Summer Tanager

11 May 2014, near jct of Blue Earth Co Rd 47 & MN Hwy 68

(Roy Zimmerman photo)

This Summer Tanager first called to our attention by George L was certainly the rarest thing we found during this MBW, although note this was just one of three photographed in MN this weekend – see the MOU's Recently Seen page! (Ours was the only male in full plumage, though, so that has to count for something.) 

I'd say it also counts for a lot that this was not the only highlight of our MBW as we came up with an unexpected and impressive total of 143 species. Of these, 122 were in Brown County, with 116 of them in Brown on Saturday (plus 3 others elsewhere that day). And I was indeed surprised that we saw so many birds since there were no fall-outs or warbler waves anywhere that we encountered, but we still pieced together a nice list of 17 warbler species. We also came up with the same total of shorebirds, with a tip from Linda directing us to drawn-down Sand Lake in Sibley County to see 14 shorebirds on Sunday afternoon on our way home. The best of these was that Willet, but of note there as well were a Ruddy Turnstone, a few White-rumped Sandpipers, Dunlins, and Short-billed Dowitchers.

Other highlights included an unexpected adult Common Tern at the Sleepy Eye sewage ponds, along with an impressive total there of 290 Wilson's Phalaropes. That posing-for-photos Harris's Sparrow along with the other birds hiding from the wind in that modest patch of woods by Lone Tree Lake illustrated that the best migrant traps are often chanced upon at unpredictable places. Those who were awake enough for Saturday evening's birding were treated to displaying woodcocks, a Barred Owl, and nighthawks overhead while practically standing at a single spot. And that nice side road in Blue Earth County by the gravel pit provided our list with Lark Sparrow, Bobolink, and a few other noteworthy things besides the tanager. 


Note: all species found in Brown County, except 21 "non-Brown" species....

- Renville (R - Sat. pm, briefly)

- Nicollet (N - Sat. pm & Sun. am, both briefly)

- Blue Earth (BE - Sun. am)

- Sibley (S - Sun. pm @ Sand L)

(species seen in these counties not indicated if also seen in Brown Couny)

Canada Goose

Trumpeter Swan      N

Wood Duck



Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Green-winged Teal      S

Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup


Hooded Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Ring-necked Pheasant

Wild Turkey

Common Loon

Pied-billed Grebe

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Turkey Vulture


Bald Eagle

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Virginia Rail      N


American Coot

Semipalmated Plover      BE, S


Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Greater Yellowlegs      BE

Willet      S

Lesser Yellowlegs

Ruddy Turnstone      S

Dunlin      BE,S

Least Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper      S

Pectoral Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper      BE, S

Short-billed Dowitcher      BE, S

Wilson's Snipe      N

American Woodcock

Wilson's Phalarope

Franklin's Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Black Tern

Common Tern

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

Barred Owl

Common Nighthawk

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

American Kestrel

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher

Eastern Kingbird

Yellow-throated Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Bank Swallow      BE

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird      R, N, BE

Swainson's Thrush

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

European Starling

American Pipit      BE

Cedar Waxwing      N


Northern Waterthrush

Golden-winged Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

American Redstart

Cape May Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Palm Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Eastern Towhee

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow      BE

Lark Sparrow      BE

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Summer Tanager      BE

Scarlet Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting

Bobolink      BE

Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark      BE

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Orchard Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

House Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

*          *          *

Minnesota River Valley MBW / April 29-30, 2006

As a group we were able to observe 96 species including the Western Tanager which was number 342 for the Minnesota Birding Weekend composite list! Thanks go to Ron for that wonderful find. With Brooke's help, we were able to get everyone a look at another hard-to-find bird in Minnesota, the Louisiana Waterthrush. Both birds were observed at the Williams Nature Center, a location that has produced many other unusual species over the years. Our miss on the Eurasian Collared-Doves was made a little easier to take after we were able to find so many birds in and around the grain storage area on the south side of Comfrey. The heavy rain did keep us from birding at the Sleepy Eye sewage ponds, which usually have a large variety of waterfowl and sometimes shorebirds, but I think we more than made up for that with the birds we were able to observe at Round Lake in Renville County.

                                                                                            - Craig Mandel


Blue Earth County = Blu

Brown County = Bro

Cottonwood County = Cot

Nicollet County = Nic

Renville County = Ren

Watonwan County = Wat

Canada Goose - Bro, Nic, Ren, Blu

Trumpeter Swan - Bro, Nic

Wood Duck - Bro, Blu

Gadwall - Bro, Nic, Blu

Mallard - Bro, Ren, Blu

Blue-winged Teal -Bro, Nic, Ren, Blu

Northern Shoveler -Bro, Blu

Green-winged Teal - Bro, Blu

Redhead - Bro, Nic, Ren

Ring-necked Duck - Bro, Ren

Lesser Scaup - Bro, Ren, Blu

Bufflehead - Ren

Hooded Merganser - Nic

Red-breasted Merganser - Ren

Ruddy Duck - Bro, Ren, Blu

Ring-necked Pheasant - Bro, Nic, Ren, Blu

Wild Turkey - Bro, Nic, Ren

Pied-billed Grebe - Bro, Nic, Ren, Blu

Red-necked Grebe - Bro, Ren, Blu

Eared Grebe - Ren

American White Pelican - Bro, Nic, Ren, Blu

Double-crested Cormorant - Bro, Blu

Great Blue Heron - Bro, Blu

Great Egret - Bro, Nic

Turkey Vulture - Blu

Osprey - Blu

Bald Eagle - Bro, Blu

Sharp-shinned Hawk - Nic

Red-tailed Hawk - Nic

American Kestrel - Blu

American Coot - Bro, Ren

Killdeer - Bro, Cot, Nic, Blu

Lesser Yellowlegs - Bro, Cot, Nic, Blu

Solitary Sandpiper - Bro, Cot, Nic

Spotted Sandpiper - Bro, Cot

Wilson's Snipe - Cot

American Woodcock - Nic

Bonaparte's Gull - Bro, Wat

Ring-billed Gull - Bro, Wat

Forster's Tern - Ren

Rock Pigeon - Bro, Cot

Morning Dove - Bro, Cot, Blu

Chimney Swift - Blu

Belted Kingfisher - Bro

Red-bellied Woodpecker - Bro

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - Blu

Downy Woodpecker - Bro, Nic, Blu

Northern Flicker - Bro, Blu

Eastern Phoebe - Bro

Blue Jay - Bro, Blu

American Crow - Bro, Ren, Blu

Horned Lark - Bro, Blu

Purple Martin - Bro

Tree Swallow - Bro, Ren, Blu

Northern Rough-winged Swallow - Bro

Bank Swallow - Bro, Blu

Cliff Swallow - Bro, Blu

Barn Swallow - Bro, Ren, Blu

Black-capped Chickadee - Bro, Blu

White-breasted Nuthatch - Bro, Blu

House Wren - Nic, Blu

Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Bro, Blu

Eastern Bluebird - Bro, Blu

Hermit Thrush - Bro

American Robin - Bro, Blu

Brown Thrasher - Bro, Blu

European Starling - Bro, Blu

American Pipit - Cot

Orange-crowned Warbler - Bro, Blu

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Bro, Blu

Palm Warbler - Bro, Blu

Black-and-white Warbler - Blu

Northern Waterthrush - Bro

Louisiana Waterthrush - Blu

Western Tanager - Blu

Chipping Sparrow - Bro, Cot, Blu

Clay-colored Sparrow - Bro

Field Sparrow - Nic, Blu

Vesper Sparrow - Bro, Blu

Savannah Sparrow - Bro, Wat

Song Sparrow - Bro, Nic, Ren, Blu

Lincoln's Sparrow - Cot

Swamp Sparrow - Bro, Cot

White-throated Sparrow - Bro, Cot, Nic, Ren, Blu

Harris's Sparrow - Bro, Cot, Nic, Ren, Blu

White-crowned Sparrow - Bro

Northern Cardinal - Bro, Blu

Red-winged Blackbird - Bro, Cot, Nic, Ren, Blu

Western Meadowlark - Bro

Yellow-headed Blackbird - Bro, Blu

Common Grackle - Bro, Cot, Blu

Brown-headed Cowbird - Bro, Nic, Ren, Blu

Purple Finch - Nic

House Finch - Bro, Cot, Blu

American Goldfinch - Nic, Ren, Blu

House Sparrow - Bro, Cot, Blu

Note that the first two MBWs were in mid-May and included

several spring migrants that may not be in early enough for

the 2024 MBWs. The 2008 MBW matches the 2024 dates more closely.



May 12-13 MBW I  ~  May 13 pre-MBW  ~  May 14-15 MBW II

*          *          *


May 10-11, 2014

MBW I (May 12-13)

The cool weather during this MBW and the rain on Friday made for some challenging birding. But we were able to relocate the lingering Greater White-fronted Geese at Eggert Lake, had great looks at the Black-billed Cuckoo at Williams Nature Center, and were able to find 18 species of warbler over the two days.  


Some pre-trip scouting by Katie, Julie, Susan F, and Steve helped us find the Mute Swan, Virginia Rail, Sora, Prothonotary Warbler, and a mix of shorebirds and waterfowl. Our stop to watch Purple Martins being fed scrambled eggs was entertaining, as were all the roundabouts on our wayward way to Williams Nature Center. Of the 129 species observed on MBW I, the highlight for me was the American Bittern observed from the Nicollet Conservation Club.  

–Craig Mandel

Pre-MBW (May 13) & MBW II (May 14-15)

As Craig noted above, the weather during much of our time along the Minnesota River Valley made things difficult, especially on Friday when it rained almost all morning, and temperatures that windy afternoon never rose higher than the mid-40s. But at the least the wooded trail where the group met before it started raining yielded the Prothonotary Warbler (maybe two) found by the MBW I group, along with 6 other Nicollet-County species not seen during the rest of the day in Le Sueur Co. The rain started soon after we crossed the county line and birded the Kasota area, where we found the SNA bordered by new f**cking sand mining operations. Still, there were Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, a heard-only Upland Sandpiper, and the woods nearby held a singing but uncooperative Canada Warbler. (The truncated word above is “fracking”, by the way.) After lunch, we found a modest raptor movement as skies temporarily brightened north of Le Sueur, along with a couple of Lark Sparrows and a pair of Sandhill Cranes. Following a tip from Craig, we then headed east away from the river where late Gr. White-fronted Geese, Stilt Sandpiper, Dunlin, and other water birds were waiting for us.

At least it didn’t rain on Saturday, but the NW winds were worse than on Friday and it seemed just as cold. But the birding behind the History Center was still good as we listed our only Gray-cheeked Thrush and Orange-crowned Warbler of MBW II. Next we birded along both sides of the river at Judson Bottom Rd, Williams Nature Center, and Minneopa State Park, where we found 2 Olive-sided Flycatchers, Philadelphia Vireo, and more warblers (we listed 17 species that day), including a Blue-winged – which demonstrated that the mythical Junior Tour Leader Merit Badge really does exist. Back in Nicollet Co we found Franklin’s and Bonaparte’s gulls (1 each) at the Nicollet sewage ponds, and the Mute Swan found by Craig’s group was still among some Trumpeters along Hwy 111. (There had been only two previous Mute Swan records ever on MBWs, as this became the last Regular Minnesota species added to the MBWeekend composite list.) The day ended after dinner for some of us back in the Kasota area as we heard Wood Thrush and serenading Great Horned Owls, saw migrating nighthawks, and spotlighted a displaying woodcock.

Though we had to scrape ice off our car windshields at dawn on Sunday, the weather eventually seemed more May-like as the winds died down and it reached 60+ degrees in the afternoon. We elected to pass on birding the New Ulm area and headed east instead for the Cannon River Wilderness in Rice Co where a Worm-eating Warbler was found on Saturday. But, alas, no one – including our MBW group – ever relocated it. Still, we added a few more warblers to our list, and we decided to finish the morning farther east at Lake Byllesby. En route, a brief stop at the Carleton Arboretum turned up a Lark Sparrow, and at Byllesby there were 9 shorebird species, including Semipalmated Plovers, Pectoral, Short-billed Dowitchers, Wilson’s Phalarope, plus some American Pipits. Half the group then had enough time after lunch to stop at Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis, and the staked-out Yellow-throated Warbler became warbler species #20 on MBW II (and #21 for the entire MBWeekend).

In all over the four days, we came up with an unexpected composite total of 158 species. This number was especially surprising considering the weather often made it difficult to bird, that we found no fall-out of warblers and other migrants, and there was only a modest variety (13 species) of shorebirds. (And it would be tempting to consider that lost Little Blue Heron in Duluth as species #159 – after all, the Lokens and I saw it early Sunday evening when we got home….)

–Kim Eckert

BIRD LIST (composite total = 158 species)

I = found on May 12-13 MBW I (129 species)

pre = found on May 13 pre-MBW (96 species)

II =  found on May 14-15 MBW II (127 species)

Greater White-fronted Goose     I, pre

Canada Goose     I, pre, II

Mute Swan     I, II

Trumpeter Swan     I, II

Wood Duck     I, II

Gadwall     II

Mallard     I, pre, II

Blue-winged Teal     I, pre, II

Northern Shoveler     I, pre, II

Canvasback     pre

Redhead     I, pre, II

Ring-necked Duck     I, pre

Lesser Scaup     I, pre, II

Bufflehead     II

Hooded Merganser     I, pre, II

Ruddy Duck     I, pre, II

Ring-necked Pheasant     I, II

Wild Turkey     I, pre, II

Common Loon     I

Pied-billed Grebe     I, pre

Double-crested Cormorant     I, pre, II

American White Pelican     I, pre

American Bittern     I

Great Blue Heron     I, pre, II

Great Egret     I

Turkey Vulture     I, pre, II

Osprey     I, pre

Bald Eagle     I, pre, II

Northern Harrier     II

Sharp-shinned Hawk     I

Cooper's Hawk     pre, II

Broad-winged Hawk     II

Red-tailed Hawk     I, pre, II

Virginia Rail     I

Sora     I

American Coot     I

Sandhill Crane     pre, II

Semipalmated Plover     I, II

Killdeer     I, pre, II

Spotted Sandpiper     I, pre, II

Lesser Yellowlegs     I, pre, II

Upland Sandpiper     pre

Stilt Sandpiper     I, pre

Dunlin     I, pre, II

Least Sandpiper     I, pre, II

Pectoral Sandpiper     II

Short-billed Dowitcher     II

Wilson's Snipe     I

American Woodcock     II

Wilson's Phalarope     II

Bonaparte's Gull     II

Franklin's Gull     II

Ring-billed Gull     I, pre, II

Caspian Tern     I

Black Tern     I, pre

Forster's Tern     I, II

Rock Pigeon     I, pre, II

Eurasian Collared-Dove     I, pre, II

Mourning Dove     I, pre, II

Black-billed Cuckoo     I

Great Horned Owl     II

Common Nighthawk     II

Chimney Swift     I, II

Ruby-throated Hummingbird     I, II

Belted Kingfisher     I, pre, II

Red-bellied Woodpecker     I, pre, II

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker     I, pre, II

Downy Woodpecker     I, pre, II

Hairy Woodpecker     I, pre, II

Northern Flicker     I, pre, II

Pileated Woodpecker     I, II

American Kestrel     I, II

Merlin     pre

Olive-sided Flycatcher     pre, II

Least Flycatcher     I, pre, II

Eastern Phoebe     I, pre, II

Great Crested Flycatcher     I, pre, II

Eastern Kingbird     I, pre, II

Yellow-throated Vireo     I, II

Blue-headed Vireo     I, II

Warbling Vireo     I, pre, II

Philadelphia Vireo     I, II

Red-eyed Vireo     pre, II

Blue Jay     I, pre, II

American Crow     I, pre, II

Horned Lark     II

Purple Martin     I

Tree Swallow     I, pre, II

Northern Rough-winged Swallow     I, II

Bank Swallow     I, pre, II

Cliff Swallow     I, II

Barn Swallow     I, pre, II

Black-capped Chickadee     I, pre, II

White-breasted Nuthatch     I, pre, II

House Wren     I, pre, II

Marsh Wren     I

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher     I, pre, II

Ruby-crowned Kinglet     I, pre, II

Eastern Bluebird     I, pre, II

Veery     I

Gray-cheeked Thrush     I, II

Swainson's Thrush     I, II

Wood Thrush     I, pre, II

American Robin     I, pre, II

Gray Catbird     I, pre, II

Brown Thrasher     I, II

European Starling     I, pre, II

American Pipit     II

Cedar Waxwing     I, pre

Ovenbird     I, II

Northern Waterthrush     I, pre, II

Golden-winged Warbler     II

Blue-winged Warbler     I, II

Black-and-white Warbler     I, II

Prothonotary Warbler     I, pre, II

Tennessee Warbler     I, pre, II

Orange-crowned Warbler     I, II

Nashville Warbler     I, pre, II

Common Yellowthroat     I, pre, II

American Redstart     I, pre, II

Magnolia Warbler     I, II

Blackburnian Warbler     I, II

Yellow Warbler     I, pre, II

Chestnut-sided Warbler     I, II

Blackpoll Warbler     I, pre, II

Palm Warbler     I, pre, II

Yellow-rumped Warbler     I, pre, II

Yellow-throated Warbler     II

Canada Warbler     pre

Wilson's Warbler     I, pre, II

Eastern Towhee     I, II

Chipping Sparrow     I, pre, II

Clay-colored Sparrow     I, II

Field Sparrow     I, pre, II

Vesper Sparrow     I, pre

Lark Sparrow     pre, II

Savannah Sparrow     I

Song Sparrow     I, pre, II

Lincoln's Sparrow     II

Swamp Sparrow     I

White-throated Sparrow     I, pre, II

Scarlet Tanager     I, pre, II

Northern Cardinal     I, pre, II

Rose-breasted Grosbeak     I, pre, II

Indigo Bunting     I, II

Bobolink     pre

Red-winged Blackbird     I, pre, II

Eastern Meadowlark     I, pre, II

Yellow-headed Blackbird     I, pre, II

Brewer's Blackbird     II

Common Grackle     I, pre, II

Brown-headed Cowbird     I, pre, II

Orchard Oriole     I

Baltimore Oriole     I, pre, II

House Finch     I, pre, II

Pine Siskin     pre

American Goldfinch     I, pre, II

House Sparrow     I, pre, II