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 363 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.


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REMAINING MBWEEKENDS ON THE 2018-19 SCHEDULE



January 5 - 6, 2019  ~  Winter Duluth I

•  $40 ~ Base Duluth  •


Despite the cold, this popular 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, both crossbills, both 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 maybe a Townsend's Solitaire or Varied Thrush or even a Boreal Owl lurking in someone's back yard.


January 7 (Monday), 2019 post-MBW  ~  Winter Duluth II

•  $20 ~ Base Duluth  •


Because some of Minnesota's winter specialties are so highly sought and often difficult to find, and since a snowfall or extreme cold could negatively impact our travel and birding plans, this extra day should be useful. The itinerary will depend on how we did on the two previous days – i.e., searching for any key species that might have eluded us earlier (and those less cooperative ones we'd like to see better), or covering some of the birding areas we might not have had enough time for on Saturday-Sunday.


STATUS as of 3 DECEMBER 2018:

Winter Duluth I MBW  –  1 VACANCY

Winter Duluth II post-MBW  –  FILLED  /  1 on Waiting List


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January 11 - 12 (Friday-Saturday), 2019  ~  Winter Duluth III

•  $40 ~ Base Duluth ~ Leader Craig Mandel  •


January 13 (Sunday), 2019 post-MBW  ~  Winter IV Duluth

•  $20 ~ Base Duluth ~ Leader Craig Mandel  •


See the descriptions of this MBWeekend and post-MBW in the January 5-6 and January 7 listings above.


STATUS as of 3 DECEMBER 2018:

Winter Duluth III MBW  –  1 VACANCY

Winter Duluth IV post-MBW  –  2 VACANCIES



2019 - 2020 MINNESOTA BIRDING WEEKENDS











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.

Please see the MBW Registration Page for more information.


The leader for each MBWeekend will be Kim Eckert, except as noted.


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April 19, 2019 pre-MBW  ~  Grant County

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $20 ~ Base Fergus Falls  •


The Grant County pre-MBW will be a nice complement to the main MBW, since it includes many more wetlands and considerably more woodlands than the Rothsay area. North Ottawa impoundment, of course, has become especially famous as it attracts waders, shorebirds, and other water birds, while wooded Pine Ridge County Park and Pomme de Terre Lake are often good for migrants, and there could even be a stray Snowy Egret or White-faced Ibis around.


Status as of 3 December:  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15; 3 on Waiting List

(see NOTE above on possibility of additional leader or extra MBW)

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April 20 - 21, 2019  ~  Rothsay W.M.A.

(Wilkin - w. Otter Tail Co's)

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $40 ~ Base Fergus Falls  •


During late April, booming prairie-chickens, Sandhill Cranes, Swainson's Hawks, territorial Upland Sandpipers and Marbled Godwits, a Short-eared Owl at dusk, breeding-plumaged longspurs (with possibly Smith's among them?), and lots of sparrows and blackbirds could all be found at Rothsay W.M.A. or another nearby Glacial Lake Agassiz prairie tract. This area's wetlands will have some migrant waterfowl, especially in adjacent Otter Tail Co., and maybe even something like a Long-billed Curlew, Ferruginous Hawk, Burrowing Owl, Mountain Bluebird,  or other rarity wandering in from the Dakotas could turn up. (Years ago here, one MBW found literally hundreds of Smith's Longspurs – all pursued by two Prairie Falcons!)


Status as of 3 December:  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15; 3 on Waiting List

(see NOTE above on possibility of additional leader or extra MBW)


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May 10, 2019 pre-MBW  ~  Minnesota River Valley I

(Brown County)

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $20 ~ Base New Ulm  •

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May 11 - 12, 2019  ~  Minnesota River Valley II

(Renville - Redwood Co's)

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $40 ~ Base Redwood Falls  •


Weather permitting, the migration of warblers could be near its peak here in mid-May, and accordingly we will bird our way along the Minnesota River Valley between New Ulm and Granite Falls and hope for waves of passerines (one May MBW here had a one-day total of 22 warblers; two other MBWs turned up Summer Tanager). This fascinating riparian corridor of granite outcrops, grasslands, and juniper groves attracts western strays, while at the same time its woodlands host southeastern specialties: e.g., Red-shouldered Hawk, Eastern Whip-poor- will, Acadian Flycatcher, Tufted Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Wood Thrush, Eastern Towhee, and warblers like Cerulean, Blue-winged, Prothonotary, and Louisiana Waterthrush.


Status as of 3 December:

MN River Valley I  ~  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15; 7 on Waiting List

MN River Valley II  ~  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15; 16 on Waiting List

(see NOTE above on possibility of additional leader or extra MBW)  


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May 24, 2019 pre-MBW  ~  Jackson County

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $20 ~ Base Jackson  •


Jackson County has been the focus of MBWs in May only twice before, when migrants and residents alike should be present: water birds around historic Heron Lake and in the wetllands along the Iowa border, and passerines in Kilen Woods State Park and the riparian woods on the Des Moines River. Pioneering Great-tailed Grackles got their start here, and recent records include Magnificent Frigatebird (!), Brown Pelican, Western Wood-Pewee, and Lazuli Bunting.


Status as of 3 December:  8 VACANCIES / 14 confirmed / limit 22; 0 on Waiting List

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May 25 - 26 - 27, 2019  ~  Southwestern Minnesota

(Pipestone - Rock - Nobles Co's)

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $60 ~ Base Luverne  •


The unique topography of Sioux quartzite outcrops and escarpments at Blue Mounds State Park and Pipestone National Monument, the hillside grasslands of the Coteau des Prairies landscape, Blue Grosbeaks singing at the periphery of their range, an exciting history of vagrants from the Southwest – all this and more promise to provide a memorable three-day MBW in this far corner of the state. Besides Blue Grosbeaks, some of the summer residents may include Gray Partridge, Least Bittern, Swainson's Hawk, Upland Sandpiper, Yellow-billed and Black-billed cuckoos, Eastern Screech-Owl, Willow Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Sedge Wren, Grasshopper and Henslow's sparrows, Dickcissel, Orchard Oriole, and possibly some Great-tailed Grackles. In addition, our itinerary will include an assortment of Nobles County wetlands (Rock and Pipestone Co's are devoid of natural wetlands), there are excellent sewage ponds for shorebirds in all 3 counties, some passerines and other late spring migrants will still be passing through – and, again, there is no better place in the state to hope and look for strays


Status as of 3 December:  5 VACANCIES / 17 confirmed / limit 22; 0 on Waiting List


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August 30, 2019 pre-MBW  ~  Lake of the Woods I

(Beltrami Island State Forest)

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $20 ~ Base Baudette  •


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 3 December:  FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22; 4 on Waiting List

(see NOTE above on possibility of additional leader or extra MBW)

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August 31 - September 1 - 2, 2019  ~  Lake of the Woods II

(Roseau - Lake of the Woods Co's)

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $60 ~ Base Baudette  •


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 3 December:  FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22; 6 on Waiting List

(see NOTE above on possibility of additional leader or extra MBW)  


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September 20, 2019 pre-MBW  ~  Minnesota River Valley III

(Le Sueur County)

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $20 ~ Base Mankato ~ Leader Craig Mandel  •

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September 21 - 22, 2019  ~  Minnesota River Valley IV

(Nicollet - Blue Earth Co's)

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $40 ~ Base Mankato ~ Leader Craig Mandel  •


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 3 December:

MN River Valley III  ~  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15; 4 on Waiting List

MN River Valley IV  ~  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15; 3 on Waiting List

(see NOTE above on possibility of additional leader or extra MBW)  


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October 11, 2019 pre-MBW  ~  Iowa Border I

(Mower - Freeborn Co's)

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $20 ~ Base Austin  •

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October 12-13, 2019  ~  Iowa Border II

(Faribault - Martin Co's)

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $40 ~ Base Fairmont  •


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 3 December:

Iowa Border I  ~  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15; 9 on Waiting List

Iowa Border II  ~  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15; 9 on Waiting List

(see NOTE above on possibility of additional leader or extra MBW)  


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October 31 - November 1, 2019  ~  North Shore I

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $40 ~ Base Duluth & Grand Marais  •


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 3 December:  1 VACANCY / 14 confirmed / limit 15; 0 on Waiting List

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November 2 - 3, 2019  ~  North Shore II

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $40 ~ Base Duluth & Grand Marais  •


See North Shore I MBW above for a description of North Shore II.  


Status as of 3 December:  5 VACANCIES / 17 confirmed / limit 22; 0 on Waiting List


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January 10, 2020 pre-MBW  ~  Duluth I

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $20 ~ Base Duluth  •


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 3 December:  7 VACANCIES / 8 confirmed / limit 15; 0 on Waiting List

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January 11 - 12, 2020  ~  Duluth II

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $40 ~ Base Duluth  •


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 3 December:  13 VACANCIES / 9 confirmed / limit 22; 0 on Waiting List

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January 13, 2020 post-MBW  ~  Duluth III

~ CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBW ~

•  $20 ~ Base Duluth  •


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 3 December:  14 VACANCIES / 1 confirmed / limit 15; 0 on Waiting List






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NOTE THAT THE REGISTRATION PROCEDURE FOR ALL MBWs

HAS BEEN REVISED FOR THE 2019 - 2020 SEASON



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Although most MBWs filled during the first week of registrations,

PLEASE NOTE it may be possible to schedule an additional leader

or extra MBWeekend to accommodate extra persons for some MBWs

which are filled with long waiting lists. These will be posted

in later updates of this website as they occur.