November 3-4 and November 5-6, 2016

On this year’s two North Shore MBWs we produced similar results to last year. You'll see that again MBW II came up with a larger list: 66 species compared to the 49 on MBW I. But keep in mind that there were strong south winds on both days of the first MBW, and the first group had fewer pairs of eyes to spot things and stayed together in a single group, while MBW II had twice as many participants and was able to split up most of the time. Still, MBW I came up with 6 species which were not seen on the second MBW, including Red-bellied Woodpecker and Northern Shrike.

The earlier MBW also came up with several birds of interest that the latter group also saw: Cackling Goose, Black and White-winged scoters, Long-tailed Duck, Rough-legged Hawk, and that cooperative Northern Mockingbird in Two Harbors (first found by Jim Lind).

And among those seen only on MBW II were Northern Pintail, Surf Scoter, Red-throated Loon, both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned kinglets, Bohemian Waxwing, Red and White-winged crossbills, Common Redpoll, Western Meadowlark, and Rusty Blackbird.

I would like to thank Dave Benson for his help on the second MBW, so that we were able to locate a second Northern Mockingbird and all those species seen on the run up to the Lima Mountain Road on Sunday – including some close up looks at a Spruce Grouse. I would also like to thank Kim for his help in organizing the logistics and setting up the carpooling – some of which he managed to do all the way from New Zealand & Australia! I also thank all of the participants on both MBWs for joining us on this November traditional along the North Shore.

– Craig Mandel

BIRD LIST (composite list both MBWs = 70 species)

NS I = North Shore I MBW, November 3-4 (49 species)

NS II = North Shore II MBW, November 5-6 (66 species)

S = St Louis County

L = Lake Co County

C = Cook Co County

Cackling Goose          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Canada Goose          NS I (LC)     NS II (SLC)

American Black Duck          NS I (C)

Mallard          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Green-winged Teal          NS I (L)     NS II (L)

Northern Pintail          NS II

Redhead          NS I (L)      NS II (L)

Lesser Scaup          NS I (L)

Surf Scoter          NS II (LC)

White-winged Scoter          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Black Scoter          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Long-tailed Duck          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Bufflehead          NS I (SC)      NS II (C)

Common Goldeneye          NS I (C)     NS II (C)

Hooded Merganser          NS I (SL)    NS II (L)

Red-breasted Merganser          NS I (SC)     NS II (SLC)

Ruffed Grouse          NS I (C)     NS II (LC)

Spruce Grouse          NS II (C)

Horned Grebe          NS I (SLC)     NS II (L)

Red-necked Grebe          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Rock Pigeon          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Morning Dove          NS I (L)     NS II (L)

Wilson's Snipe          NS I (L)

Ring-billed Gull         NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Herring Gull          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Red-throated Loon          NS II (L)

Common Loon          NS I (LC)     NS II (LC)

Bald Eagle          NS I (SLC)     NS II (LC)

Red-tailed Hawk          NS II (L)

Rough-legged Hawk          NS I (L)     NS II (SLC)

(Boreal Owl - possibly heard by Jerry on NS II)

Red-bellied Woodpecker          NS I (C)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker          NS II (C)

Downy Woodpecker          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Hairy Woodpecker          NS I (SC)     NS II (LC)

Pileated Woodpecker          NS I (SLC)     NS II (LC)

Merlin          NS II (C)

Northern Shrike          NS I (LC)

Gray Jay           NS II (C)

Blue Jay          NS I (L)    NS II (LC)

American Crow          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Common Raven          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Horned Lark          NS I (C)     NS II (L)

Black-capped Chickadee          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Red-breasted Nuthatch          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

White-breasted Nuthatch          NS I (LC)     NS II (SLC)

Brown Creeper          NS II (C)

Golden-crowned Kinglet          NS II (S)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet          NS II (L)

American Robin          NS I (LC)     NS II (C)

Northern Mockingbird         NS I (L)     NS II (L)

European Starling          NS I (SL)     NS II (SLC)

Bohemian Waxwing          NS II (C)

Cedar Waxwing          NS II (SL)     NS II (L)

House Sparrow          NS I (SC)     NS II (SLC)

Purple Finch          NS II (LC)

Red Crossbill          NS II (C)

White-winged Crossbill          NS II (SC)

Common Redpoll          NS II (LC)

Pine Siskin          NS I (C)    NS II (LC)

American Goldfinch          NS I (C)     NS II (LC)

Lapland Longspur          NS II (L)

Snow Bunting          NS I (SLC)     NS II (SLC)

Yellow-rumped Warbler          NS I (SC)

American Tree Sparrow          NS I (C)     NS II (LC)

Dark-eyed Junco          NS I (L)     NS II (SLC)

Northern Cardinal          NS I (C)

Red-winged Blackbird          NS II (C)

Western Meadowlark          NS II (L)

Rusty Blackbird          NS II (L)

Common Grackle          NS I (S)     NS II (S)


November 2-3 and November 4-5, 2017

Needless to say, given the gallery of photos above and the array of species listed below, these back-to-back MBWeekends added up to four pretty eventful days up the North Shore of Lake Superior. In all, there was a composite total of 77 species (70 on MBW I; 60 on MBW II), with both MBWs finding such special birds as White-winged and Black scoters, Long-tailed Duck, a lone Ruddy Duck in Grand Marais (a real rarity in this part of the state), Red-throated Loon (also rare), Northern Shrike, Mountain Bluebird (rare anywhere in MN), Townsend’s Solitaire (another rarity), Bohemian Waxwing, Pine Grosbeak, Hoary Redpoll (among the Commons), and both Red and White-winged crossbills.

In addition to these, MBW I had some other unexpected birds, but unfortunately none of them stayed around for MBW II. A tip from Josh Watson gave us nice looks at a cooperative and totally out-of-place Spruce Grouse near Grand Marais off Hwy 61 – previous sightings of this species so close to Lake Superior are nearly unprecedented! Craig and part of the group spotted a Eurasian Collared-Dove (a first Cook County record!) in the Grand Marais campground, but it flew off after a couple of minutes and could not be relocated. A very late White-rumped Sandpiper lingered in the pond by the old MN DOT garage near Silver Bay, and we had a close side-by-side comparison of a Pacific Loon next to a Common near the McQuade Road harbor.

MBW I also had more reasonable weather than MBW II without any precipitation to speak of and with moderate W and N winds conducive to migration. There were many Rough-legged Hawks and several Snow Bunting flocks (with larks and longspurs among them) on the move, but most of these seemed to be gone by the time MBW II began – note that MBW II missed Lapland Longspur entirely. The earlier MBW also had 3 Mountain Bluebirds (in Two Harbors) and 3 Townsend’s Solitaires (2 in Knife River; 1 in Grand Marais), while the second MBW could find just one of each, which may have been due to the unpleasant weather.

Saturday’s weather on MBW II was especially uncooperative with some mixed precipitation at times, along with damp, cold winds off Lake Superior which made scanning the lake and just looking for land birds in general a challenge. Still, this latter MBW did come up with some birds missed on MBW I, including Cackling Geese and a Peregrine in Two Harbors, plus a Harris’s Sparrow at the feeders at Tettagouche. This weekend also found 2 Red-throated Loons (in Two Harbors, and between Stoney Point and French River), both of them closer than the lone Red-throated seen in Two Harbors on MBW I, and MBW II also had better looks at Hoary Redpolls and Red Crossbills.

Bird List

• I = found on Nov 2-3 MBW

• II = found on Nov 4-5 MBW

• S = St Louis County

• L = Lake Co County

• C = Cook County  

Cackling Goose      II L (not seen on MBW I)

Canada Goose        I LC; II L

American Wigeon        I C; II C

Mallard        I C; II C

American Black Duck        I C; II C

Green-winged Teal        I C; II C

Ring-necked Duck        I L (not seen on MBW II)

Lesser Scaup        I C; II C

White-winged Scoter        I C; II C

Black Scoter        I C; II C

Long-tailed Duck        I SC; II SC

Bufflehead      II C (not seen on MBW I)

Common Goldeneye        I C; II C

Hooded Merganser        I L (not seen on MBW II)

Common Merganser        I SC; II SC

Red-breasted Merganser        I LC; II LC

Ruddy Duck        I C; II C

Spruce Grouse        I C (not seen on MBW II)

Horned Grebe        I SL; II S

Red-necked Grebe        I LC; II C

Rock Pigeon        I LC; II LC

Eurasian Collared-Dove        I C (not seen on MBW II)

Mourning Dove        I LC; II C

White-rumped Sandpiper        I L (not seen on MBW II)

Ring-billed Gull        I SL; II L

Herring Gull        I SLC; II SLC

Red-throated Loon        I L; II SL

Pacific Loon        I S (not seen on MBW II)

Common Loon        I SC; II SLC

Bald Eagle        I SLC; II SLC

Sharp-shinned Hawk        I SLC (not seen on MBW II)

Red-tailed Hawk        I SLC; II SL

Rough-legged Hawk        I SLC; II SLC

Red-bellied Woodpecker      II C (not seen on MBW I)

Downy Woodpecker        I SC; II LC

Hairy Woodpecker        I SC; II LC

Pileated Woodpecker        I SLC; II C

Merlin      II S (not seen on MBW I)

Peregrine Falcon      II L (not seen on MBW I)

Northern Shrike        I LC; II LC

Blue Jay        I LC; II LC

American Crow        I SLC; II SLC

Common Raven        I SLC; II SLC

Horned Lark        I SLC; II SC

Black-capped Chickadee        I SLC; II SLC

Red-breasted Nuthatch        I SLC; II LC

White-breasted Nuthatch      II L (not seen on MBW I)

Golden-crowned Kinglet        I S; II C

Eastern Bluebird        I L (not seen on MBW II)

Mountain Bluebird        I L; II L

Townsend’s Solitaire        I LC; II L

Swainson’s Thrush        I L (not seen on MBW II)

American Robin        I SLC; II SLC

European Starling        I LC; II C

Bohemian Waxwing        I LC; II LC

House Sparrow        I SL (not seen on MBW II)

American Pipit        I SLC; II C

Pine Grosbeak        I LC; II LC

Purple Finch        I L (not seen on MBW II)

Common Redpoll        I SLC; II SLC

Hoary Redpoll        I LC; II SLC

Red Crossbill        I L; II L

White-winged Crossbill        I C; II LC

Pine Siskin        I SLC; II LC

Lapland Longspur        I SLC (not seen on MBW II)

Snow Bunting        I SLC; II SLC

American Tree Sparrow        I SLC; II SLC

Savannah Sparrow        I S (not seen on MBW II)

Song Sparrow        I LC (not seen on MBW II)

White-throated Sparrow        I L (not seen on MBW II)

Harris’s Sparrow      II L (not seen on MBW I)

White-crowned Sparrow        I SL; II LC

Dark-eyed Junco        I SLC; II SLC

Western Meadowlark        I L; II LC

Rusty Blackbird        I C (not seen on MBW II)

Yellow-rumped Warbler        I C (not seen on MBW II)

Northern Cardinal        I LC; II L

*          *          *

White-winged and Black scoters  ~  Grand Marais harbor (Neil Wingert photo)

Long-tailed Duck  ~  McQuade Road harbor (Gerry Hoekstra photo)

Spruce Grouse  ~  Coyote Ridge Road (KRE photo)

White-rumped Sandpiper  ~  MN DOT garage pond (Pat Klett photo)

Pacific Loon with Common Loon  ~  near McQuade Road harbor (Neil Wingert photo)

Mountain Bluebird  ~  Two Harbors (Gerry Hoekstra photo)

Townsend’s Solitaire  ~  Knife River (Gerry Hoekstra photo)

Bohemian Waxwing  ~  Two Harbors (Neil Wingert photo)

Hoary Redpoll  ~  Knife River (Neil Wingert photo)

White-winged Crossbill (juv.)  ~  Croftville Road (Gerry Hoekstra photo)

Also see the 2017 and 2016 MBWs summaries

following the summary of the 2018 MBWeekends


North Shore MBWs Summary

November 1 - 2 (II) and November 3 - 4 (III), 2018

So, if ever there was a time that my reputation as Your Spineless, Wishy-washy Tour Leader was appropriate, this is it. Those on North Shore III who were there by the Coast Guard station first thing Sunday morning will remember my initial excitement as I hollored Harlequin Duck (!), followed by my skepticism about my eyesight when we went over for another look. It couldn't have been more than a minute to get there, but no Harlequin was to be seen – just a coot and a White-winged Scoter. I began to think I had somehow made a collosal ID error, assuming it couldn't have vanished so quickly, and I felt obligated to retract my sighting after our search in that area came up empty.

Well, I now conclude there was a Harlequin there after all! Somehow it had apparently managed to fly off behind the Coast Guard station without anyone seeing it do so, since it was later relocated there by Doug Kieser and Howard Towle. Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. And I'm releived to conclude that I wasn't hallucinating – and that my Spineless, Wishy-washy reputation is intact.

In other news, we managed 3 out of 4 days with decent weather, which is pretty fortunate considering this is November. So we can't be too disappointed when we headed for home earlier than planned on the 4th day as a mix of rain, snow, and high winds blew in. We then finished with a composite 4-day total of 67 species (about average for this MBW), with 57 on Thursday-Friday and 59 on Saturday-Sunday. It was obvious that many migrants had departed the North Shore since the previous weekend, when more than 90 species were noted here, and there weren't as many rarities as we find in some years. (Consider that King Eider, Inca Dove, Black Guillemot, Cassin's Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, and many other strays have turned up on this MBW in past years.)            


If that Slaty-backed Gull in Grand Portage (found on October 28; last seen on the 31st) had stayed around another couple days, it would have been a nice addition to the list above, but we did see several highlights of note. Both MBWs came up with White-winged and Black scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, and nice Bohemian Waxwing flocks in Grand Marais. In addition, North Shore II had an unexpected Bonaparte's Gull in Knife River, plus late-lingering Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Orange-crowned Warbler. And on North Shore III there were a Glaucous Gull (possibly 2) at Iona's Beach, a Golden Eagle flying over Grand Marais, a pair of Peregrines at the Two Harbors ore docks, and Boreal Chickadees up the Gunflint Trail.  -KRE

Bird List

• II = seen on Nov 1-2 MBW

• III = seen on Nov 3-4 MBW

• S = St Louis Co

• L = Lake Co

• C = Cook Co

Snow Goose          III C

Cackling Goose          III C

Canada Goose          II LC     III C

Northern Shoveler          II C

Mallard          II LC     III C

American Black Duck          II C     III L

Green-winged Teal          II LC     III L

Lesser Scaup          II C

Harlequin Duck          III C (well, I'm counting it – see summary above)

White-winged Scoter          II C     III C

Black Scoter          II C     III C

Long-tailed Duck          II C     III LC

Bufflehead          II LC     III LC

Common Goldeneye          II C

Common Merganser          II C     III

Red-breasted Merganser          II SLC     III LC

Ruffed Grouse          II C     III LC

Horned Grebe          II C     III L

Red-necked Grebe          II LC     III LC

Rock Pigeon          II SL     III SLC

Mourning Dove          II S     III L

American Coot          II C     III C

Bonaparte’s Gull          II L

Ring-billed Gull          II SLC     III SLC

Herring Gull          II SLC     III SLC

Glaucous Gull          III L

Common Loon          II SLC     III L

Golden Eagle          III C

Bald Eagle          II LC     III SLC

Northern Goshawk          III C

Red-tailed Hawk          II LC     III LC

Rough-legged Hawk          II LC     III LC

Downy Woodpecker          II SLC     III SLC

Hairy Woodpecker          II LC     III SLC

Pileated Woodpecker          II SL     III SLC

American Kestrel          III L

Peregrine Falcon          III L

Blue-headed Vireo          II C

Canada Jay          II C     III C

Blue Jay          II SLC     III SLC

American Crow          II SLC     III SLC

Common Raven          II SLC     III SLC

Horned Lark          II SC     III C

Black-capped Chickadee          II SLC     III SLC

Boreal Chickadee          III C

Red-breasted Nuthatch          II SLC     III SLC

White-breasted Nuthatch          II LC     III LC

Ruby-crowned Kinglet          II L

Hermit Thrush          II C

American Robin          II SLC     III SLC

European Starling          II SL     III SLC

Bohemian Waxwing          II C     III LC

Cedar Waxwing          II C     III C

House Sparrow          II L     III SL

Pine Grosbeak          II C     III C

Purple Finch          III SLC

Common Redpoll          II LC     III SLC

Pine Siskin          II S     III SL

American Goldfinch          II SLC     III SLC

Lapland Longspur          II C     III LC

Snow Bunting          II SLC     III SLC

American Tree Sparrow          II SC     III L

Song Sparrow          II C     III C

White-throated Sparrow          II L     III C

White-crowned Sparrow          II LC     III LC

Dark-eyed Junco          II LC     III C

Orange-crowned Warbler          II S

*          *          *