*          *          *


Without question, that cooperative male Smith's Longspur posing nicely for all to see along Wilkin CR 15 on Saturday afternoon had to be the single best bird of this MBW, but it's equally obvious that this weekend's list of highlights included much more than that! For one thing, consider the overwhelming and countless number of northbound swans, geese, and other waterfowl that filled the skies on Saturday morning as we birded our way around NE Wilkin County. 

And, as impressive as those flocks were, it was interesting that hardly any were on the move on Saturday afternoon or on Sunday. It seemed the migrant raptors took over then, as we found no fewer 13 species during the weekend, including at least 4 Peregrines. Of note as well were our 11 shorebird species, highlighted by the Willet, Solitary, Baird's, and Least sandpipers along CR 112 en route to Otter Tail Prairie.

It was also memorable that so many Greater Scaup were present, since this species is generally rare or absent in the shallow wetlands of the prairie pothole region. Another curiosity was the number of Horned Grebes passing through, especially considering that we found no Eared Grebes, Similarly, why did we find more Bonaparte's Gulls than Franklin's? Those 3 Gray Partridges along the road just west of Rothsay was another surprise – I'll have to look up when's the last time we recorded this elusive species on a MBW, since it's longer than I can remember. 

We recorded two more highlights after most of you had departed for home on Sunday. On the way up to Becker County to look for ibis, there were 2 Cattle Egrets quite unexpectedly standing around by the grain elevators in Wendell, and four of us finally found the species which had eluded us all weekend – those 2 stake-out White-faced Ibis north of Detroit Lakes were still waiting for us as we arrived. So we finished up the MBW with 123 species, a pretty impressive total considering that the spring migration for passerines has been delayed and we recorded relatively few woods birds on our list.

I thank Charles Smith for being able to join us, making a special trip all the way from Toronto via Saskatchewan just to attend his first MBW! And I thank all of you for coming along as well on our first complete MBWeekend of the 2013 season, after the March MBW in SW Minnesota was semi-cancelled by – you guessed it! – the weather. (I especially appreciate your pretending that I was able to hear booming prairie-chickens and a rattling longspur better than the rest of you, despite my aging ears and other deteriorating body parts!) 


W = seen in Wilkin County (all seen April 27)

O = seen in Otter Tail County (mostly seen April 28)

Greater White-fronted Goose     W (by the 1000s; also seen in Grant Co)

Snow Goose     W (ditto)

Ross's Goose     W (several, probably 100+ mixed in with the Snows; also in Grant)

Cackling Goose     W (why so few?)

Canada Goose     WO

Tundra Swan     WO (maybe 10,000-plus!?)

Wood Duck     WO

Gadwall     WO

American Wigeon     WO

Mallard     WO

Blue-winged Teal     WO

Northern Shoveler     WO

Northern Pintail     WO

Green-winged Teal     WO

Canvasback     WO

Redhead     WO

Ring-necked Duck     WO

Greater Scaup     WO (many more than usual)

Lesser Scaup     WO

Bufflehead     WO

Common Goldeneye     WO

Hooded Merganser     WO

Common Merganser     O

Red-breasted Merganser     O

Ruddy Duck     WO

Gray Partridge     W (a nice, overdue surprise near Rothsay)

Ring-necked Pheasant     WO

Greater Prairie-Chicken     WO (displaying males heard more than seen)

Wild Turkey     WO

Common Loon     (only seen in Grant Co)

Pied-billed Grebe     WO

Horned Grebe     WO (but no Eareds)

Red-necked Grebe     WO (also in Grant Co)

Western Grebe     O (ditto)

Double-crested Cormorant     WO

American White Pelican     WO

American Bittern     (with the ibis in Becker Co)

Great Blue Heron     WO

Great Egret     O

Cattle Egret     (2 by the Wendall, Grant Co grain elevators en route to Becker Co)

White-faced Ibis     (a few of us saw the 2 Becker Co stake-outs)

Turkey Vulture     WO

Osprey     WO

Bald Eagle     WO

Northern Harrier     WO

Sharp-shinned Hawk     WO

Cooper's Hawk     O

Broad-winged Hawk     W

Swainson's Hawk     WO

Red-tailed Hawk     WO

Rough-legged Hawk     WO (several)

American Kestrel     WO

Merlin     WO

Peregrine Falcon     WO (at least 4, incl 1 in Grant Co)

American Coot     WO

Sandhill Crane     W

Killdeer     WO

Spotted Sandpiper     O

Solitary Sandpiper     O

Greater Yellowlegs     WO

Willet     O (the highlight along CR 112)

Lesser Yellowlegs     WO

Marbled Godwit     WO

Least Sandpiper     O

Baird's Sandpiper     WO

Pectoral Sandpiper     W

Wilson's Snipe     WO

Bonaparte's Gull     WO they outnumbered Franklin's)

Franklin's Gull     WO

Ring-billed Gull     WO

Herring Gull     O (1 immature)

Forster's Tern     O

Rock Pigeon     WO

Eurasian Collared-Dove     W (Rothsay; also in Wendell, Grant Co)

Mourning Dove     WO

Great Horned Owl     O

Belted Kingfisher     O

Downy Woodpecker     WO

Hairy Woodpecker     O

Northern Flicker     WO

Pileated Woodpecker     O

Eastern Phoebe     WO

Blue Jay     W

American Crow     WO

Horned Lark     WO

Purple Martin     O

Tree Swallow     WO

Northern Rough-winged Swallow     O

Cliff Swallow     O

Barn Swallow     WO

Black-capped Chickadee     O

Ruby-crowned Kinglet     O

Eastern Bluebird     O

Hermit Thrush     O

American Robin     WO

Brown Thrasher     O

European Starling     WO

American Pipit     W (grazing a burned field near the Smith's site)

Lapland Longspur     W (overhead migrants)

Smith's Longspur     W (amazingly cooperative and visible)

Orange-crowned Warbler     O

Yellow-rumped Warbler     O (only 5-6 of them)

American Tree Sparrow     WO

Chipping Sparrow     WO

Field Sparrow     O

Vesper Sparrow     WO

Savannah Sparrow     WO    

Fox Sparrow     W

Song Sparrow     WO

Swamp Sparrow     W

White-throated Sparrow     O

Dark-eyed Junco     WO (why so few juncos and other sparrows?)

Red-winged Blackbird     WO

Western Meadowlark     WO

Yellow-headed Blackbird     WO

Rusty Blackbird     W

Brewer's Blackbird     WO

Common Grackle     WO

Brown-headed Cowbird     WO

Purple Finch     O

House Finch     WO

Common Redpoll     W (still migrating through the prairie)

House Sparrow     WO

*          *          *


April 21 - 22 - 23, 2017

Summary by Craig Mandel (with minor edits by KRE)

The North Ottawa Impoundment in Grant County proved to be the most productive location on the trip, with a large variety of waterfowl and shorebirds there to study. In addition, the Greater Prairie-Chickens were much easier to hear and see there than at Rothsay WMA. The Western Grebes we relocated on there on Sunday were also fun to see, as were the Sanderling and Willet found that day. American Golden Plovers were also observed in a number of locations.  

In Otter Tail County, we made an evening visit to Adams Park each evening to observe the Great Egret rookery on Grotto Lake and the Black-crowned Night-Herons that were nesting in the spruce trees [AKA pine trees? -KRE] over the picnic shelter. We also were able to see a Great Horned Owl in a nearby woods. 

My thanks to all who came on this MBW, especially those who drove during the weekend, and to Nancy for her tips on the herons and owl in Fergus Falls.  -Craig


Composite Bird List (105 species) 

G = Grant County (April  21, 23)

T = Traverse County (April 21)

O = Otter Tail County (April 21, 22, 23)

W = Wilkin County (April 22)

Canada Goose      GTOW

Trumpeter Swan      GW

Wood Duck      GTOW

Gadwall      GW

American Wigeon      GW

Mallard      GTOW

Blue-winged Teal      GTOW

Northern Shoveler      GTOW

Northern Pintail      GW

Green-winged Teal      GTOW

Canvasback      GOW

Redhead      GOW

Ring-necked Duck      GOW

Greater Scaup      G

Lesser Scaup      GW

Bufflehead      GOW

Hooded Merganser      GO

Common Merganser      G

Ruddy Duck      GW

Ring-necked Pheasant      GOW

Greater Prairie-Chicken      GW

Wild Turkey      W

Pied-billed Grebe      GW

Horned Grebe      GW

Western Grebe      G

Rock Pigeon      GOW

Eurasian Collared-Dove      GW

Mourning Dove      GOW

Sora      W

American Coot      GOW

Sandhill Crane      W

American Golden-Plover      GTW

Killdeer      GTOW

Marbled Godwit      GW

Sanderling      G

Least Sandpiper      G

Pectoral Sandpiper      GW

Long-billed Dowitcher      G

Wilson's Snipe      GW

Greater Yellowlegs      GW

Willet      G

Lesser Yellowlegs      GW

Bonaparte's Gull      GW

Franklin's Gull      GW

Ring-billed Gull      GTOW

Herring Gull      GT

Common Loon      G

Double-crested Cormorant      GTOW

American White Pelican      GOW

American Bittern      GW

Great Blue Heron      GO

Great Egret      GOW

Black-crowned Night-Heron      O

Turkey Vulture      GO

Osprey      O

Bald Eagle      GOW

Northern Harrier      GOW

Sharp-shinned Hawk      GW

Cooper's Hawk      W

Broad-winged Hawk      W

Red-tailed Hawk      GOW

Great Horned Owl      GO

Belted Kingfisher      GO

Red-bellied Woodpecker      GW

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker      W

Downy Woodpecker      GOW

Hairy Woodpecker      G

Northern Flicker      GOW

Pileated Woodpecker      G

American Kestrel      GW

Eastern Phoebe      GOW

Blue Jay      GW

American Crow      GOW

Horned Lark      GW

Tree Swallow      GOW

Northern Rough-winged Swallow      G

Barn Swallow      GTW

Black-capped Chickadee      GW

White-breasted Nuthatch      OW

Brown Creeper      W

House Wren      G

Ruby-crowned Kinglet      GOW

Eastern Bluebird      GOW

Hermit Thrush      GO

American Robin      GTOW

Brown Thrasher      GW

European Starling      GW

House Sparrow      GOW

House Finch      GOW

Purple Finch      O

Orange-crowned Warbler      GW

Yellow-rumped Warbler      GOW

Chipping Sparrow      GOW

Clay-colored Sparrow      G

Vesper Sparrow      GTW

Savannah Sparrow      GW

Song Sparrow      GOW

Swamp Sparrow      GW

White-throated Sparrow      GOW

Dark-eyed Junco      GOW

Red-winged Blackbird      GTOW

Western Meadowlark      GTW

Yellow-headed Blackbird      GTOW

Common Grackle      GOW

Brown-headed Cowbird      GTOW

Also see the 2017 and 2013 MBW summaries

following the summary of the 2019 MBWeekend


Grant Co - Rothsay WMA Summary

April 19-20-21, 2019

Given that this MBWeekend was in western Minnesota in April, when windy days are typical, cold temperatures often persist, snowstorms are not unusual...well, we shouldn’t complain too much about the weather. True, those high winds really impacted our birding efforts on Saturday morning and Sunday, but it was basically pleasant all day on Friday, Saturday afternoon (in the low 70s), and Saturday evening, rainfall was almost non-existent, and we were never snowed on.

In all, then, we compiled a respectable list of 113 species during our 2 1/2 days. Our highlights on Friday’s pre-MBW, which was mostly in Grant County (plus some in Otter Tail Co and a bit on the Traverse Co side of North Ottawa impoundment), included a lingering group of Tundra Swans, Horned Grebes at two spots, a few fly-by Sandhill Cranes (we eventually saw cranes in all three counties), a couple of early Forster’s Terns, a late Rough-legged Hawk, plus a wide variety of ducks (18 species) in the numerous flooded fields and other wetlands we encountered.

Saturday’s highlights (mostly in Wilkin Coounty) featured territorial Marbled Godwits and distant prairie-chickens at Rothsay WMA (our views of another lek in the evening were somewhat better), an American Bittern en route to Breckenridge, at least 4 Swainson’s Hawks, a modest but surprising kettle of buteos (including Broad-wingeds and a Swainson’s) riding a thermal over Breckenridge, and a nice total of 10 shorebird species – with most of these at the Breckenridge sewage ponds, including 2 unexpected Dunlins.

And on Sunday morning, all in Otter Tail County, we began with a copulating pair of pale richardsoni Merlins in Ferg (the males of this race are a soft powder blue), a nice variety of passerines (including a singling Winter Wren) at Oak Grove Cemetery, and Palm and Orange-crowned warblers below the dam at Orwell WMA feasting with Yellow-rumpeds and Tree Swallows on a recent insect hatch.

Bird List

Fri = found on April 19 pre-MBW, mostly Grant County (also Otter Tail, Traverse)

Sat = found on April 20, mostly Wilkin County (also Otter Tail)

Sun = found on April 21, Otter Tail County

Snow Goose        Fri       

Canada Goose        Fri, Sat, Sun

Trumpeter Swan        Fri, Sat, Sun

Tundra Swan        Fri

Wood Duck        Fri, Sun

Blue-winged Teal        Fri, Sat, Sun

Northern Shoveler        Fri, Sat, Sun

Gadwall        Fri, Sat, Sun

American Wigeon        Fri, Sat

Mallard        Fri, Sat, Sun

Northern Pintail        Fri, Sat, Sun

Green-winged Teal        Fri, Sat, Sun

Canvasback        Fri, Sat, Sun

Redhead        Fri, Sat

Ring-necked Duck        Fri, Sat, Sun

Lesser Scaup        Fri, Sat, Sun

Bufflehead        Fri, Sat, Sun

Common Goldeneye        Fri

Hooded Merganser        Fri, Sat

Common Merganser        Fri

Red-breasted Merganser        Fri

Ruddy Duck        Fri

Ring-necked Pheasant        Fri, Sat, Sun

Greater Prairie-Chicken        Sat

Wild Turkey        Fri, Sat, Sun

Pied-billed Grebe        Fri, Sat, Sun

Horned Grebe        Fri

Rock Pigeon        Fri, Sat, Sun

Eurasian Collared-Dove        Fri, Sat

Mourning Dove        Fri, Sat, Sun

American Coot        Fri, Sat, Sun

Sandhill Crane        Fri, Sat, Sun

Killdeer        Fri, Sat, Sun

Marbled Godwit        Sat

Dunlin        Sat

Baird’s Sandpiper        Sat

Pectoral Sandpiper        Sat

American Woodcock        Sat

Wilson’s Snipe        Fri, Sat

Solitary Sandpiper        Sat

Lesser Yellowlegs        Fri, Sat

Greater Yellowlegs        Fri, Sat

Bonaparte’s Gull        Fri, Sun

Ring-billed Gull        Fri, Sat, Sun

Herring Gull        Fri

Forster’s Tern        Fri

Common Loon        Fri, Sun

Double-crested Cormorant        Fri, Sat, Sun

American White Pelican        Fri, Sat, Sun

American Bittern        Sat

Great Blue Heron        Fri, Sat, Sun

Great Egret        Fri, Sat, Sun

Black-crowned Night-Heron        Fri

Turkey Vulture        Fri, Sat

Northern Harrier        Fri, Sat, Sun

Sharp-shinned Hawk        Fri, Sun

Cooper’s Hawk        Fri, Sun

Bald Eagle        Fri, Sat, Sun

Broad-winged Hawk        Sat

Swainson’s Hawk        Sat

Red-tailed Hawk        Fri, Sat, Sun

Rough-legged Hawk        Fri

Great Horned Owl        Sun

Belted Kingfisher        Fri, Sat, Sun

Red-bellied Woodpecker        Sun

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker        Fri, Sun

Downy Woodpecker        Fri, Sat, Sun

Hairy Woodpecker        Sat

Northern Flicker        Fri, Sat, Sun

Pileated Woodpecker         Sat, Sun

American Kestrel        Fri, Sat

Merlin        Sun

Eastern Phoebe        Fri, Sat, Sun

Blue Jay        Fri, Sat, Sun

American Crow        Fri, Sat, Sun

Horned Lark        Fri, Sat, Sun

Tree Swallow        Fri, Sat, Sun

Barn Swallow        Sat

Black-capped Chickadee        Fri, Sat, Sun

White-breasted Nuthatch        Fri, Sat, Sun

Brown Creeper        Fri, Sun

Winter Wren        Sun

Golden-crowned Kinglet        Sun

Ruby-crowned Kinglet        Fri, Sat, Sun

Eastern Bluebird        Fri, Sun

Hermit Thrush        Fri, Sat

American Robin        Fri, Sat, Sun

Brown Thrasher         Sat, Sun

European Starling        Fri, Sat, Sun

Cedar Waxwing        Fri, Sun

House Sparrow        Fri, Sat, Sun

House Finch        Fri, Sat, Sun

Purple Finch        Fri, Sun

Pine Siskin        Sun

American Tree Sparrow        Fri, Sat

Chipping Sparrow        Fri, Sat, Sun

Vesper Sparrow        Fri, Sat

Savannah Sparrow        Fri, Sat

Fox Sparrow        Fri, Sun

Song Sparrow        Fri, Sat, Sun

White-throated Sparrow        Fri, Sun

Dark-eyed Junco        Fri, Sat, Sun

Yellow-headed Blackbird        Fri, Sat, Sun

Western Meadowlark        Fri, Sat

Red-winged Blackbird        Fri, Sat, Sun

Brown-headed Cowbird        Fri, Sat, Sun

Rusty Blackbird        Fri, Sat

Brewer’s Blackbird         Sat, Sun

Common Grackle        Fri, Sat, Sun

Orange-crowned Warbler        Sun

Palm Warbler        Sun

Yellow-rumped Warbler        Fri, Sat, Sun

Northern Cardinal        Sun