MAY 23 - 24 - 25, 2015

So, once again, your spineless, wishy-washy tour leader announces: "Let's blow this hellhole!" (See "MBW Glossary of Terms" quiz.) And, once again, even though he's been at this for 30 years, we have a glaring example of why he (front row, second from left) keeps trying to fire Craig (orange jacket, leaning forward). It seems that Craig knew what to do as the rain became relentless on Monday morning. He had listened to Ben Wieland and knew that Cass County was no hellhole. So as YSWWTL abandons all hope and heads for Duluth's Park Point with 9 other misguided MBWers, he only manages to add 3 species to the list. Meanwhile, of course, Craig and Ben and the other faithful manage to add 8 new birds back in Cass County – including an amazing group of 5 Whimbrels in a field along CR 112! Just for that, Craig, for making me look bad, and for the 259th time, you're.... Oh, never mind.

Despite the rain which split us up prematurely on Monday morning, the weather was quite decent and we came up with a respectable total of 153 species overall. (And if you add in the 23 other species found only on the Stearns pre-MBW, we had a composite total of 176 during this 4-day weekend.) Most of the 13 shorebirds on our list were heading north, but there were very few other migrants, so we had a nice assortment of locally summering residents. Besides those completely unexpected Whimbrels, this special MBW's highlights included an out-of-range Eared Grebe at the Cass Lake sewage ponds; the excellent views of Eastern Whip-poor-will (atop the cabin's LP gas tank), American Woodcock, and even a Porcupine on Sunday evening's excursion; and 22 species of warblers.


I hesitate to express here some acknowledgments and thanks to those who helped make this 30th-Year Reunion such a success, because I'm bound to forget someone. But leading the list have to be our hosts at Deep Portage: Molly, who coordinated all the meals and lodging; Dale, who not only helped coordinate our birding itineraries, but also serves as Deep Portage's Executive Director; Ben W, who also coordinated the birding routes (and we'll miss him as he moves to Oregon); the other Ben (Jacques), who assisted with the field trips; and, of course, Lily the DPLC staff Husky. Because of their efforts on our behalf, I sent a portion of your MBW fees ($156) as a contribution to Deep Portage.

I again recognize and thank Dave Johnson and Rick Hoyme for leading the list in all-time MBWeekend attendance. Although Dave narrowly edged out Rick by just 3 MBWs, note that Dave had an advantage by having his pre-MBWs counted (and pre-MBWs mostly began after Rick's years of peak attendance). Perhaps a recount is in order?

I especially thank Bob Bossert for donating the MBW flashlights which shed renewed light on our inspiring MBW motto. His brother Steve also donated some matted photos from Chicago as door prizes. I'm grateful to "Wrong Way" Charlie who only got lost three times during the weekend but found his way back in time to act as MC during part of Sunday evening's program.

Congratulations again to Cindy & Chris and Linda who managed to decipher the most MBW idioms on the quiz. I thank Matthew for choosing this Reunion to attend his very first MBW (so which sewage pond did you select for your baptism into the MBW community?), and I thank all those who shared their photos with the other participants.

And, of course, it goes without saying that Craig has been a huge part in making MBWs what they are today. Words can't adequately express my thanks to him for enduring my somewhat tyrannical views on labor relations, for showing us that flipping around is an essential car-caravan maneuver (and not just some rude circular gesture), for teaching us to appreciate the fine cuisine at Applebee's, and even for his misguided efforts to show us the proper pronunciation of "Eye-talian" restaurants. So because I can't find enough words of thanks here, I'll just say: Craig, don't forget the appointment I made for you at the Eye Clinic next door to that Italian place in St Joe – maybe they'll finally cure you of that irritating speech impediment!

Finally, I have to thank all 8,000 of you who have registered for these MBWs during these 30 years. We couldn't have survived and succeeded over three decades without our essential traditions of car-pooling and GMRS radios (and remember CBs?), and you were the ones who were instrumental in making them work. More importantly, so many of you truly served as unofficial co-leaders on these MBWs as you spotted so many birds and helped the other participants with seeing and identifying them. And, perhaps more importantly, you have been willing to go along with just enjoying our casual approach to birding, to not take ourselves too seriously, and to have a sense of humor about it all – even when my somewhat bizarre attempts at humor fall flat. You all deserve a Junior Tour Leader Merit Badge.

Thanks again for being part of our 30-year-old MBW community. I don't know if we'll make it to 40 years – or even 35 – to have another Reunion, but I do know that all this over the years has become the most important thing I've ever been a part of....

BIRD LIST (all but 3 species in Cass Co)

Canada Goose

Trumpeter Swan

Wood Duck

American Wigeon


Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Green-winged Teal


Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup


Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Ring-necked Pheasant

Ruffed Grouse

Wild Turkey

Common Loon

Red-necked Grebe

Eared Grebe

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican

American Bittern

Great Blue Heron

Turkey Vulture


Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk


American Coot

Sandhill Crane

Semipalmated Plover


Spotted Sandpiper


Ruddy Turnstone (Duluth only)

Sanderling (Duluth only)


Least Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper (Duluth only)

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe

American Woodcock

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Caspian Tern

Black Tern

Common Tern

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo

Barred Owl

Common Nighthawk

Eastern Whip-poor-will

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Alder Flycatcher

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher

Eastern Kingbird

Yellow-throated Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Common Raven

Horned Lark

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Bank Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

Sedge Wren

Marsh Wren

Eastern Bluebird


Swainson's Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Wood Thrush

American Robin

Gray Catbird

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing


Northern Waterthrush

Golden-winged Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Mourning Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

American Redstart

Cape May Warbler

Northern Parula

Magnolia Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Palm Warbler

Pine Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Canada Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Eastern Towhee

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Le Conte's Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Scarlet Tanager

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting


Red-winged Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Baltimore Oriole

Purple Finch

Pine Siskin

American Goldfinch

*        *        *

Note that there were just too many of us to fit within a single photo.

Among others, Craig is missing  – but it doesn't really matter since he had just been fired!


MAY 28-29-30-31, 2010

Needless to say, it was quite a memorable weekend! While I was surprised by the composite list of 151 birds found within Cass Co, since there were essentially no migrants or unexpected rarities, Ben says he was not at all surprised by this diversity in his home county during the breeding season. (Note there were also 7 Morrison County-only species on Friday, for a grand total of 158.)

I suppose our most unexpected find was that family group of Red Crossbills which provided a grand finale to the MBW on Monday. Two-thirds of our group was there to see them (Craig's group was birding elsewhere – grounds for immediate dismissal, of course!), including that nice adult male which eventually teed up nicely.

Both of our evening excursions provided special highlights as well – at least for those still awake enough to take advantage of them! I was especially impressed by the number of Nelson's Sparrows that Ben & Craig & company heard at the Boy River on Saturday. On both evenings at Deep Portage, visible Barred Owls certainly entertained us, while invisible but vocal Whip-poor-wills were easily heard. And our excursion Sunday evening to Swamp Lake turned up a Barred Owl posing on a highway sign, a visible Nelson's Sparrow, and calling Yellow Rails – including one which a few of us even glimpsed as it fluttered off into the dark.

There are so many I'd like to thank for contributing to the success of this special MBW Reunion, and I hesitate to do so since I'm sure I'll forget someone worthy of mention. Of course, Craig deserves special thanks for his co-leading skills – just as he has on 49 previous MBWs. And without Ben & Molly & Dale at Deep Portage, of course, none of the meals, lodging, and birding would have been possible. Certainly, nothing I could say here could adequately express how special these four people are.  

Many others also made special contributions: Dorothy (and her anonymous benefactor) for generously providing our MBW hats; Barb for compiling the unique album containing your thoughts and photos (if you still have prints to include post-MBW, contact her at; Robin and "the girls" for the anniversary cake; Audrey for her efforts as staff photographer (a CD of images may be a possibility; contact her at; Rick and his "Wanted Poster"; Dan & Sandy and their puzzles (contact them at for the answers); Dick H, Bob B, and Bonnie & Charlie who contributed special evening anecdotes for the group), and those who presented me with gifts large and small....Audrey, Conny & Susan, Mary G, Steve/Julie/Bob (for the Garmin), and Ben/Molly/Dale (for the framed Golden-crowned Sparrow photo).

Again, my thanks to those I may have forgotten to acknowledge, to all of you who were able to be a part of this event, and to all 5,704 registrants who have been a part of the MBW community since 1986. And here's to our next 25 years!


M = Morrison Co. option, May 28 (105 species, incl 7 species not found in Cass Co)

C = Cass Co., May 29-30-31 (151 species)

Canada Goose     MC

Trumpeter Swan     C

Wood Duck     MC

Mallard     MC

Blue-winged Teal     MC

Ring-necked Duck     C

Common Goldeneye     C

Hooded Merganser     MC

Common Merganser     C

Red-breasted Merganser     C

Ruddy Duck     M only

Ring-necked Pheasant     MC

Ruffed Grouse     MC

Wild Turkey     MC

Common Loon     MC

Pied-billed Grebe     C

Red-necked Grebe     C

Eared Grebe     M only

American White Pelican     C

Double-crested Cormorant     MC

American Bittern     C

Great Blue Heron     MC

Great Egret     C

Green Heron     MC

Turkey Vulture     MC

Osprey     MC

Bald Eagle     MC

Northern Harrier     MC

Sharp-shinned Hawk     C

Red-shouldered Hawk     C

Broad-winged Hawk     MC

Red-tailed Hawk     MC

American Kestrel     MC

Merlin     C

Yellow Rail     C

Virginia Rail     C

Sora     MC

Sandhill Crane     MC

Killdeer     MC

Spotted Sandpiper     MC

Semipalmated Sandpiper     M only

Least Sandpiper     M only

Wilson's Snipe     C

American Woodcock     C

Wilson's Phalarope     M only

Franklin's Gull     C

Ring-billed Gull     C

Herring Gull     C

Caspian Tern     C

Common Tern     C

Forster's Tern     C

Rock Pigeon     MC

Mourning Dove     MC

Yellow-billed Cuckoo     MC

Black-billed Cuckoo     C

Barred Owl     MC

Whip-poor-will     C

Chimney Swift     MC

Ruby-throated Hummingbird     MC

Belted Kingfisher     C

Red-headed Woodpecker     M only

Red-bellied Woodpecker     MC

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker     MC

Downy Woodpecker     MC

Hairy Woodpecker     MC

Northern Flicker     MC

Pileated Woodpecker     MC

Olive-sided Flycatcher     MC

Eastern Wood-Pewee     MC

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher     C

Alder Flycatcher     MC

Willow Flycatcher     M only

Least Flycatcher     MC

Eastern Phoebe     MC

Great Crested Flycatcher     MC

Eastern Kingbird     MC

Yellow-throated Vireo     MC

Blue-headed Vireo     C

Warbling Vireo     MC

Red-eyed Vireo     MC

Gray Jay     C

Blue Jay     MC

American Crow     MC

Common Raven     C

Horned Lark     C

Purple Martin     MC

Tree Swallow     MC

Northern Rough-winged Swallow     MC

Bank Swallow     MC

Cliff Swallow     MC

Barn Swallow     MC

Black-capped Chickadee     MC

Red-breasted Nuthatch     MC

White-breasted Nuthatch     MC

House Wren     MC

Winter Wren     C

Sedge Wren     MC

Marsh Wren     MC

Golden-crowned Kinglet     C

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher     MC

Eastern Bluebird     MC

Veery     MC

Hermit Thrush     C

Wood Thrush     MC

American Robin     MC

Gray Catbird     MC

Brown Thrasher     C

European Starling     MC

Cedar Waxwing     MC

Golden-winged Warbler     MC

Nashville Warbler     C

Northern Parula     C

Yellow Warbler     MC

Chestnut-sided Warbler     MC

Magnolia Warbler     C

Yellow-rumped Warbler     MC

Black-throated Green Warbler     C

Blackburnian Warbler     C

Pine Warbler     MC

Palm Warbler     C

Black-and-white Warbler     MC

American Redstart     MC

Ovenbird     MC

Northern Waterthrush     C

Connecticut Warbler     C

Mourning Warbler     C

Common Yellowthroat     MC

Canada Warbler     C

Eastern Towhee     MC

Chipping Sparrow     MC

Clay-colored Sparrow     MC

Vesper Sparrow     MC

Savannah Sparrow     MC

Le Conte's Sparrow     C

Nelson's Sparrow     C

Song Sparrow     MC

Lincoln's Sparrow     C

Swamp Sparrow     MC

White-throated Sparrow     C

Scarlet Tanager     MC

Northern Cardinal     MC

Rose-breasted Grosbeak     MC

Indigo Bunting     MC

Bobolink     MC

Red-winged Blackbird     MC

Eastern Meadowlark     MC

Western Meadowlark     MC

Yellow-headed Blackbird     MC

Brewer's Blackbird     C

Common Grackle     MC

Brown-headed Cowbird     MC

Baltimore Oriole     MC

Purple Finch     C

House Finch     MC

Red Crossbill     C

Pine Siskin     C

American Goldfinch     MC

House Sparrow     MC