Houston County MBW Summary

June 11 - 12 - 13, 2021

I may have been the only one disappointed that the forecast high of 97 in La Crosse on Friday failed to reach its mark. It was a mere 94, shy of the all-time high temperature record of 96 degrees on a MBWeekend. (That MBW was based in Ortonville in July 2006, and it was called off early Saturday afternoon; had the Sunday part not been canceled, we would have set a record that would be hard to beat – the high that day was 106 degrees, with a heat index of 110!)

As it turned out, the weather on our Houston County MBW was close to ideal on Saturday and Sunday morning, pleasantly cool both mornings and tolerably warm Saturday afternoon. No rain fell on us, it was only windy at one of our stops, and mosquitoes were not a distraction anywhere. Admittedly, it was still hot early Friday evening as most of us headed over to La Crescent after dinner for a 2-hour pre-MBW session, but there were enough birds to distract us from the temperature. We had a close and cooperative Prothonotary at the start of the Wagon Wheel Trail, a family of Barred Owls whooped it up on Shore Acres Rd., and a Common Moorhen (now only a local and uncommon/rare species in MN) was waiting for us at Blue Lake.

Saturday was clearly highlighted by our morning drive on Hillside Rd. We turned up no fewer than 4 Cerulean Warblers, 3 Tufted Titmice, a heard-only Acadian Flycatcher, and two singing Henslow’s Sparrows (one of which posed in the scopes for a few minutes for all to see)! More Prothonotaries were at always-reliable Millstone Landing, and after lunch your Spineless, Wishy-Washy Tour Leader had no idea where he was going as he missed a turn, tried the next road that went the wrong way, and mis-led the group through a corner of Iowa.

Back in Houston Co., our first stop at Gordon Anderson Recreation Area was a big disappointment as the drought had all but destroyed the grassland. But our next drive along Quarry Rd., Eitzen Creek Dr., and Backwoods Dr. brought us into some beautiful remote woodlands where I managed to find the way without mishap for a change. No Timber Rattlesnakes were on their traditional limestone ledges, but the nest cavities for both Pileated and Red-headed woodpeckers in the same snag were the afternoon’s highlight – especially for those who could see the two baby Pileateds in the hole. Our last stop before an early dinner was for Willow Flycatchers at Shamrock Lake, and after dinner a few were still awake enough to go out and hear an E. Whip-poor-will near Hokah.

Sunday morning finally brought us to Beaver Creek Valley State Park, where our hike in refreshingly cool temperatures yielded at least 6 Acadian Flycatchers plus a Louisiana Waterthrush that took awhile to finally appear and show itself for all to see as it finally sang from a visible perch. After the park, there was just enough time to try for a stake-out Bell’s Vireo on Walcker Dr. that finally showed for those who had enough time to hang around for an extra 45 minutes. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was also heard and seen briefly by some, as we brought our final list to 103 species.          

Bird List (103 species; all in Houston County)

Canada Goose

Trumpeter Swan

Wood Duck


Ring-necked Duck

Hooded Merganser

Ring-necked Pheasant

Wild Turkey

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Yellow-billed Cuckoo (mostly heard on Walcker Dr.)

Black-billed Cuckoo (seen only by Pete at the state park)

Common Nighthawk

Eastern Whip-poor-will (heard after sunset on Saturday)

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Common Gallinule (Friday evening at Blue Lake)

Sandhill Crane


Ring-billed Gull

Black Tern

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Green Heron

Turkey Vulture

Northern Harrier

Bald Eagle

Red-tailed Hawk

Eastern Screech-Owl (heard only by Frank on Shore Acres Rd.)

Barred Owl

Belted Kingfisher

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Great Crested Flycatcher

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Acadian Flycatcher (1 on Hillside Rd. + 6 at the state park)

Willow Flycatcher

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Bell’s Vireo (finally seen by some on Walcker Dr.)

Yellow-throated Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Purple Martin

Barn Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse (3 on Hillside Rd.)

White-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren

Sedge Wren

Marsh Wren

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Eastern Bluebird


Wood Thrush

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

House Sparrow

House Finch

American Goldfinch

Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Henslow’s Sparrow (1 seen and another heard on Hillside Rd.)

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Eastern Towhee


Eastern Meadowlark

Orchard Oriole (heard only)

Baltimore Oriole

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Common Grackle


Louisiana Waterthrush (a reluctant singing male at the state park)

Blue-winged Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler (1 in La Crescent + more at Millstone)

Common Yellowthroat

American Redstart

Cerulean Warbler (4 on Hillside Dr.)

Yellow Warbler

Scarlet Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting



Roy Zimmerman photo

Roy Zimmerman photo

Roy Zimmerman photo

Rose Shea photo

Roy Zimmerman photo