Note that some of the birding on these MBWeekends

included Watonwan and other nearby counties.


Watowan - Cottonwood - Murray MBW Summary

May 12 - 13 - 14, 2017

There may have been too much dust on the gravel roads all three days, too much wind on Saturday, and then there was Sunday’s amazing but disconcerting birding report of a Western Sandpiper from those mudflats where we were on Saturday. But we certainly came up with a very nice assortment of birds as evidenced by our composite total of 145 species, with 121 of these on Friday’s pre-MBW (all but 3 of them in Watonwan Co), and 128 on the main Cottonwood-Murray MBW.

Our effort in Watonwan County was especially satisfying, since this under-birded county is generally considered as less interesting than the other two we visited. Besides the Summer Tanager, our other highlights that day included an unusually cooperative and visible Least Bittern, a pair of Red-necked Grebes at their Case Lake nest, two Orchard Orioles, and 17 warbler species – including a close Cape May and multiple Golden-wingeds.

On Saturday we were only able to add two more warblers to bring our final list to 19 species, but we certainly did much better on shorebirds. While we could only manage to find seven shorebird species in Watonwan (we only ran across one flooded field), there were 12 species in Murray just at that nice flooded area on the Lyon County line. A Hudsonian Godwit was the best bird, but there were also American Golden-Plovers, several White-rumped Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, and Dunlins. (Unfortunately, though, we would have done much better there on Sunday after a whole lot more migrants had arrived: a total of no fewer than 21 shorebird species (!), including a photographed Western Sandpiper, an avocet, a count of 17 Hudsonians (not just one), and around 1,000 peeps.)

Also of interest on this windy Saturday was a lone Lark Sparrow in Cottonwood and two apparent and out-of-season Red-breasted Mergansers in Murray, on Sunday there was a boldly visible Virginia Rail just east of Windom, and most of us on the way home had time to coax a reluctant Henslow’s Sparrow out of a Brown County grassland that Brian had found the day before. (A few in the group also stopped at the Sleepy Eye sewage ponds later and “unofficially" found Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Stilt Sandpiper, and Sanderling.)

Bird List

W = Watonwan Co May 12

C = Cottonwood Co May 13-14

M = Murray Co May 13

Canada Goose        WCM

Trumpeter Swan        WCM

Wood Duck        WCM

Gadwall        WCM

American Wigeon        M

Mallard        WCM

Blue-winged Teal        WCM

Northern Shoveler        WM

Northern Pintail        M

Green-winged Teal        M

Redhead        WC

Ring-necked Duck      (Blue Earth Co only)

Lesser Scaup        WM

Hooded Merganser        W

Red-breasted Merganser        M

Ruddy Duck        WCM

Ring-necked Pheasant        WCM

Wild Turkey        WC

Pied-billed Grebe        WC

Red-necked Grebe        W

Rock Pigeon        WCM

Eurasian Collared-Dove        WCM

Mourning Dove        WCM

Common Nighthawk        C

Chimney Swift        CM

Ruby-throated Hummingbird        WC

Virginia Rail        WCM

Sora        WCM

American Coot        WCM

American Golden-Plover        M

Semipalmated Plover        M

Killdeer        WCM

Hudsonian Godwit        M

Dunlin        WM

Least Sandpiper        WCM

White-rumped Sandpiper        CM

Pectoral Sandpiper        WM

Semipalmated Sandpiper        CM

Short-billed Dowitcher        M

Spotted Sandpiper        WCM

Greater Yellowlegs        W

Lesser Yellowlegs        WM

Ring-billed Gull        W

Black Tern        WCM

Forster's Tern        WCM

Double-crested Cormorant        WC

American White Pelican        WCM

American Bittern        WC

Least Bittern        W

Great Blue Heron        WC

Green Heron        W

Turkey Vulture        WCM

Bald Eagle        WC

Northern Harrier        WCM

Sharp-shinned Hawk        C

Broad-winged Hawk        WC

Red-tailed Hawk        WCM

Belted Kingfisher        WCM

Red-headed Woodpecker        WC

Red-bellied Woodpecker        WC

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker        WC

Downy Woodpecker        WC

Hairy Woodpecker        WC

Northern Flicker        WCM

Pileated Woodpecker        W

Least Flycatcher        WCM

Eastern Phoebe        WC

Great Crested Flycatcher        WC

Eastern Kingbird        WCM

Yellow-throated Vireo        WC

Blue-headed Vireo        WC

Warbling Vireo        WCM

Blue Jay        WC

American Crow        WCM

Horned Lark        CM

Purple Martin        M

Tree Swallow        WCM

Northern Rough-winged Swallow        WCM

Bank Swallow        WM

Cliff Swallow        WCM

Barn Swallow        WCM

Black-capped Chickadee        WC

White-breasted Nuthatch        WCM

House Wren        WCM

Sedge Wren        WCM

Marsh Wren        WCM

Ruby-crowned Kinglet        WC

Veery        W

Gray-cheeked Thrush        WCM

Swainson's Thrush        WCM

American Robin        WCM

Gray Catbird        WC

Brown Thrasher        WCM

European Starling        WCM

Cedar Waxwing        C

House Sparrow        WCM

American Pipit        CM

House Finch        WCM

American Goldfinch        WCM

Ovenbird        WC

Northern Waterthrush        WC

Golden-winged Warbler        W

Black-and-white Warbler        WC

Tennessee Warbler        WC

Orange-crowned Warbler        W

Nashville Warbler        WC

Common Yellowthroat        WC

American Redstart        WC

Cape May Warbler        W

Magnolia Warbler        WCM

Blackburnian Warbler        C

Yellow Warbler        WCM

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler        WC

Palm Warbler        WCM

Yellow-rumped Warbler        WCM

Black-throated Green Warbler        W

Wilson's Warbler        C

Chipping Sparrow        WCM

Clay-colored Sparrow        WCM

Field Sparrow        WC

Vesper Sparrow        WCM

Lark Sparrow        C

Savannah Sparrow        WCM

Grasshopper Sparrow        C

Henslow's Sparrow     (Brown Co only)

Song Sparrow        WCM

Lincoln's Sparrow        WC

Swamp Sparrow        WCM

White-throated Sparrow        WCM

Harris's Sparrow        WCM

White-crowned Sparrow        M

Summer Tanager        W

Scarlet Tanager        W

Northern Cardinal        WC

Rose-breasted Grosbeak        WCM

Indigo Bunting        C

Bobolink        CM

Red-winged Blackbird        WCM

Western Meadowlark        C

Yellow-headed Blackbird        WCM

Common Grackle        WCM

Brown-headed Cowbird        WCM

Orchard Oriole        W

Baltimore Oriole        WCM

*          *          *



May 1 - 2 - 3, 2009 (MBW 1)

May 9 - 10, 2009 (MBW 2)

Yeah, yeah, I know, you don't have to remind me that I said the later MBW would be better. And, no, on MBW #2 we were unable to match the likes of both a Say's Phoebe and Western Tanager. Even the weather was worse a week later, especially on Sunday morning, when it never rose out of the 40s, and there was a decided wind-chill factor besides. (Actually, it was windy on both MBWs, although that's to be expected out on the prairie; but, remarkably, there was no rain as we birded on either weekend.)

In some ways, however, it really was better the second time around. Not only was the species total higher, but it only took us two days to get that many – it took MBW #1 three days to come up with 10 fewer species. Both MBWs did well on shorebirds (16 and 17 species respectively), but MBW #2 did better on balance with its Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, White-rumped Sandpiper, and Red-necked Phalaropes. Our warbler list then was predictably higher, given the later date, but I was surprised that no fewer than 15 species turned up for us. In addition, though perhaps not as sexy as that phoebe and tanager, there were a Peregrine Falcon, unexpected Common Terns, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher to boast about.

Both MBWs recorded that strangely late assortment of geese at the Butterfield sewage ponds: though the Cacklings were absent on MBW #2, the Snow and Ross's geese numbers then actually went up. Both MBWs listed Windom's Eurasian Collared-Doves (though heard-only on #2), and there were Eastern Meadowlarks unexpectedly singing on both.

Thanks to all for coming: especially John Larsen (Watonwan Co only), Linda McGouirk, Tom Leaf, and Mary Beer who were there for their very first MBW experience. And this was only the second MBW for Sue Leaf, Jeremy Berman, and Bob & Polly Sirr. (Those on MBW #2 also owe a big thank-you to Sue & Tom Leaf who scouted out the Kinbrae Supper Club, so we didn't have to eat at that "World Famous" place in Windom!)  

Species Totals

MBW #1 = 134 species (incl 22 species not seen on 2nd MBW)

MBW #2 = 144 species (incl 32 species not seen on 1st MBW)

Bird Lists

1 = seen/heard on 1st MBW, May 1-2-3 

2 = seen/heard on 2nd MBW, May 9-10

W = Watonwan Co (May 1 option on 1st MBW / partial list at Butterfield sewage ponds on 2nd


C = Cottonwood Co

M = Murray Co

Greater White-fronted Goose   1-WC (4 birds) / 2-W (only 3)

Snow Goose   1-WC (<50 birds) / 2-W (~130 total)

Ross's Goose   1-W (2 birds) / 2-W (8 present)

Cackling Goose   1-W (2 individuals)

Canada Goose   1-WCM / 2-CM

Trumpeter Swan   1-C / 2-C

Wood Duck   1-WCM / 2-C

Gadwall   1-WCM / 2-C

American Wigeon   1-CM

Mallard   1-WCM / 2-CM

Blue-winged Teal   1-WCM / 2-CM

Northern Shoveler   1-WCM / 2-CM

Green-winged Teal   1-WCM / 2-C

Canvasback   1-WC / 2-C

Redhead   1-WCM / 2-C

Ring-necked Duck   1-WCM / 2-C

Lesser Scaup   1-WCM / 2-CM

Bufflehead   1-WM

Hooded Merganser   1-M / 2-CM

Red-breasted Merganser   1-M (Lake Wilson)

Ruddy Duck   1-WCM / 2-M

Gray Partridge   1-W (pair at Eagle Nest Co Park) 

Ring-necked Pheasant   1-WCM / 2-CM

Wild Turkey   1-C / 2-C

Common Loon   1-M (Lake Wilson) / 2-M (ditto)

Pied-billed Grebe   1-WCM / 2-CM

Red-necked Grebe   1-WC / 2-C 

Eared Grebe   1-M (Lake Wilson)

Western Grebe   1-C

American White Pelican   1-WCM / 2-CM

Double-crested Cormorant   1-WCM / 2-CM

American Bittern   2-C (see nicely at Bat Lake)

Great Blue Heron   1-WC / 2-CM

Great Egret   1-CM / 2-CM

Green Heron   1-C / 2-C

Black-crowned Night-Heron   1-M / 2-C

Turkey Vulture   1-WCM / 2-M

Osprey   1-C

Bald Eagle   1-WC / 2-C

Northern Harrier   1-WCM / 2-CM

Sharp-shinned Hawk   1-WC

Cooper's Hawk   1-WM / 2-M

Broad-winged Hawk   1-WCM

Swainson's Hawk   2-CM (west of Chandler & over Red Rock Falls Co Park) 

Red-tailed Hawk   1-WCM / 2-CM

American Kestrel   1-WCM / 2-C

Merlin   2-C (chasing swallows at Wolf Lake WPA) 

Peregrine Falcon   2-C (flushing shorebirds at Wolf Lake)

Virginia Rail   1-WC / 2-C

Sora   1-WCM / 2-C

American Coot   1-WCM / 2-CM

American Golden-Plover   1-M (fly-by flock at Chandler)

Semipalmated Plover   1-CM / 2-C

Killdeer   1-WCM / 2-CM

Spotted Sandpiper   1-WC / 2-CM

Solitary Sandpiper   1-CM / 2-CM

Greater Yellowlegs   1-M / 2-C

Willet   1-WCM (most seen at Slayton) / 2-CW (Wolf Lake & Butterfield)

Lesser Yellowlegs   1-WCM / 2-CM

Upland Sandpiper   1-C / 2-C

Ruddy Turnstone   2-M (Lake Wilson)

Sanderling   2-W (possibly a first county record?) 

Semipalmated Sandpiper   1-WCM

Least Sandpiper   1-WC / 2-C

White-rumped Sandpiper   2-M (Lake Wilson sewage ponds)

Dunlin   1-WM / 2-CW

Short-billed Dowitcher   1-M / 2-C

Long-billed Dowitcher   1-WCM / 2-C (nice side-by side dowitcher comparisons on both MBWs)

Wilson's Snipe   1-W

Wilson's Phalarope   1-WCM / 2-CMW

Red-necked Phalarope   2-W (nice phalarope comparison at Butterfield)

Bonaparte's Gull   1-M

Franklin's Gull   1-CM (also May 1 in Brown Co) / 2-M

Ring-billed Gull   1-WCM / 2-CM

Black Tern   2-M

Common Tern   2-M (2 at Lake Wilson)

Forster's Tern   1-WCM / 2-CM

Rock Pigeon   1-WCM / 2-CM

Eurasian Collared-Dove   1-C (pair along 6th St in Windom) / 2-C (heard-only)

Mourning Dove   1-WCM / 2-CM

Great Horned Owl   1-W

Chimney Swift   1-C / 2-CM

Belted Kingfisher   1-WCM / 2-CM

Red-bellied Woodpecker   1-WC / 2-C

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker   1-WCM / 2-C

Downy Woodpecker   1-WCM / 2-CM

Hairy Woodpecker   1-WC

Northern Flicker   1-WCM / 2-CM

Least Flycatcher   1-WC / 2-CM

Eastern Phoebe   1-W / 2-C

Say's Phoebe   1-C (also seen in Jackson Co!)

Eastern Kingbird   2-C

Blue-headed Vireo   2-CM

Warbling Vireo   2-CM

Blue Jay   1-WCM / 2-C

American Crow   1-WCM / 2-CM

Horned Lark   1-WCM / 2-CM

Purple Martin   1-WM / 2-CM

Tree Swallow   1-WCM / 2-CM

Northern Rough-winged Swallow   1-WC / 2-CM

Bank Swallow   1-W / 2-CM

Cliff Swallow   1-WC / 2-CM

Barn Swallow   1-WCM / 2-CM

Black-capped Chickadee   1-WCM / 2-CM

White-breasted Nuthatch   1-WCM / 2-C

Brown Creeper   1-M

House Wren   1-C / 2-CM

Sedge Wren   1-C / 2-C

Marsh Wren   1-WCM / 2-C

Ruby-crowned Kinglet   1-WCM / 2-CM

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher   2-C (Red Rock Lakes Co Park) 

Eastern Bluebird   1-WC / 2-C

Veery   2-C (heard-only)

Gray-cheeked Thrush   2-C

Swainson's Thrush   1-WC / 2-CM

American Robin   1-WCM / 2-CM

Gray Catbird   2-C

Brown Thrasher   1-WCM / 2-C

European Starling   1-WCM / 2-CM

American Pipit   1-C / 2-M

Cedar Waxwing   2-M

Golden-winged Warbler   2-C (mostly heard in Windom)

Tennessee Warbler   2-C

Orange-crowned Warbler   1-WC / 2-C

Nashville Warbler   2-C

Yellow Warbler   2-C

Yellow-rumped Warbler   1-WCM / 2-CM

Black-throated Green Warbler   2-C                                                                                      

Palm Warbler   1-C / 2-CM

Blackpoll Warbler   2-C

Black-and-white Warbler   1-WC / 2-CM

American Redstart   2-C

Ovenbird   2-C

Northern Waterthrush   2-C

Common Yellowthroat   2-C

Wilson's Warbler   2-CM

[Summer Tanager - Dee et al. took a time-out to Good Thunder on May 1]

Western Tanager   1-C (also seen in Brown Co!)

Eastern Towhee   1-W (Eagle Nest Co Park)

Chipping Sparrow   1-WCM / 2-CM

Clay-colored Sparrow   1-WCM / 2-CM

Field Sparrow   1-WCM / 2-CM

Vesper Sparrow   1-WCM / 2-CM

Savannah Sparrow   1-CM / 2-CM

Song Sparrow   1-WCM / 2-CM

Lincoln's Sparrow   1-WCM / 2-CM

Swamp Sparrow   1-WC / 2-C

White-throated Sparrow   1-WCM / 2-CM

Harris's Sparrow   1-WM / 2-CM

White-crowned Sparrow   1-WCM / 2-CM

Dark-eyed Junco   1-C / 2-C (unusually late)

Northern Cardinal   1-WC / 2-C

Rose-breasted Grosbeak   2-C

Bobolink   2-CM

Red-winged Blackbird   1-WCM / 2-CM

Eastern Meadowlark   1-WC (unexpected near LaSalle & at Wolf Lake) / 2-C (3 singing at Wolf Lake)

Western Meadowlark   1-WCM / 2-CM

Yellow-headed Blackbird   1-WCM / 2-CM

Brewer's Blackbird   1-C

Common Grackle   1-WCM / 2-CM

Brown-headed Cowbird   1-WCM / 2-CM

Baltimore Oriole   2-CM

Purple Finch   1-W

House Finch   1-WCM / 2-CM

Pine Siskin   1-WC / 2-CM

American Goldfinch   1-WCM / 2-CM

House Sparrow   1-WCM / 2-CM