MINNESOTA  BIRDING  WEEKENDS


APRIL 2020 - JANUARY 2021

~  Our 35th Season  ~



Mound Spring Prairie SNA, Yellow Medicine Co.



Minnesota Birding Weekends & Weeks (MBW) now enters its 35th 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 34 years, we have now had a total of more than 420 MBWeekends, 8,150 registrations, and a composite list of 366 species seen in Minnesota.


MBW Weekend fees continue to be as modest as they always have been, and this season all are again set 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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FINAL MBWEEKEND OF 2019-20 SEASON


January 10 - 11 - 12, 2020 Winter Duluth

CLICK HERE FOR  SUMMARY OF THIS MBWEEKEND


2020 - 2021 MINNESOTA BIRDING WEEKENDS


PLEASE NOTE that additional leaders or extra MBWs

might be scheduled for pre-MBWs and MBWeekends with long waiting lists,

and these will be posted as they occur in future updates of this website.

(Also note that some pre-MBWs and MBWeekends have already become filled – see below.)


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 on-line; for more information,

see https://www.zellepay.com  and the MBW Registration Page .


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



MBWEEKENDS SCHEDULE  ~  APRIL 2020 - JANUARY 2021



April 3, 2020 pre-MBW  ~  Fillmore County

•  $20 ~ Base Spring Valley ~ Leader Craig Mandel  •

  

With birders spending more time in adjacent Houston County, Fillmore's excellent woodlands and picturesque valleys tend to receive relatively little attention. But many southeastern specialties will also be possible on this pre-MBW, as we explore the extensive wooded valleys at Forestville State Park, Eagle Bluff, and along the Root River near Lanesboro, plus the interesting mix of gravel pit ponds and grasslands around Spring Valley, and the unique Kappers' Ponds wetlands.


Status as of 14 January 2020:  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15 / 4 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or pre-MBW)

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April 4 - 5, 2020  ~  Houston County

CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBWEEKEND

•  $40 ~ Base La Crosse, WI ~ Leader Craig Mandel  •


For those anxious for the arrival of early spring migrants (and who isn't by April?), one of the best areas for the widest assortment of both water and woods birds would be in the vast woodlands and backwaters of the Mississippi River Valley down in Houston County. Flocks of Tundra Swans (possibly in the thousands), an assortment of other northbound waterfowl, and Bald Eagles (often

by the hundreds) should be concentrated in the Mississippi and its backwaters. The first raptors, sparrows, blackbirds, and other spring migrants should be arriving as well, and we will roam the endless wooded valleys away from the river for such specialties as Wild Turkeys, Red-shouldered Hawks, wintering/migrant Golden Eagles, Tufted Titmouse, and perhaps even a Carolina Wren.


Status as of 14 January 2020:  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15 / 4 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or MBWeekend)



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May 8, 2020 pre-MBW  ~  Murray County

CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF SIMILAR MBWEEKENDS

•  $20 ~ Base Slayton  •

  

Murray is another one of those under-birded counties, as birders tend to spend more time in other adjacent counties – thus all the more reason to consider this pre-MBW. Here we'll explore extensive woodlands at Lake Shetek State Park, Coteau des Prairies hillsides around Chandler, and numerous wetlands throughout the county. Weather permitting, spring migration might well be at its peak – and note Murray Co's recent Tricolored Heron, Great-tailed Grackle, and Blue Grosbeak records.


Status as of 14 January 2020: FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15 / 9 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or pre-MBW)

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May 9 - 10, 2020  ~  Lyon & Lincoln Counties

CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF SIMILAR MBWEEKENDS

•  $40 ~ Base Marshall  •


Although we've often been to these counties in fall, this will be our first May MBW here. There are numerous wetlands, grasslands, and woodlands – Black Rush Lake, Coon Creek WMA, Camden State Park, Garvin and Hole-in-the-Mountain county parks, and the fascinating Coteau des Prairies hillsides near Lake Benton – all providing potential for migrants of all kinds. We'll look especially for raptors (perhaps a Golden Eagle or Prairie Falcon among them?), shorebirds, gulls (we've seen Sabine's in fall), longspurs (including Smith's on occasion), and sparrows (possibly 15 species – with Spotted Towhee, several LeConte's, and even Nelson's among them). Rarities and strays from the Dakotas are always possible as well as we bird along this western edge of Minnesota.


Status as of 14 January 2020:  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15 / 14 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or MBWeekend)



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May 22, 2020 pre-MBW  ~  Big Stone County

•  $20 ~ Base Ortonville  •

  

Our first of four days in the upper Minnesota River Valley will focus on Big Stone County's portion of this valley, which includes Big Stone Lake and the north side of Marsh Lake and Big Stone NWR. There are other numerous wetlands as well, including Thielke and Artichoke lakes, and note that many dozens of this county's prairie potholes are still intact and attractive to water birds. We'll also check the woodlands along Big Stone Lake and the prairie hillsides overlooking the lake.


Status as of 14 January 2020:  FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22 / 1 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or pre-MBW)

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May 23 - 24 - 25, 2020  ~  Lac Qui Parle

CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF SIMILAR MBWEEKENDS

•  $60 ~ Base Montevideo  •


What better place to bird in May than out in western Minnesota, where almost anything seems possible in the fascinating Minnesota River Valley and vicinity, especially in the Lac Qui Parle region. Although there have been many MBWs here, concentrating especially on Lac Qui Parle County, this will be our first over the long Memorial Day Weekend. This will provide time to bird the less familiar parts of Swift and Chippewa counties away from the river – so take note county listers! Of course, we'll concentrate on Big Stone NWR., Marsh and Lac Qui Parle lakes, plus all those meadows, juniper groves, rocky pastures, and woodlands along the river. Here and elsewhere (e.g.,

at renowned Salt Lake) we should see lots of both migrants and breeding species, including shorebirds, herons/egrets, raptors, sparrows, and other passerines (warblers might even be at their peak if it's a late spring). Almost any stray from the Dakotas would seem right at home in this landscape – witness the Townsend's Warbler we found in a dense juniper grove in May 2017!


Status as of 14 January 2020:  FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22 / 3 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or MBWeekend)



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July 17, 2020 pre-MBW  ~  North Ottawa Impoundment, Grant Co.

•  $20 ~ Base Fergus Falls ~ Leader Craig Mandel  •

  

Previous MBWs have visited this flood-control impoundment during migration, but this will be our first in summer. This relatively new birding site is considered one of the best (if not the best) in all of western Minnesota for waterfowl, shorebirds (which do migrate in July), herons/egrets, and other water birds. Recent records here inlude a whistling-duck, King Rail, just about every shorebird on the Regular and Casual lists, Glossy Ibis, Prairie Falcon, Nelson's Sparrow, and other rarities.     


Status as of 14 January 2020:  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15 / 7 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or pre-MBW)

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July 18 - 19, 2020  ~  Otter Tail County

•  $40 ~ Base Fergus Falls ~ Leader Craig Mandel  •


Many MBWs over the years have been based in Fergus Falls as we visit places in nearby Wilkin and Grant counties, but at the same time we tend to limit our Otter Tail Co. birding to a couple sites in and around "Ferg." This neglect is especially the case in summer, even though the county has a wide assortment of breeding birds in its many wetlands, woods, and grasslands. And the interesting and wide mix of habitats in the eastern two-thirds of Otter Tail have never been the focus of any MBW. Among the places we'll explore are Maplewood (for Acadian Flycatcher and other southeast forest passerines) and Glendalough state parks, Orwell and many other WMAs, its sewage ponds (there are 15 of them!), and note especially that Otter Tail is known as the county of 1,000 lakes.  


Status as of 14 January 2020:  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15 / 5 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or MBWeekend)



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September 4, 2020 pre-MBW  ~  Kittson County

•  $20 ~ Base Hallock  •

  

This remote county may not receive as much attention as adjacent Roseau and Marshall counties, so all the more reason for scheduling this pre-MBW – especially if you're into county listing. Some of this county's premier sites include Twin Lakes WMA, Lake Bronson State Park, Larry Wilebski's unique birder-friendly property by the Canadian border, and some extensive and intriguing WMAs in northeast Kittson: Beaches Lake, Skull Lake, and Caribou (where even some Elk can be found).  


SStatus as of 14 January 2020:  FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22 / 2 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or pre-MBW)

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September 5 - 6 - 7, 2020  ~  Northwestern Minnesota

CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBWEEKEND

•  $60 ~ Base Thief River Falls  •


This will be our 17th consecutive Labor Day Weekend in this far corner of the state, and, with relatively little birding here in fall, the list of possibilities remains potentially long and refreshingly unpredictable. Some of our unexpected finds on this MBW have included both Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron together at Agassiz, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Little Gull (!), Prairie Falcon, Red Knot, Long-tailed Jaeger (!), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Nelson's Sparrow. As many as 25 shorebird species (including American Avocet, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and once a group of 145 Red-necked Phalaropes) and 20 warbler species have been seen on this MBW, along with Short-eared Owls, a group of 6 Black-backed Woodpeckers, Black-billed Magpies (once we counted 110 in a single flock), and LeConte's Sparrows. We can expect as many as 160-170 species as we visit sites in Marshall and northwestern Polk counties such as Agassiz NWR, Thief Lake WMA, Agassiz Audubon and other impoundments, plus the excellent Thief River Falls (and other) sewage ponds.


Status as of 14 January 2020:  FILLED / 22 confirmed / limit 22 / 4 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or MBWeekend)



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October 9, 2020  ~  Waseca County

CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARY OF A SIMILAR MBWEEKEND

•  $20 ~ Base Owatonna ~ Leader Craig Mandel  •


October 10, 2020  ~  Steele County

CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARY OF A SIMILAR MBWEEKEND

•  $20 ~ Base Owatonna ~ Leader Craig Mandel  •


October 11, 2020  ~  Dodge County

CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARY OF A SIMILAR MBWEEKEND

•  $20 ~ Base Owatonna ~ Leader Craig Mandel  •


Only a couple of MBWs have ever included any of these under-birded counties in south-central Minnesota, and usually that was only briefly or in passing. Most birders (and MBWs) tend to skip these counties in favor of others nearby, so your potential for new county birds is high. Accordingly, county listers, take note! These one-day MBWs (you can register for any one, two, or all three of them) will include forested Tollefson Woods, Rice Lake State Park, and Courthouse County Park; wetlands such as Moonan Marsh and Lake Elysian in Waseca Co.; and (of course) sewage ponds in all three counties. And remember, this will be October when almost anything seems possible: after all, Minnesota's first Garganey occurred  in Waseca Co., and the first Brambling was in Steele Co.!


Status as of 14 January 2020:


Waseca Co. – FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15 / 6 on Waiting List

SteeleCo. – FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15 / 6 on Waiting List

Status through 4 January 2020:  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15 / 7 on Waiting List


(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or MBWs)



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November 5 - 6, 2020  ~  North Shore I

CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBWEEKEND

•  $40 ~ Base Duluth & Grand Marais  •


See description of North Shore II below; both MBWeekends will have the same itinerary.


Status as of 14 January 2020:  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15 / 2 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or MBWeekend)



November 7 - 8, 2020  ~  North Shore II

CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBWEEKEND

•  $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 (a 25+ year tradition): Long-

tailed and perhaps Harlequin ducks, all three scoters, "un-Common" loons, Iceland or Glaucous gull, roosting Long-eared or N. Saw-whet owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, a Mountain Bluebird and/or Townsend's Solitaire (3 of each in 2017), Bohemian Waxwing, and any of the winter finches.


Status as of 14 January 2020:  6 VACANCIES / 9 confirmed / limit 15



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January 8, 2021 pre-MBW  ~  Duluth I

•  $20 ~ Base Duluth  •

  

Because some of Minnesota's winter specialties are so highly sought and tend to be difficult to find, and since heavy snow or extreme cold could impact our travel and birding plans on Saturday-Sunday, this extra day will probably add some key species to the list. The itinerary will concentrate on finding any birds that look like they could be elusive on the main MBW, or we may choose to check some of the birding areas we may not have time to include on the main Saturday-Sunday MBWeekend.


Status as of 14 January 2020:  1 VACANCY / 14 confirmed / limit 15

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January 9 - 10, 2021  ~  Duluth II

CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS SUMMARIES OF THIS MBWEEKEND

•  $40 ~ Base Duluth  •


Despite the weather, this MBW tradition continues with so many possibilities to begin one's year list: e.g., Sharp-tailed Grouse, northern owls (especially Great Gray, Northern Hawk, and Snowy), Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing, grosbeaks, crossbills, redpolls, and more. Of course, we'll also hope for the unexpected: perhaps a Harlequin or some other rare duck (like both Tufted Duck and King Eider in 2019, or a Common Eider as in 2015) or an unusual gull (like 2016's Ivory Gull) on the lakefront, a Gyrfalcon in pursuit of pigeons in the harbor, Spruce Grouse or Am. Three-toed Woodpecker in a 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 14 January 2020:  FILLED / 15 confirmed / limit 15 / 1 on Waiting List

(See note above on the possibility of scheduling an additional leader or MBWeekend)


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