-tailed Grouse        R

Pied-billed Grebe        RL

Horned Grebe        R

Red-necked Grebe        RL

Rock Pigeon        RL

Mourning Dove        RL

Common Nighthawk        RL

Ruby-throated Hummingbird        RL

Virginia Rail        R

Sora        R

American Coot        R

Sandhill Crane        RL

Killdeer        R

Semipalmated Plover        R

Stilt Sandpiper        R

Least Sandpiper        RL

Pectoral Sandpiper        R

Semipalmated Sandpiper        R

Long-billed Dowitcher        R

Wilson’s Snipe        R

Spotted Sandpiper        RL

Solitary Sandpiper        R

Lesser Yellowlegs        RL

Greater Yellowlegs        R

Red-necked Phalarope        R

Bonaparte’s Gull        RL

Franklin’s Gull        RL

Ring-billed Gull        RL

Herring Gull        RL

Caspian Tern        R

Black Tern        R

Common Tern        L

Forster’s Tern        R

Double-crested Cormorant        RL

American White Pelican        RL

Great Blue Heron        R

Green Heron        R

Turkey Vulture        RL

Northern Harrier        RL

Sharp-shinned Hawk        RL

Cooper’s Hawk        R

Bald Eagle        RL

Broad-winged Hawk        RL

Red-tailed Hawk        RL

Great Horned Owl        R (heard-only)

Short-eared Owl        R

Belted Kingfisher        RL

Red-headed Woodpecker        R

Red-bellied Woodpecker        R

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker        RL

Downy Woodpecker        RL

Hairy Woodpecker        RL

Northern Flicker        RL

Pileated Woodpecker        L (heard-only)

American Kestrel        RL

Merlin        RL

Peregrine Falcon        R

Great Crested Flycatcher        RL

Western Kingbird        L

Eastern Kingbird        RL

Olive-sided Flycatcher        RL

Eastern Wood-Pewee        R

Alder Flycatcher        L

Least Flycatcher        R

Eastern Phoebe        RL

Yellow-throated Vireo        L

Blue-headed Vireo        L

Philadelphia Vireo        RL

Warbling Vireo        RL

Red-eyed Vireo        RL

Canada Jay        RL

Blue Jay        RL

Black-billed Magpie        RL

American Crow        RL

Common Raven        RL

Bank Swallow        R

Tree Swallow        R

Purple Martin        R

Barn Swallow        RL

Cliff Swallow        RL

Black-capped Chickadee        RL

Red-breasted Nuthatch        RL

White-breasted Nuthatch        RL

Brown Creeper        L (heard-only)

House Wren        RL

Sedge Wren        R

Marsh Wren        R

Ruby-crowned Kinglet        R

Eastern Bluebird        R

Gray-cheeked Thrush        R

Swainson’s Thrush        RL

Hermit Thrush        R

American Robin        RL

Gray Catbird        RL

European Starling        RL

Cedar Waxwing        RL

House Sparrow        RL

House Finch        R

Purple Finch        RL

Red Crossbill        L

Pine Siskin        RL

American Goldfinch        RL

Chipping Sparrow        RL

Clay-colored Sparrow        R

White-throated Sparrow        RL

LeConte’s Sparrow        R

Savannah Sparrow        RL

Song Sparrow        RL

Swamp Sparrow        RL

Bobolink        R

Baltimore Oriole        R

Red-winged Blackbird        RL

Common Grackle        RL

Ovenbird        R

Northern Waterthrush        RL

Golden-winged Warbler        RL

Black-and-white Warbler        RL

Tennessee Warbler        RL

Nashville Warbler        RL

Common Yellowthroat        RL

American Redstart        RL

Cape May Warbler        R

Northern Parula        R

Magnolia Warbler        RL

Bay-breasted Warbler        R

Blackburnian Warbler        R

Yellow Warbler        RL

Chestnut-sided Warbler        RL

Blackpoll Warbler        RL

Yellow-rumped Warbler        RL

Black-throated Green Warbler        L

Canada Warbler        R

Wilson’s Warbler        RL

Scarlet Tanager        L

Rose-breasted Grosbeak        RL

Thanks to Wayne Johnson of Thief River Falls public works

for his continuing hospitality in permitting access to birders.

(Sherry Gray photo)

We sort of suspected our 19th Labor Day Weekend MBW in northwestern Minnesota would be challenge. Drought conditions were perhaps worse in this part of the state than any other, and the recent bird reports there were few in number and not very encouraging. And it didn’t help that it was on the windy side much of the time, especially Monday when the winds were up to 25 mph. As a result, we managed to come up with a modest total of 147 species in all, including the 8 found only on Friday’s pre-MBW in Polk Co (which also ventured a bit into Marshall). As expected, this was below the average of 155 species for this MBW, which has ranged between a high of 171 and a low of 138.

Probably the main reason this MBW’s total was on the low side was the relative lack of water birds due to many dried-up wetlands areas. This was most noticeable in the lack of shorebirds, as we could only find 13 species, just one more than our lowest-ever total of 12 (our best-ever total was 25 shorebirds). But at least our composite total of 19 warbler species was about as good as we ever do, since 20 is the most we’ve ever come up with (and we’ve done that several times). One interesting aspect of this was the general lack of warblers in the wooded areas Craig et al. tried in Polk Co on Friday, while they found the most in the sunflower fields they stopped at – including a Northern Waterthrush and Wilson’s Warbler perched on power lines over these fields.

Among our highlights over the four days were Sharp-taiied Grouse walking across a back road in front of half the group, Wild (and not-so-wild) Turkeys for the benefit of Marshall County listers, and Eurasian Collared-Doves in a Thief River Falls neighborhood. Our better shorebirds were a Stilt Sandpiper (seen by Brad), Sanderling at the TRF sewage ponds, and Red-necked Phalaropes there and at Karlstad’s sewage ponds. A Caspian Tern at TRF’s ponds was unexpected, distant Great Egrets were at Agassiz NWR, Merlins were migrating everywhere, a LeConte’s Sparrow near East Park WMA was a good find by half the group, and the best warbler was a Connecticut at Old Mill State Park (but seen only by Craig and Jerry).

Bird List

pre = Polk County pre-MBW (Sept 3)

P = Pennington County (Sept 4, 5, 6)

M = Marshall County  (Sept 3, 4, 5)

K = Kittson County (Sept 5)

Canada Goose          pre P M K  

Trumpeter Swan          pre M K

Wood Duck          P K

Blue-winged Teal          pre P M K

Northern Shoveler          pre P M

Gadwall          pre M

American Wigeon          P M

Mallard          pre P M K

American Black Duck          M

Northern Pintail          M

Green-winged Teal          P M K

Canvasback          P M

Redhead          P M

Ring-necked Duck          pre P M K

Common Goldeneye          pre P M

Hooded Merganser          pre P M

Ruddy Duck          P M

Ring-necked Pheasant          pre

Ruffed Grouse          K

Sharp-tailed Grouse          K

Wild Turkey          M

Pied-billed Grebe          pre P M K

Horned Grebe          P M

Red-necked Grebe          pre  P M

Eared Grebe          P M

Rock Pigeon          pre P M K

Eurasian Collared-Dove          P

Mourning Dove          pre P M K

Common Nighthawk          pre  P M

Ruby-throated Hummingbird          pre P M K

Virginia Rail          K

American Coot          pre P M K

Sandhill Crane          pre P M K

Killdeer          pre P M K

Semipalmated Plover          K

Stilt Sandpiper          pre

Sanderling          P

Baird’s Sandpiper          P M

Least Sandpiper          pre P M

Pectoral Sandpiper          P

Wilson’s Snipe          pre

Spotted Sandpiper          pre P M

Solitary Sandpiper          P K

Lesser Yellowlegs          pre P M K

Greater Yellowlegs          pre P M K

Red-necked Phalarope          P K

Franklin’s Gull          pre P M

Ring-billed Gull          pre P M

Caspian Tern          P

Black Tern          P M

Double-crested Cormorant          pre P M K

American White Pelican          pre M K

Great Blue Heron          P M

Great Egret          M

Green Heron          M K

Turkey Vulture          pre P M K

Northern Harrier          pre P M

Sharp-shinned Hawk          P M K

Cooper’s Hawk          pre P K

Bald Eagle          pre P M K

Broad-winged Hawk          P M K

Red-tailed Hawk          pre P M K

Great Horned Owl          M

Belted Kingfisher          P M K

Red-headed Woodpecker          pre

Red-bellied Woodpecker          P

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker          pre P M K

Downy Woodpecker          pre P M K

Hairy Woodpecker          pre P M K

Northern Flicker          pre P M K

Pileated Woodpecker          P M K

American Kestrel          pre P M K

Merlin          pre P M

Peregrine Falcon          pre

Great Crested Flycatcher          pre

Eastern Kingbird          pre M

Olive-sided Flycatcher          pre K

Eastern Wood-Pewee          pre P M K

Alder Flycatcher          P

Least Flycatcher          pre K

Eastern Phoebe          pre M K

Yellow-throated Vireo          P M K

Blue-headed Vireo          pre P K

Philadelphia Vireo          pre P M K

Warbling Vireo          pre

Red-eyed Vireo          pre P M K

Blue Jay          pre P M K

Black-billed Magpie          M K

American Crow          pre P M K

Common Raven          pre P M K

Horned Lark          P

Tree Swallow          pre P M

Barn Swallow          pre P M K

Black-capped Chickadee          pre P M K

Red-breasted Nuthatch          P M K

White-breasted Nuthatch          pre P M K

House Wren          pre P

Sedge Wren          pre M K

Marsh Wren          pre P K

Ruby-crowned Kinglet          P K

Eastern Bluebird          P K

Swainson’s Thrush          pre P M

American Robin          pre P M K

Gray Catbird          pre P K

Brown Thrasher          pre

European Starling          pre P M K

Cedar Waxwing          pre P M K

House Sparrow          P K

Purple Finch          P K

Pine Siskin          P

American Goldfinch          pre P M K

Chipping Sparrow          P M K

Clay-colored Sparrow          pre P M K

White-throated Sparrow          P K

Vesper Sparrow          pre P K

Leconte’s Sparrow          M

Savannah Sparrow          pre P M K

Song Sparrow          pre M

Lincoln’s Sparrow          pre M K

Swamp Sparrow          pre P M

Yellow-headed Blackbird          P

Bobolink          pre P M

Western Meadowlark          pre M

Baltimore Oriole          pre P

Red-winged Blackbird          pre M

Brewer’s Blackbird          pre K

Common Grackle          pre M

Ovenbird          P

Northern Waterthrush          pre P M

Black-and-white Warbler          pre P M K

Tennessee Warbler          pre P M K

Orange-crowned Warbler          P

Nashville Warbler          pre P M K

Connecticut Warbler          M

Common Yellowthroat          pre P M K

American Redstart          pre P M K

Cape May Warbler          M K

Magnolia Warbler          pre K

Bay-breasted Warbler          K

Blackburnian Warbler          P

Yellow Warbler          pre P M K

Chestnut-sided Warbler          pre P M K

Blackpoll Warbler          M K

Palm Warbler          pre M K

Yellow-rumped Warbler          P M K

Wilson’s Warbler          pre P

Rose-breasted Grosbeak          pre P M


*          *          *

Northwestern Minn. MBW / Polk pre-MBW Summary

September 3 - 4 - 5 - 6, 2021

(Rose Shea photo)

Solitary Sandpiper – one of only 13 species on this MBW

(Jeff Stephenson photo)

One of many migrating Merlins

(Jeff Stephenson photo)

(Jerry Pruett photo)

(Rose Shea photo)

Bay-breasted Warbler – not a Blackpoll for a change

(Jerry Pruett photo)

Polk County warbler habitat

(Jerry Pruett photo)

Note that these MBWs included other counties which

are near Kittson and recorded species possible on the 2023 MBW



September 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5, 2022

This was our 20th consecutive MBW on Labor Day weekend to relatively remote northwestern Minnesota, and, as always, we came up with an interesting assortment of birds. The weather mostly cooperated, with light to moderate winds on all five days, and there was no rain to slow us down. It may have been too warm in the 80s on Thursday afternoon, but temperatures moderated nicely the rest of the weekend, although it was somewhat disappointing that Friday’s cold front failed to produce much migration – so maybe some rain showers might have grounded some migrants and would have been welcome.  

Our composite species total of 163 was only 8 shy of this MBW’s all-time record of 171, but this was primarily the result of having an extra day of birding this year. This MBW is normally 3 or 4 days long, not 5, and the average species total is 155 – so remove the extra day, and we would probably have been in the 150s.

Our target every year is to find both 20 shorebirds and 20 warblers, but we have never quite managed to do both on this MBW. We came up with 19 warbler species this time, which is probably close to average (an even 20 is the most we’ve had, and we’ve done that several times). We found no real significant waves of warblers and other migrants this year, save for the few miles worth of non-stop passerine activity along Pitt Grade Forest Road on Thursday morning. Indeed, our usually dependable sites for migrants at Zippel Bay State Park, Warroad, Springsteel Island, and Roseau City Park were mostly disappointing.

Meanwhile, our total of 17 shorebirds was quite respectable, given that none of the sewage ponds we checked in these counties or the drawn-down pools at Agassiz held more than a few species. But we chanced upon the pair of flooded fields at South Shore WMA on Friday afternoon, plus the mudflats in fields along MN Hwy 310 on Saturday and on 360th Ave the next day. These combined to give us a total of 12 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, both American Golden- and Black-bellied plovers, as well as Stilt, Baird’s, Solitary, and other sandpipers.          

Some of our other highlights included unseasonal Snow and Cackling geese, a Eurasian Collared-Dove in Roseau (a rarity in northwest MN), lots of Sandhill Cranes, Great Egrets at Roseau River WMA (also rare this far north), an unexpected Black-backed Woodpecker along MN 310, a Peregrine Falcon at Agassiz, and two concentrations of Black-billed Magpies: about 40 or so just east of Roseau River WMA, and at least 30 going to roost near the Roseau sewage ponds.    

Bird List

• L = Lake of the Woods County, Sept 1-2 (121 species)

• R = Roseau County, Sept 3-4 (126 species)

• Mon = Monday only (mostly at Agassiz NWR, Marshall Co.)

Snow Goose          R

Cackling Goose          R

Canada Goose          LR

Trumpeter Swan          LR

Wood Duck          LR

Blue-winged Teal          LR

Northern Shoveler          LR

Gadwall          LR

American Wigeon          LR

Mallard          LR

American Black Duck          R

Northern Pintail          LR

Green-winged Teal          LR

Canvasback          R

Redhead          LR

Ring-necked Duck          LR

Lesser Scaup          R

Bufflehead          LR

Common Goldeneye          LR

Hooded Merganser          LR

Ruddy Duck          R

Wild Turkey          Mon

Ruffed Grouse          L

Gray Partridge          R

Pied-billed Grebe          LR

Horned Grebe          R

Red-necked Grebe          LR

Eared Grebe          R

Western Grebe          Mon

Rock Pigeon          LR

Eurasian Collared-Dove          R

Mourning Dove          LR

Black-billed Cuckoo          Mon

Ruby-throated Hummingbird          LR

Virginia Rail          R

Sora          R

American Coot          LR

Sandhill Crane          LR

Black-bellied Plover          R

American Golden-Plover          LR

Killdeer          LR

Semipalmated Plover          LR

Stilt Sandpiper          LR

Baird’s Sandpiper          L

Least Sandpiper          LR

Buff-breasted Sandpiper          LR

Pectoral Sandpiper          LR

Short-billed Dowitcher          L

American Woodcock          R

Wilson’s Snipe          R

Spotted Sandpiper          LR

Solitary Sandpiper          LR

Lesser Yellowlegs          LR

Greater Yellowlegs          LR

Red-necked Phalarope          R

Bonaparte’s Gull          LR

Franklin’s Gull          LR

Ring-billed Gull          LR

Herring Gull          LR

Caspian Tern          L

Forster’s Tern          LR

Common Loon          L

Double-crested Cormorant          LR

American White Pelican          LR

American Bittern          R

Great Blue Heron          LR

Great Egret          R

Green Heron          LR

Turkey Vulture          LR

Northern Harrier          LR

Sharp-shinned Hawk          LR

Cooper’s Hawk          LR

Bald Eagle          LR

Broad-winged Hawk          L

Red-tailed Hawk          LR

Great Horned Owl          R

Belted Kingfisher          LR

Red-headed Woodpecker          R

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker          LR

Black-backed Woodpecker          R

Downy Woodpecker          LR

Hairy Woodpecker          LR

Northern Flicker          LR

Pileated Woodpecker          LR

American Kestrel          LR

Merlin          LR

Peregrine Falcon          Mon

Eastern Kingbird          LR

Olive-sided Flycatcher          L

Eastern Wood-Pewee          LR                                            

Least Flycatcher          LR

Eastern Phoebe          LR

Yellow-throated Vireo          Mon

Blue-headed Vireo          L

Philadelphia Vireo          LR

Warbling Vireo          LR

Red-eyed Vireo          LR

Blue Jay          LR

Black-billed Magpie          LR

American Crow          LR

Common Raven          LR

Black-capped Chickadee          LR

Bank Swallow          L

Tree Swallow          LR

Purple Martin          L

Barn Swallow          LR

Cliff Swallow          LR

Ruby-crowned Kinglet          LR

Golden-crowned Kinglet          LR

Cedar Waxwing          LR

Red-breasted Nuthatch          LR

White-breasted Nuthatch          LR

Brown Creeper          LR

House Wren          LR

Sedge Wren          LR

Marsh Wren          LR

Gray Catbird          LR

Brown Thrasher          Mon

European Starling          LR

Veery          L

Swainson’s Thrush          L

American Robin          LR

House Sparrow          LR                                   

Purple Finch          LR

Pine Siskin          LR

American Goldfinch          LR

Chipping Sparrow          LR

Clay-colored Sparrow          L

White-throated Sparrow          LR

Vesper Sparrow          LR

Savannah Sparrow          LR

Song Sparrow          LR

Lincoln’s Sparrow          LR

Swamp Sparrow          LR

Yellow-headed Blackbird          L

Bobolink          LR

Western Meadowlark          R

Baltimore Oriole          L

Red-winged Blackbird          LR

Brown-headed Cowbird          L

Brewer’s Blackbird          Mon

Common Grackle          LR

Ovenbird          LR

Northern Waterthrush          LR

Golden-winged Warbler          L

Black-and-white Warbler          LR

Tennessee Warbler          LR

Nashville Warbler          LR

Common Yellowthroat          LR

American Redstart          LR

Cape May Warbler          R

Magnolia Warbler          LR

Bay-breasted Warbler          LR

Blackburnian Warbler          L

Yellow Warbler          LR

Chestnut-sided Warbler          LR

Blackpoll Warbler          R

Palm Warbler          LR

Yellow-rumped Warbler          LR

Black-throated Green Warbler          R

Wilson’s Warbler          L

Scarlet Tanager          L

Rose-breasted Grosbeak          LR