MINNESOTA BIRDING WEEKENDS
APRIL 2019 - JANUARY 2020
~ Our 34th Season ~
Eckert Lake, Pope County
Grand Marais, Cook County
Minnesota Birding Weekends & Weeks (MBW) now enters its 34th season and continues to offer unique, modestly priced birding trips in association with the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union (we originated back in 1986 as MOU Birding Weekends). After 33 years, we have now had a total of more than 400 MBWeekends, nearly 8,000 registrations, and a composite list of 365 species seen within the state.
MBW Weekend fees continue to be as modest as they always have been, and this season all are again priced at $20/day if pre-paid (e.g., a standard Friday pre-MBW plus Saturday-Sunday MBWeekend is $60). As a result of this new continuing price structure, some MBWeekend fees are even lower than in previous seasons.
In addition to our selection of MBWeekends, the schedule of out-of-state MBWeeks will continue; please visit the MBWEEKS page on this website for further information on these.
* * *
2019 - 2020 MINNESOTA BIRDING WEEKENDS
PLEASE NOTE that additional leaders or extra MBWs
may be scheduled for MBWeekends with long waiting lists,
and these will be posted as they occur in future updates of this website.
ALSO NOTE that the Iowa Border MBW has been rescheduled and will now be
4 separate one-day trips: October 11, 12, 13, and 14 – i.e., one day for each county.
Other changes in this schedule are possible (e.g. – dates, leaders, base cities),
and these will also be posted on later updates of this website.
The fees listed below are PRE-PAID amounts (payable after
the MBW details are sent, about a month before the MBW);
fees paid on the day of the MBW are $5/day more.
Payments for deposits and fees are now accepted by check or on-line; see
The leader for each MBWeekend will be Kim Eckert, except as noted.
April 19, 2019 pre-MBW ~ Grant County
April 20 - 21, 2019 ~ Rothsay W.M.A.
May 10, 2019 pre-MBW ~ Minnesota River Valley I
May 11 - 12, 2019 ~ Minnesota River Valley II
May 24, 2019 pre-MBW ~ Jackson County
May 25 - 26 - 27, 2019 ~ Southwestern Minnesota
* * *
The vast Beltrami Island State Forest offers the potential to add several boreal forest specialties to the main MBW list, which will focus on migrants in other habitats. This vast forest includes a coniferous element of red and jack pines, white spruce, and tamaracks, so that residents like Spruce Grouse, Northern Goshawk, Great Gray Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker (or American Three-toed?), Canada Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Evening Grosbeak, or Red Crossbill are possible.
Status as of 30 May 2019: FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22; 3 on Waiting List
This will be our 16th consecutive Labor Day Weekend in the far northwestern part of the state, and this year's MBW will feature migrants along the Lake of the Woods shoreline (at Arnesen, Zippel Bay, and Morris Point), sites in central/eastern Roseau County (such as Roseau's city park, Warroad's waterfront and Springsteel Island on the lake, sewage ponds in Warroad and Roseau), and perhaps into Koochiching Co. a bit en route home on Monday. With relatively little birding here in fall, this MBW's list of possibilities is potentially long and refreshingly unpredictable. We can expect 150 species or so (170 is possible), and some of our rarer finds have included Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron together at Agassiz, Yellow-crowned Night- Heron and Little Gull (both in Warroad), Prairie Falcon, Long-tailed Jaeger (!), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (twice), and Mountain Bluebird. We've had 25 shorebirds (including American Avocet, Red Knot, and Buff-breasted Sandpiper) on one MBW, 20 warbler species on others, LeConte's and Nelson's sparrows, plus concentrations of Red-necked Phalaropes (145), Short- eared Owls (7+), Black-backed Woodpeckers (6+), and Black-billed Magpies (110).
Status as of 30 May 2019: FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22; 5 on Waiting List
While birders tend to visit this stretch of the Minnesota River Valley in spring, the birding here from Le Sueur through Mankato and beyond loses none of its appeal in fall. Its unique mix of granite outcrops, juniper groves, and native grasslands holds the potential for attracting strays from farther west. Meanwhile, weather permitting, the fall migration of warblers and other woods birds could be at its peak in mid-September in the riparian woodlands at such places as Minneopa State Park and Seven Mile Creek County Park. And, even if there are no western rarities around, we hope to turn up some "southeastern" specialties such as Tufted Titmouse, or perhaps a Bell's or White-eyed vireo, Carolina Wren, Prothonotary or Yellow-throated warbler.
Status as of 30 May 2019:
MN River Valley III ~ FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15; 3 on Waiting List
MN River Valley IV ~ FILLED / 14 confirmed / limit 15; 3 on Waiting List
(See NOTE above on the possibility for an additional leader or extra MBW.)
(PLEASE NOTE: THIS MBW HAS BEEN CHANGED TO 4 ONE-DAY TRIPS
ON OCTOBER 11, 12, 13, and 14, WITH ONE DAY IN EACH COUNTY)
Only a couple of previous MBWs have ever included any of these Iowa-adjecent counties – and usually that was only in passing. Accordingly, county listers, take note! The pre-MBW will concentrate more on eastern woods birds at places like Hormel Nature Center and Myre-Big Island State Park, but there several lakes and sewage ponds for shorebirds and other water birds as well. The main MBW has more grasslands and wetlands for western-type birds, and there is still woods birding potential at Walnut Lake WMA and in Cedar Creek Park's juniper thickets in Fairmont (maybe a roosting owl or Townsend's Solitaire). Remember, this will be in October when almost anything seems possible, including lots of additions to your county lists.
Status as of 30 May 2019:
Iowa Border I ~ FILLED / 21 confirmed / limit 22; 2 on Waiting List
Iowa Border II ~ FILLED / 21 confirmed / limit 22; 2 on Waiting List
Iowa Border III ~ FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22; 0 on Waiting List
Iowa Border IV ~ FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22; 0 on Waiting List
The unexpected is literally to be expected here each fall! Past November records include Brant, King Eider, Yellow-billed Loon, Purple Sandpiper, Black-legged Kittiwake, both Ancient and Long-billed murrelets, Inca Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Fieldfare, Sage Thrasher, our MBW's Black Guillemot in 2009, Cassin's Kingbird in 2012, two Common Eiders in 2014, Vermilion Flycatcher and White-eyed Vireo in 2015. More likely on this MBW (now a 25+ year tradition) are Long-tailed and perhaps Harlequin ducks, all three scoters, "un-
Common" loons, Iceland or Glaucous gull, Black-backed Woodpecker, Mountain Bluebird and Townsend's Solitaire (3 of each in 2017), Bohemian Waxwing flocks, and winter finches.
Status as of 30 May 2019: 3 VACANCIES / 19 confirmed / limit 22; 0 on Waiting List
See North Shore I MBW above for a description of North Shore II.
Status as of 30 May 2019: FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22; 4 on Waiting List
Because some of Minnesota's winter specialties are so highly sought and often difficult to find, and since heavy snow or extreme cold could impact our travel and birding plans, this extra day (and the post-MBW) should prove useful. The itinerary will concentrate on finding any birds that look to be (or were) elusive on the main MBW, or we may choose to cover some of the birding areas we normally don't have time to include on the main Saturday-Sunday MBW.
Status as of 30 May 2019: 1 VACANCY / 14 confirmed / limit 15; 0 on Waiting List
Despite the weather, this MBW tradition continues with so many possibilities to begin one's year list: Sharp-tailed Grouse, N. Goshawk, northern owls (especially Great Gray, Northern Hawk, and Snowy), Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing, Snow Bunting, grosbeaks, crossbills, redpolls, and more. Of course, we'll also hope for the unexpected: a Harlequin or some other rare duck (like 2015's Common Eider) or an unusual gull (like 2016's Ivory Gull) on the lake, a Gyrfalcon in pursuit of pigeons in the harbor, a Spruce Grouse or American Three-toed Woodpecker in a some remote spruce bog, or a Townsend's Solitaire or Varied Thrush or even a Boreal Owl lurking in someone's back yard.
Status as of 30 May 2019: FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22; 0 on Waiting List
See Duluth I pre-MBW above for a description of Duluth III. (Please note: some specialty birds and areas may only be included on the Saturday-Sunday MBW itinerary; accordingly, they may be missed by those who only register for the pre- or post-MBW.)
Status as of 30 May 2019: 6 VACANCIES / 9 confirmed / limit 15; 0 on Waiting List
* * *