Also see the 2008 MBW summary,

which includes Sherburne County,

following the summary of the 2015 MBWeekend



MAY 22 - 23, 2015

"Major Fact!!! The Stabilization Ponds at Albany MN were first constructed in 1955.

This was the first stabilization pond system in Minnesota. They were updated in 1984

with two additional ponds and the pre-aeration cells were added in 2001."  

– George Vania

•        •        •

Sure, I admit the birding in the woods on Friday morning was on the slow side at times, but, hey, Craig and I took you to the oldest sewage ponds in Minnesota! My Sewage Ponds Consultant Extraordinaire dug up this fact, and what better way to mark our 30th-Year MBW Reunion than to spend part of the pre-trip at one of Minnesota's best-known birding sites on its 60th birthday? (Hmm, I smell another one of my World-Famous MBW Trivia Questions brewing!)

We even saw a modest number of shorebirds at Albany, with all 10 species on our list there, including some close, comparative studies of a White-rumped Sandpiper or two. Some other nice finds among the waterbirds were the pair of Red-necked Grebes at Lake Isabelle and a pair of Sandhill Cranes with their colt (aw!) on Friday morning. And though some resident woods birds (e.g., cuckoos, Wood Thrush, Cerulean Warbler) were silent and missing from our list on Friday, there were a vocally entertaining pair of Barred Owls at Wildwood County Park and a decent showing of migrants, including Blue-headed and Philadelphia vireos, Swainson's Thrush, and half of our 16 warbler species. At least the woods at Birch Lake State Forest on Saturday were a bit more active, highlighted by a cooperative Golden-winged Warbler seen well by all.

I'm still not entirely sure what to make of the Blackpoll Warbler we studied at lunch on Friday in Millstream Park, since it appeared to be an adult male showing some female-like plumage characteristics. I'm now less inclined to think it was a hybrid, and maybe it was just a one-year-old male, but I was intrigued to observe a plumage I had never seen before. And I still wonder if we really heard a Red-shouldered Hawk at St John's, since there were Blue Jays nearby and they can do perfect Red-shouldered calls. And Craig's group had a presumed heard-only Blue-winged Warbler on Sunday, which I included on the list, although it's possible they heard a Golden-winged or a hybrid doing a Blue-winged's song.

So, in all, we managed a list of 130 species here if you include those two heard-onlys, a leader-only Cape May Warbler, and the Pine Siskin on the Sherburne County side of the river. (There were also 46 additional species on the main Cass County portion of this 4-day weekend that were not on this Stearns pre-MBW, for a grand total of 176.) I thank Craig and all of you for joining me in this portion of MBW's 30th-Year Reunion, since it was in Stearns County that I started birding in Minnesota while at St John's some 50 years ago. Thanks again for the memories and for allowing me to reminisce a bit about the Olden Days.

Bird List

Canada Goose

Trumpeter Swan

Wood Duck



Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Green-winged Teal



Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup

Hooded Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Wild Turkey

Common Loon

Pied-billed Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Green Heron

Turkey Vulture


Bald Eagle

Cooper's Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk (heard-only?)

Broad-winged Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk


American Coot

Sandhill Crane

Semipalmated Plover


Spotted Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs


Least Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Phalarope

Caspian Tern

Black Tern

Forster's Tern

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

Barred Owl

Common Nighthawk

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

American Kestrel

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher

Eastern Kingbird

Yellow-throated Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Horned Lark

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Bank Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren

Sedge Wren

Marsh Wren

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Eastern Bluebird


Swainson's Thrush

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing


Golden-winged Warbler

Blue-winged Warbler (heard-only?)

Black-and-white Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

American Redstart

Cape May Warbler (leader-only)

Magnolia Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Canada Warbler

Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Scarlet Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting


Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Baltimore Oriole

House Finch

Pine Siskin (Sherburne County-only)

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

*          *          *


May 2 - 3 - 4, 2008

Once again, lousy weather made the highlights reel on this MBW, with cold and windy rains on Friday in Sherburne Co, and strong, cold winds on Saturday in Stearns Co. But at least it never snowed on us, the winds finally subsided, and it actually seemed like spring by Saturday evening and Sunday. The weather in Sherburne Co was especially miserable, as evidenced by those swallows clinging to life on those snags at the NWR, but there were some good finds there, especially the out-of-range Common Raven and Eared Grebe. 

In Stearns Co, the best birds were certainly that swan and the turkeys (well, they were best for me, anyway!), and, gee, isn't it a shame that the towhee didn't hang around for my two listing rivals to see? Also, that collared-dove in Sauk Centre was unexpected, only the second one I'd ever seen in the county. More interesting, though, were the flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers on Saturday foraging in dirt fields like longspurs, looking for perhaps the only insects which were around on that cold day.

During the time we had Sunday morning in and around Lake Osakis, we turned up a Clark's Grebe among all the Westerns and Red-neckeds (for a total of 6 grebe species for the weekend), and 13 out-of-place Willets conveniently appeared on both sides of the Douglas-Todd Co line (for an apparent first county record in Todd).   

Thanks as always for coming, and don't forget the 50-cent surcharge you owe for each of the bonus counties we so thoroughly covered: Mille Lacs, Benton, and Kandiyohi!

Bird List

Sh = Sherburne Co (May 2; 94 species)

St = Stearns Co (May 3; 111 species)

D = Douglas Co (May 4)

T = Todd Co (May 4)

Total (May 2-3-4) = 133 species

Canada Goose   ShStTD

Trumpeter Swan   ShSt (a.k.a. White Starling, perhaps, but new for my Stearns Co list)

Wood Duck   ShStTD

Gadwall   ShTD

American Wigeon   ShD

Mallard   ShStTD

Blue-winged Teal   ShStTD

Northern Shoveler   ShStTD

Northern Pintail   D

Green-winged Teal   StD

Canvasback   StTD

Redhead   ShStTD

Ring-necked Duck   ShStTD

Greater Scaup   ShStD (more than usually seen in central Minn)

Lesser Scaup   ShStD

Bufflehead   ShStTD

Common Goldeneye   T

Hooded Merganser   ShStT

Common Merganser   ShStTD

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck   StTD

Ring-necked Pheasant   ShStTD

Ruffed Grouse   St

Wild Turkey   ShSt (and no question about its wildness; also new for my Stearns Co list)

Common Loon   ShStTD

Pied-billed Grebe   ShStTD

Horned Grebe   ShStTD

Red-necked Grebe   StTD

Eared Grebe   Sh (a bit out-of-range at the Princeton sewage ponds)

Western Grebe   TD

Clark's Grebe   T (well, it was 90% Clark's, so close enough)

American White Pelican   StTD

Double-crested Cormorant   ShStTD

Great Blue Heron   ShStTD

Great Egret   St

Green Heron   ShStT

Turkey Vulture   ShT

Osprey   ShSt

Bald Eagle   ShSt

Northern Harrier   ShStTD

Sharp-shinned Hawk   T

Cooper's Hawk   StT

Broad-winged Hawk   St

Red-tailed Hawk   ShStD

American Kestrel   ShSt

Merlin  ShD

Virginia Rail   ShSt

Sora   ShStTD

American Coot   ShStTD

Sandhill Crane   ShSt

Killdeer   ShStT

Greater Yellowlegs   ShSt

Lesser Yellowlegs   ShStTD

Solitary Sandpiper   ShSt

Willet   TD (quite unexpected flock of 13, on both sides of the county line)

Spotted Sandpiper   StD

Marbled Godwit   St (Paynesville sewage ponds)

Wilson's Snipe   ShStT

American Woodcock   St (in attack mode on Sat evening)

Wilson's Phalarope   D (Lake Osakis sewage ponds)

Bonaparte's Gull   ShStTD

Ring-billed Gull   ShStTD

Herring Gull   D

Caspian Tern   ShSt

Forster's Tern   StTD

Black Tern   St

Rock Pigeon   ShStTD

Eurasian Collared-Dove   St (unexpected in Sauk Centre)

Mourning Dove   ShStTD

Great Horned Owl   Sh (pair at Sherburne NWR)

Belted Kingfisher   ShStTD

Red-bellied Woodpecker   ShStTD

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker   ShStT

Downy Woodpecker   ShStTD

Hairy Woodpecker   ShStT

Northern Flicker   ShStT

Pileated Woodpecker   T

Least Flycatcher   St

Eastern Phoebe   ShSt

Blue-headed Vireo   St

Blue Jay   ShStTD

American Crow   ShStTD

Common Raven   Sh (at the NWR headquarters; a bit farther south than normal)

Horned Lark   StTD   

Purple Martin   StT

Tree Swallow   ShStTD

Cliff Swallow  ShT

Barn Swallow   ShStTD

Black-capped Chickadee   ShStTD

Red-breasted Nuthatch   ShSt

White-breasted Nuthatch   ShStTD

Brown Creeper   St (heard-only)

Marsh Wren   Sh (heard-only)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet   ShStTD

Eastern Bluebird   ShStT

Swainson's Thrush   St

American Robin   ShStTD

Brown Thrasher   ShStTD

European Starling   ShStTD

Orange-crowned Warbler   ShStTD (several good looks)

Yellow-rumped Warbler   ShStTD (or were they Yellow-rumped Longspurs?)

Pine Warbler   Sh (singing males)

Palm Warbler   ShStD

Black-and-white Warbler   StT

Ovenbird   ShSt

Northern Waterthrush   St

Eastern Towhee   ShSt (alas: NOT new for my Stearns Co list)

Chipping Sparrow   ShStTD

Clay-colored Sparrow   StTD

Field Sparrow   ShSt

Vesper Sparrow   ShSt

Lark Sparrow   Sh (Sand Dunes State Forest)

Savannah Sparrow   ShStTD

Fox Sparrow   St (answered the waterthrush recording; a bit on the late side)

Song Sparrow   ShStTD

Swamp Sparrow   ShStTD

White-throated Sparrow   ShStTD

White-crowned Sparrow   Sh (also flew into Benton Co)

Dark-eyed Junco   ShSt

Northern Cardinal   ShStD

Rose-breasted Grosbeak   ShSt

Red-winged Blackbird   ShStTD

Eastern Meadowlark   Sh

Western Meadowlark   St

Yellow-headed Blackbird   ShStTD

Rusty Blackbird   St

Brewer's Blackbird   St

Common Grackle   ShStTD

Brown-headed Cowbird   ShStTD

Purple Finch   St

House Finch   ShStTD

American Goldfinch   ShStTD

House Sparrow   ShStTD