*          *          *


JUNE 19 - 20 - 21, 2009

Well, I think we made the right choice by going birding rather than to the Kenny Chesney concert! (See below for an incident involving someone from Ada; thanks to ace investigative reporters Dan & Sandy for this news item.) Of course, the MBW's highlight was our experience at Gary Pines Wayside with that apparent hybrid family group of wood-pewees, which seemed to include at least one "pure" Western! (Other observers there through yesterday concurred with this identification, but we'll have to see what MOURC has to say.) It's just too bad the weather then was counterproductive so that more of you weren't able to see and hear all that Ron, George and I did by staying later.

Otherwise, the weather was pretty cooperative all three days, considering it wasn't too hot or windy, and many of us were treated to an especially pleasant Saturday evening. And there were several other birds of note, especially those Gray Partridges, still-booming prairie-chickens, baby loons and grebes, good looks at rails, several cuckoos, a surprising Barred Owl by day, a vireo nest and Scarlet Tanager together on that devious county line, Lark and Le Conte's sparrows, and those good-looking Chestnut-collareds at Felton.


Bird List:

N = June 19 in Norman Co. (96 species + 2 in Clay Co. on June 19) 

C = June 20-21 in Clay Co. (108 species + 2 in Otter Tail Co. on June 21)

• O = June 21 in Otter Tail Co. only (2 species)

Canada Goose     NC

Trumpeter Swan     NC

Wood Duck     NC

Gadwall     NC

Mallard     NC

Blue-winged Teal     NC

Northern Shoveler     NC

Green-winged Teal     NC

Canvasback     NC

Ring-necked Duck     NC

Hooded Merganser     NC

Gray Partridge     C (a pair at Felton spotted by Doug)

Ring-necked Pheasant     NC

Greater Prairie-Chicken     NC (some unexpectedly still booming in both counties)

Common Loon     NC (incl a pair with young at Home Lake) 

Pied-billed Grebe     NC

Red-necked Grebe     C (incl a pair with 3 babies at Hitterdal – aw!)

Western Grebe     N (a lone adult at Home Lake)

American White Pelican     C

Double-crested Cormorant     NC

Great Blue Heron     NC

Great Egret     C

Green Heron     NC

Turkey Vulture     NC

Northern Harrier     NC

Cooper's Hawk     C

Red-tailed Hawk     NC

American Kestrel     NC

Merlin     N (at the Norman Motel in Ada)

Virginia Rail     NC

Sora     NC (nice, close views of both rails)

American Coot     NC

Sandhill Crane     N

Killdeer     NC

Spotted Sandpiper     C

Upland Sandpiper     NC

Marbled Godwit     NC

Wilson's Snipe     NC

Wilson's Phalarope     NC

Black Tern     NC

Rock Pigeon     NC

Mourning Dove     NC

Black-billed Cuckoo     NC (best looks at Twin Valley sewage ponds and Felton


Great Horned Owl     C

Barred Owl     N (a daytime surprise just south of Frenchman's Bluff)

Chimney Swift     NC

Ruby-throated Hummingbird     C

Belted Kingfisher     NC

Red-bellied Woodpecker     O (heard-only just south of the county line on Sunday)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker     NC

Downy Woodpecker     NC

Hairy Woodpecker     NC

Northern Flicker     NC

Pileated Woodpecker     NC

Eastern Wood-Pewee     NC

[Western Wood-Pewee     N (1 or 2 – or maybe none? – at Gary Pines Wayside)]

Alder Flycatcher     NC

Willow Flycatcher     NC (best view at Felton Prairie)

Least Flycatcher     NC

Eastern Phoebe     NC

Great Crested Flycatcher     NC

Western Kingbird     C (pair at Starlite Motel parking lot) 

Eastern Kingbird     NC

Yellow-throated Vireo     NC (plus one on a nest on the Otter Tail/Clay Co. line spotted

     by George)  

Warbling Vireo     NC

Red-eyed Vireo     NC

Blue Jay     NC

American Crow     NC

Horned Lark     NC

Purple Martin     N

Tree Swallow     NC

Northern Rough-winged Swallow     C

Bank Swallow     NC

Cliff Swallow     NC

Barn Swallow     NC

Black-capped Chickadee     C

White-breasted Nuthatch     C

House Wren     NC

Sedge Wren     NC

Marsh Wren     NC

Eastern Bluebird     NC

Veery     NC

American Robin     NC

Gray Catbird     NC

Brown Thrasher     NC

European Starling     NC

Cedar Waxwing     NC

Yellow Warbler     NC

American Redstart     NC

Common Yellowthroat     NC

Scarlet Tanager     O (or was it in Clay Co?)

Chipping Sparrow     NC

Clay-colored Sparrow     NC

Field Sparrow     C

Vesper Sparrow     NC

Lark Sparrow     NC (Frenchman's Bluff and Felton Prairie) 

Savannah Sparrow     NC

Grasshopper Sparrow     C (incl one on the south side of the Norman Co line)

Le Conte's Sparrow     NC (best views in Norman Co)

Song Sparrow     NC

Swamp Sparrow     NC

Chestnut-collared Longspur     C (as handsome as ever at Felton)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak     C

Indigo Bunting     C

Bobolink     NC

Red-winged Blackbird     NC

Western Meadowlark     NC

Yellow-headed Blackbird     NC

Brewer's Blackbird     NC

Common Grackle     NC

Brown-headed Cowbird     NC

Orchard Oriole     NC (once in Norman Co at Twin Valley sewage ponds; several in

     Clay Co)

Baltimore Oriole     NC

House Finch     NC

American Goldfinch     NC

House Sparrow     NC

*          *          *

*          *          *


July 6 - 7 - 8, 2018

Well, I picked a fine time to lose my hat and neglect to get a haircut. Saturday's high of around 90 degrees coupled with high humidity (the dewpoint was in the mid-70s) resulted in a heat index of 100 or so, and along with sustained 25+ mph winds it made for some birding difficulties. No wonder I was unable to spot that Say's Phoebe with hair blowing across my eyes. But no one else could find it either during the MBW, although Tod had photographed it early Friday evening, and the phoebe appeared for Rick early Sunday afternoon after his 45-minute vigil – and a few of you saw the family group in Traverse Co on the way home.

At least the weather was much more pleasant for those on Friday's pre-MBW (in the 70s with light winds), while on Sunday morning the wind had moderated and the MBW adjourned before the heat returned in the afternoon. So we still managed to find a respectable total of 132 species in all, with around 110 in both Becker (better weather, more woods birds) and in Clay (where we had more time and more grasslands).

Among the highlights, there were Eurasian Collared-Doves, Lark Sparrows, and Dickcissels found in both counties. On Friday, some of Becker's more notable birds were Red-necked Grebes, a "fall" migrant Lesser Yellowlegs, Sharp-shinned Hawk (usually breeds farther north), Merlin, great looks at a LeConte's Sparrow, and both Northern Parula and Pine Wabler at Tamarac NWR. And in Clay County: a serendipidous pair of Gray Partridge, an unexpected Ruffed Grouse drumming (heard by some), several adult and young Greater Prairie-Chickens at Felton, a pair of Eared Grebes, a high-wire act by a blowin'-in-the-wind Upland Sandpiper, a mama Marbled Godwit with young, migrant Least Sandpipers and Greater Yellowlegs in a modest mudhole, Western Kingbirds and 3 Loggerhead Shrikes at Felton, and Blue-gray Gnatcachers and a singing Eastern Towhee at Buffalo River State Park (both rare in Clay).

...And, sadly enough, this MBW may have been a part of Minnesota ornithological history: we documented the apparent demise of the decades-old tradition (since at least the 1950s) of Chestnut-collared Longspurs nesting at Felton Prairie. Although there was a handful of sightings in May of a lone individual, so far this marks the first summer ever when there have been no reports at all of this species. Unless something turns up later this summer or perhaps next year, one of the few quintessential specialties of Minnesota birding is now history. (I still remember the DNR survey I did in July 1980 when I counted 65 singing male Chestnut-collareds here...)


Bird List

B = Becker County, July 6 (110 species)

C = Clay County, July 7-8 (108 species)

Canada Goose          BC

Trumpeter Swan          BC

Wood Duck          BC

Blue-winged Teal          BC

Northern Shoveler          C

Mallard          BC

Green-winged Teal          C

Canvasback          C

Ring-necked Duck          BC

Hooded Merganser          B

Ruddy Duck          BC

Gray Partridge          C

Ring-necked Pheasant          BC

Ruffed Grouse          C

Greater Prairie-Chicken          C

Wild Turkey          B

Pied-billed Grebe          BC

Red-necked Grebe          B

Eared Grebe          C

Rock Pigeon          BC

Eurasian Collared-Dove          BC

Mourning Dove          BC

Chimney Swift          BC

Ruby-throated Hummingbird          BC

Sora          BC

American Coot          B

Sandhill Crane          B

Killdeer          BC

Upland Sandpiper          C

Marbled Godwit          C

Least Sandpiper          C

Wilson’s Snipe          BC

Spotted Sandpiper          C

Lesser Yellowlegs          B

Greater Yellowlegs          C

Ring-billed Gull          C

Black Tern          B

Forster’s Tern          B

Common Loon          BC

Double-crested Cormorant          BC

American White Pelican          BC       

Great Blue Heron          BC

Great Egret          B

Green Heron          BC

Black-crowned Night-Heron          B

Turkey Vulture          BC

Osprey          B

Bald Eagle          BC

Northern Harrier          BC

Sharp-shinned Hawk          B

Cooper’s Hawk          C

Broad-winged Hawk          BC

Red-tailed Hawk          BC

Belted Kingfisher          C

Red-bellied Woodpecker          B

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker          BC

Downy Woodpecker          BC

Hairy Woodpecker          C

Northern Flicker          BC

Pileated Woodpecker          BC

American Kestrel          BC

Merlin          B

Eastern Wood-Pewee          BC

Alder Flycatcher          B

Least Flycatcher          BC

Eastern Phoebe          BC

Great Crested Flycatcher          BC

Western Kingbird          C

Eastern Kingbird          BC

Loggerhead Shrike          C

Yellow-throated Vireo          BC

Warbling Vireo          BC

Red-eyed Vireo          BC

Blue Jay          BC

American Crow          BC

Common Raven          B

Horned Lark          BC

Purple Martin          BC

Tree Swallow          BC

Northern Rough-winged Swallow          BC

Bank Swallow          BC

Cliff Swallow          BC

Barn Swallow          BC

Black-capped Chickadee          BC

Red-breasted Nuthatch          B

White-breasted Nuthatch          BC

Brown Creeper          B

House Wren          BC

Sedge Wren          BC

Marsh Wren          BC

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher          C

Eastern Bluebird          BC

Veery          BC

Hermit Thrush          B

American Robin          BC

Gray Catbird          BC

Brown Thrasher          C

European Starling          BC

Cedar Waxwing          BC

House Sparrow          BC

House Finch          BC

Purple Finch          B

American Goldfinch          BC

Eastern Towhee          C

Chipping Sparrow          BC

Clay-colored Sparrow          BC

Field Sparrow          B

Vesper Sparrow          BC

Lark Sparrow          BC

Savannah Sparrow          BC

Grasshopper Sparrow          BC

LeConte’s Sparrow          B

Song Sparrow          BC

Swamp Sparrow          BC

Yellow-headed Blackbird          BC

Bobolink          BC

Western Meadowlark          BC

Orchard Oriole          C

Baltimore Oriole          BC

Red-winged Blackbird          BC

Brown-headed Cowbird          BC

Brewer’s Blackbird          BC

Common Grackle          BC

Ovenbird          BC

Common Yellowthroat          BC

American Redstart          BC

Northern Parula          B

Yellow Warbler          BC

Pine Warbler          B

Rose-breasted Grosbeak          BC

Indigo Bunting          BC

Dickcissel          BC

The last Chestnut-collared Longspur departs from Felton Prairie?

(Brian Gibbons photo)

The 2018 and 2009 MBW summaries follow the summary of the 2021 MBW;

Note that Becker County was included on the 2018 MBW,

which will not be part of the 2024 MBW.


Clay County MBW Summary

June 25 - 26 - 27, 2021

Nancy tried her best, but that Laughing Gull she had found a couple days earlier in Detroit Lakes failed to reappear for our pre-MBW; and no one was able to relocate it since the day before. But the Northern Mockingbird in Randy and Sue Ness’s yard northwest of Hawley appeared right away for us on Friday afternoon, with arrangements for our visit made possible by Pat Beauzay. We were even able to watch its curious “ant-ics” for several minutes. We next went on to hear an unexpected Alder Flycatcher, followed by a Red-necked Grebe at Flora Lake.

But our luck ran out the next morning at Felton Prairie, as we had to admit that Chestnut-collared Longspurs are no longer nesting there or anywhere else in MN – a big loss in the history of Minnesota ornithology. The Say’s Phoebe was also a no-show, nor were there any shrikes to be seen (another potentially extirpated MN breeding species?). And where were the godwits? Meanwhile, a misleading warning light in Jeff’s vehicle led to a nearly flat tire, as he had to run all the way back to Fargo to get that repaired.

At least there were several positives during our visit to Felton, as our only Western Kingbird was spotted by Linda S in its preferred grove of trees, two groups of Greater Prairie-Chickens flew by as we drove up the former longspur road, Grasshopper Sparrows were singing everywhere, a pair of Upland Sandpipers put on quite a distraction display that certainly caught our attention, and the local Lark Sparrow was found twice.

Things predictably slowed down a bit in the afternoon, although we found a group of Sandhill Cranes (a couple was distantly seen earlier at Felton), and Linda M briefly heard a LeConte’s Sparrow (Deb and I probably heard it too), though it refused to respond for the rest of the group.

Sunday’s highlights included a heard-only Yellow-billed Cuckoo that sounded off for part of the group at the state park, and a briefly-seen Black-billed at Bluestem Prairie. But we also had decent looks at a few prairie-chickens in a cropfield, excellent views of another Upland Sandpiper doing its best to distract us, and Dickcissels continued to sing in several places as they had the previous two days.

We finished this MBW with a respectable 113 species, with all but 2 of these in Clay County (Forster’s Tern and Purple Martin were Becker-only birds). Part of this success was due to the favorable weather, since the temperatures were moderate, we basically avoided any rain while birding, and the prairie winds were curiously conspicuous by their absence. (That makes 3 consecutive MBWs with favorable weather, so those signed up for the Mankato and Fergus MBWs – beware.)

Bird List

Canada Goose

Trumpeter Swan

Wood Duck

Blue-winged Teal



Ring-necked Duck

Hooded Merganser

Ring-necked Pheasant

Greater Prairie-Chicken (at Felton and Bluestem Prairie)

Wild Turkey

Pied-billed Grebe

Red-necked Grebe (Flora Lake)

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Ulen)

Mourning Dove

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (heard-only by half the group at the state park)

Black-billed Cuckoo (fly-by and perched only briefly at Bluestem)

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Virginia Rail


Sandhill Crane (twice)


Upland Sandpiper (distraction flights at Felton and Bluestem Prairie)

Spotted Sandpiper

Franklin’s Gull (a few with Ring-billeds high over the landfill)

Ring-billed Gull

Black Tern

Forster’s Tern (Becker Co. only)

Common Loon

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican

Great Blue Heron

Green Heron

Turkey Vulture

Osprey (nesting on the tower en route to the mockingbird)

Northern Harrier

Cooper’s Hawk

Bald Eagle

Broad-winged Hawk (a molting immature near the landfill)

Red-tailed Hawk

Great Horned Owl

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

American Kestrel

Great Crested Flycatcher

Western Kingbird (at the “usual spot” at Felton)

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Alder Flycatcher (unexpected singing male at Hatchet Lake WPA)

Willow Flycatcher (mostly heard by Felton’s interpretive sign)

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Yellow-throated Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Common Raven (leader-only bird flew too soon)

Horned Lark

Bank Swallow

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Purple Martin (Becker Co. only)

Barn Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren

Sedge Wren

Marsh Wren

Eastern Bluebird


American Robin

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird (thanks to Pat, Randy, and Sue!)

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

House Sparrow

House Finch

American Goldfinch

Grasshopper Sparrow (lots singing, especially at Felton)

Lark Sparrow (2 spots at Felton)

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Leconte’s Sparrow (heard-only by Linda M, and possibly Deb & me)

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Yellow-headed Blackbird


Western Meadowlark

Orchard Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brewer’s Blackbird

Common Grackle

Common Yellowthroat

American Redstart

Yellow Warbler

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting (singing from the parking lot just after everyone else left for home)

Dickcissel (lots during this irruption year)


Jeff Stephenson photo

Roy Zimmerman photo

Lynn Glesne photo

Jeff Stephenson photo

Jeff Stephenson photo

Jeff Stephenson photo

Jeff Stephenson photo

Roy Zimmerman photo