Juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher, Warroad sewage ponds, 30 August

(Craig Mandel photo)

*          *          *


September 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, 2017

Spruce Grouse, Pitt Grade Forest Road, Lake of the Woods County

Yes, the weather could have been better...dark overcast and rain on Friday afternoon…a bit too warm in the mid-80s Sunday afternoon…cold temperatures mixed with high winds and some rain on Monday. Still, this is Minnesota where it always could have been worse, and it’s hard to say how much these conditions affected on our birding efforts. Probably more significant were the dry conditions which had been persisting in NW Minnesota most of the summer and which must have had some negative effects on the local birding situation.

Indeed, it did seem that things were generally on the slow side, as we managed to find 147 species during our 3 1/2 days roaming through Lake of the Woods, Roseau, and Marshall counties, with an edge of Beltrami County and a brief visit to Pennington County added on Monday. This composite total in the 140s is on the low end of what we usually find here – around 150-160 is more normal, and 171 species is the best we’ve ever done on this MBW.

Our goal here each Labor Day Weekend is to find 20 species each of shorebirds and warblers, but our respective totals this time were 17 and 15 species. But at least 17 shorebirds is close to normal, with Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, both dowitchers, and Red-necked Phalarope our best finds. Mudflats were practically nonexistent except for one spot at Zipple Bay State Park and another at Agassiz NWR, and the rocky shorelines at the Warroad and Greenbush sewage ponds especially did host some shorebirds. On the other hand, 15 warblers is this MBW’s lowest total in recent years, with four of the five most recent years here reaching 20 species. No significant waves of warblers were ever found, with single Golden-winged, Mourning, and Cape May warblers our best finds – though only a few in the group were able to spot them.        

But there were some other highlights: the 3 Cackling Geese at the Greenbush sewage ponds were unusually early; a flock of a dozen or so Gray Partridge briefly seen just east of Roseau River WMA was a complete surprise; more cooperative was the male Spruce Grouse in Beltrami Island State Forest (probably a first ever for this MBW); the impressive Peregrine Falcon terrorizing the shorebirds and ducks at Agassiz’s mudflats; at least 2 LeConte’s Sparrows posed nicely for all to see at the corner of 410th Ave and 350th St in Roseau Co; and we tracked down a group of Red Crossbills near downtown Roseau, one of which was recorded and documented as a Type 3 individual.

Bird List

L = Lake of the Woods Co (mostly on Sept 1 pre-MBW)

R = Roseau Co (mostly on Sept 2-3)

M = Marshall Co (Sept 4; Roseau & Pennington species on Sept 4 not noted) 

(Note: the sequence of species below follows the 2016 AOU/ABA checklist; this differs from the MBW checklist I distributed, and from the newest 2017 sequence) 

Cackling Goose      R

Canada Goose      LRM

Trumpeter Swan      RM

Wood Duck      LRM

Gadwall      RM

American Wigeon      RM

Mallard      LRM

Blue-winged Teal      RM

Northern Shoveler      RM

Northern Pintail      R

Green-winged Teal      RM

Canvasback      M

Redhead      RM

Ring-necked Duck      RM

Lesser Scaup      R

Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser      RM

Ruddy Duck      RM

Gray Partridge      R

Spruce Grouse      L

Pied-billed Grebe      RM

Horned Grebe      RM

Red-necked Grebe      R

Eared Grebe      RM

Rock Pigeon      LRM

Mourning Dove      LRM

Ruby-throated Hummingbird      LR

Virginia Rail      LRM

Sora      LRM

American Coot      RM

Sandhill Crane      LRM

Semipalmated Plover      LM

Killdeer      RM

Ruddy Turnstone      M

Stilt Sandpiper      R

Sanderling      L

Baird's Sandpiper      LR

Least Sandpiper      LRM

Pectoral Sandpiper      RM

Semipalmated Sandpiper      LRM

Short-billed Dowitcher      R

Long-billed Dowitcher      R

Wilson's Snipe      M

Spotted Sandpiper      LRM

Solitary Sandpiper      LM

Greater Yellowlegs      RM

Lesser Yellowlegs      RM

Red-necked Phalarope      R

Bonaparte's Gull      R

Franklin's Gull      RM

Ring-billed Gull      LRM

Herring Gull      LR

Caspian Tern      R

Black Tern      R

Common Loon      LR

Double-crested Cormorant      LRM

American White Pelican      LRM

Great Blue Heron      LRM

Great Egret      M

Turkey Vulture      LRM

Osprey      L

Bald Eagle      LRM

Northern Harrier      RM

Sharp-shinned Hawk      L

Cooper's Hawk      R

Broad-winged Hawk      LR

Red-tailed Hawk      LRM

Great Horned Owl      R

Belted Kingfisher      LRM

Red-headed Woodpecker      R

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker      LM

Downy Woodpecker      RM

Hairy Woodpecker      LR

Northern Flicker      LRM

American Kestrel      LRM

Merlin      RM

Peregrine Falcon      M

Olive-sided Flycatcher      LR

Eastern Wood-Pewee      LR

Least Flycatcher      LR

Eastern Phoebe      LRM

Great Crested Flycatcher      R

Eastern Kingbird      R

Blue-headed Vireo      LRM

Warbling Vireo      R

Philadelphia Vireo      R

Red-eyed Vireo      LRM

Gray Jay      L

Blue Jay      LRM

Black-billed Magpie      R

American Crow      LRM

Common Raven      LRM

Purple Martin      R

Bank Swallow      R

Cliff Swallow      R

Barn Swallow      LRM

Black-capped Chickadee      LRM

Red-breasted Nuthatch      LR

White-breasted Nuthatch      R

Brown Creeper      R

House Wren      M

Sedge Wren      R

Marsh Wren      RM

Golden-crowned Kinglet      L

Eastern Bluebird      LR

Swainson's Thrush      R

Hermit Thrush      L

American Robin      LRM

Gray Catbird      LR

Brown Thrasher      R

European Starling      LRM

Cedar Waxwing      LRM

House Sparrow      R

Purple Finch      LRM

Red Crossbill      R

Pine Siskin      LR

American Goldfinch      LRM

Northern Waterthrush      L

Golden-winged Warbler      L

Black-and-white Warbler      LR

Tennessee Warbler      LR

Nashville Warbler      LR

Mourning Warbler      R

Common Yellowthroat      LRM

American Redstart      LR

Cape May Warbler      R

Yellow Warbler      R

Chestnut-sided Warbler      LR

Blackpoll Warbler      R

Palm Warbler      LRM

Yellow-rumped Warbler      RM

Wilson's Warbler      LR

Chipping Sparrow      LRM

Clay-colored Sparrow      R

Vesper Sparrow      R

Savannah Sparrow      RM

Le Conte's Sparrow      R

Song Sparrow      LRM

Swamp Sparrow      RM

White-throated Sparrow      LRM

Dark-eyed Junco      L

Rose-breasted Grosbeak      RM

Red-winged Blackbird      RM

Western Meadowlark      R

Yellow-headed Blackbird      M

Brewer's Blackbird      M

Common Grackle      R

*          *          *


Aug 30 - Aug 31 - Sept 1 - Sept 2, 2019

Ross’s Goose, near Warroad, 30 August (Craig Mandel photo)

We’ve now had a total of 17 Labor Day MBWs up in this remote part of the state, with a long list of rarities seen over the years – these have even included such unlikely strays as Red Knot, Long-tailed Jaeger, Little Gull, Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and Prairie Falcon. While none of our best finds this year can match the calibre of any of those, we still had another successful MBW here. Our composite total of 155 species was nearly exactly at our average (= 156); note that this MBW has varied beween 138 species (our lowest in 2011) to our best-ever total of 171 (in both 2008 and 2010). And among our highlights were... [Spoiler Alert! – the following summary includes three new County Birds for my lists]

Our best waterfowl were the early Ross’s Goose at the Warroad sewage ponds (also photographed by Craig just outside of Warroad early that evening), an equally early Cackling Goose noticed by some as it flew over the Super 8 parking lot (along with 2,000+ Franklin’s Gulls), and the Trump(eter) Swans (a.k.a. Donald Ducks?) at Brown’s Lake – new for my Lake of the Woods list. Unfortunately, the Gray Partridges that I lucked into on Roseau CR 9 weren’t there the next day, but a lone Sharp-tailed Grouse did run across the road in front of my group en route to Roseau River WMA. One lowlight was our total of only 13 shorebirds, which ties our lowest number ever (in 2006) and is far below our best shorebird list in 2008 when we had no fewer than 25 species. This year the Warroad sewage ponds was our only decent shorebirding spot and included a juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher and Red-necked Phalarope (Red-neckeds were also at Badger’s sewage ponds).     

After an absence of four years (when too many soybeans were planted), Short-eared Owls once again appeared at dusk NE of Roseau along 350th Street – just like they used to as hayfields and grasslands returned to the landscape. Nearby in Roseau itself earlier that day were an unexpected Red-bellied Woodpecker and Gray-checked Thrush (both new for my Roseau list), at the sewage ponds a cooperative flock of late Bobolinks came down and landed for all to see in the scopes, and a concentration of at least 50 Black-billed Magpies was found in a single field SW of town. Meanwhile, Lake of the Woods County provided us with Western Kingbirds, an Alder Flycatcher was strangely still singing vigorously away (if you could hear it, that is), and Red Crossbills happened by at three places near Norris Camp – as suspected, Matt Young at Cornell confirmed their identity as Type 2.

Besides shorebirds, sparrows were another disappointment since we could only turn up seven species  (which has to be our lowest total ever on this MBW), and unfortunately the only LeConte’s was only seen by Craig and a few others early Friday evening just SW of Warroad. But one consolation was our composite list of 20 warbler species, which actually ties the most we’ve ever had on this MBW (we’ve done this about four other times). Although we found warblers at lots of places, we never came across any real concentrations or waves anywhere.  

On behalf of everyone, I especially thank Craig for his contributions as co-leader (he again was underpaid, of course, but at least I never had cause to fire him); Gretchen Mehmel for serving as our hostess at Norris Camp (with indoor plumbing!) and taking time to guide us to a couple of nearby birding sites; and 9-year old Cooper who justly earned the coveted JTLMB for coming on his first MBW as the youngest MBWer ever in our 34-year history. –Kim Eckert


Bird List

R = seen in Roseau County

L = seen in Lake of the Woods County

Ross’s Goose        R

Cackling Goose        R

Canada Goose        RL

Trumpeter Swan        RL

Wood Duck        R

Blue-winged Teal        R

Northern Shoveler        R

Gadwall        R

American Wigeon        R

Mallard        R

Northern Pintail        R

Green-winged Teal        R

Canvasback        R

Redhead        R

Ring-necked Duck        RL

Common Goldeneye        R

Hooded Merganser        RL

Ruddy Duck        R

Gray Partridge        R (leader-only)

Ruffed Grouse        R (heard-only)

Sharp-tailed Grouse        R

Pied-billed Grebe        RL

Horned Grebe        R

Red-necked Grebe        RL

Rock Pigeon        RL

Mourning Dove        RL

Common Nighthawk        RL

Ruby-throated Hummingbird        RL

Virginia Rail        R

Sora        R

American Coot        R

Sandhill Crane        RL

Killdeer        R

Semipalmated Plover        R

Stilt Sandpiper        R

Least Sandpiper        RL

Pectoral Sandpiper        R

Semipalmated Sandpiper        R

Long-billed Dowitcher        R

Wilson’s Snipe        R

Spotted Sandpiper        RL

Solitary Sandpiper        R

Lesser Yellowlegs        RL

Greater Yellowlegs        R

Red-necked Phalarope        R

Bonaparte’s Gull        RL

Franklin’s Gull        RL

Ring-billed Gull        RL

Herring Gull        RL

Caspian Tern        R

Black Tern        R

Common Tern        L

Forster’s Tern        R

Double-crested Cormorant        RL

American White Pelican        RL

Great Blue Heron        R

Green Heron        R

Turkey Vulture        RL

Northern Harrier        RL

Sharp-shinned Hawk        RL

Cooper’s Hawk        R

Bald Eagle        RL

Broad-winged Hawk        RL

Red-tailed Hawk        RL

Great Horned Owl        R (heard-only)

Short-eared Owl        R

Belted Kingfisher        RL

Red-headed Woodpecker        R

Red-bellied Woodpecker        R

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker        RL

Downy Woodpecker        RL

Hairy Woodpecker        RL

Northern Flicker        RL

Pileated Woodpecker        L (heard-only)

American Kestrel        RL

Merlin        RL

Peregrine Falcon        R

Great Crested Flycatcher        RL

Western Kingbird        L

Eastern Kingbird        RL

Olive-sided Flycatcher        RL

Eastern Wood-Pewee        R

Alder Flycatcher        L

Least Flycatcher        R

Eastern Phoebe        RL

Yellow-throated Vireo        L

Blue-headed Vireo        L

Philadelphia Vireo        RL

Warbling Vireo        RL

Red-eyed Vireo        RL

Canada Jay        RL

Blue Jay        RL

Black-billed Magpie        RL

American Crow        RL

Common Raven        RL

Bank Swallow        R

Tree Swallow        R

Purple Martin        R

Barn Swallow        RL

Cliff Swallow        RL

Black-capped Chickadee        RL

Red-breasted Nuthatch        RL

White-breasted Nuthatch        RL

Brown Creeper        L (heard-only)

House Wren        RL

Sedge Wren        R

Marsh Wren        R

Ruby-crowned Kinglet        R

Eastern Bluebird        R

Gray-cheeked Thrush        R

Swainson’s Thrush        RL

Hermit Thrush        R

American Robin        RL

Gray Catbird        RL

European Starling        RL

Cedar Waxwing        RL

House Sparrow        RL

House Finch        R

Purple Finch        RL

Red Crossbill        L

Pine Siskin        RL

American Goldfinch        RL

Chipping Sparrow        RL

Clay-colored Sparrow        R

White-throated Sparrow        RL

LeConte’s Sparrow        R

Savannah Sparrow        RL

Song Sparrow        RL

Swamp Sparrow        RL

Bobolink        R

Baltimore Oriole        R

Red-winged Blackbird        RL

Common Grackle        RL

Ovenbird        R

Northern Waterthrush        RL

Golden-winged Warbler        RL

Black-and-white Warbler        RL

Tennessee Warbler        RL

Nashville Warbler        RL

Common Yellowthroat        RL

American Redstart        RL

Cape May Warbler        R

Northern Parula        R

Magnolia Warbler        RL

Bay-breasted Warbler        R

Blackburnian Warbler        R

Yellow Warbler        RL

Chestnut-sided Warbler        RL

Blackpoll Warbler        RL

Yellow-rumped Warbler        RL

Black-throated Green Warbler        L

Canada Warbler        R

Wilson’s Warbler        RL

Scarlet Tanager        L

Rose-breasted Grosbeak        RL

Also see the 2019 and 2017 MBWs summaries

following the summary of the 2020 MBWeekend



September 4 - 5 - 6 - 7, 2020

Summary by Craig Mandel [with edits by KRE]

On our 18th Labor Day MBW to northwestern Minnesota, we had to work hard to find the birds we observed; in all, we only managed a total of 138 species. [This ties the lowest total for this MBW; the highest ever has been 171, and the average is about 155.] Our first two days were warm and calm, but on the third day we experienced 30 mph winds with wind gusts reaching 40 mph. [These high winds, a lack of mudflats for shorebirds, and far fewer participants than usual to spot birds, all combined to result

in the low number of species.]  

While no real rarities were found, there were still some highlights to note:  

- The two Buff-breasted Sandpipers found by Deb and Nancy on Saturday at the TRF sewage ponds remained there for the group to see on Sunday. They had also found American Golden-Plover on Saturday, and the group counted an amazing 240+ Red-necked Phalaropes on Sunday. [The MBW’s shorebird total, however, was only 12 species, which is the lowest ever; 25 shorebirds is the record high for this MBW.]  

- The Blue-gray Gnatcatchers at Lake Bronson State Park below the dam were a nice find; for some reason this species seems to occur at this location on a regular basis, and this MBW has had them here 2 or 3 times before.

- It appears this may be a big season for Pine Siskins, which we observed on all 4 days.

- Our 20 species of warbler tied the highest warbler total for this MBW, but we had to spend a lot of time to find them, and I am sure most of us missed at least a couple of them. [This MBW has had 20 warblers 4 or 5 times previously.]

With the current pandemic restrictions, we missed out on group get-togethers for dinner, and, with no car-pooling, our 10-vehicle car caravan drew attention at a few locations and made for some challenging stops. But overall, the group size worked out, and I appreciated everyone's patience during our stops and those who did some scouting for us on their own.


K = Kittson Co, Sept 4

M = Marshall Co, Sept 4 - 5

P = Pennington Co, Sept 5 - 6 - 7  

R = Red Lake Co, Sept 6 - 7

Canada Goose     KMPR

Trumpeter Swan     KMR

Wood Duck     KMP

Blue-winged Teal     KMPR

Northern Shoveler    KMPR

Gadwall     KM

American Wigeon     M

Mallard     KMPR

Northern Pintail    KR

Green-winged Teal    KP

Canvasback     P

Redhead     KMPR

Ring-necked Duck    KM

Lesser Scaup     R

Bufflehead     MP

Common Goldeneye     K

Hooded Merganser     KMR

Ruddy Duck     KMP

Wild Turkey     P

Ruffed Grouse     P (heard-only)

Pied-billed Grebe     KMP

Red-necked Grebe     P

Eared Grebe     KMP

Rock Pigeon     KMPR

Eurasian Collared-Dove    KM

Mourning Dove     KMPR

Common Nighthawk     P

Ruby-throated Hummingbird    KMPR

Virginia Rail     KMR

Sora     KM

American Coot     KMPR

Sandhill Crane     KMP

American Golden Plover    P

Killdeer     KPR

Semipalmated Plover    K

Least Sandpiper     KP

Buff-breasted Sandpiper     P

Semipalmated Sandpiper    P

Wilson's Snipe     KM

Spotted Sandpiper    KPR

Solitary Sandpiper    KM

Lesser Yellowlegs    KP

Greater Yellowlegs    KMPR

Red-necked Phalarope    KMP

Franklin's Gull     R

Ring-billed Gull     KMPR

Black Tern     K

Common Loon     K

Double-crested Cormorant    KMPR

American White Pelican    MR

American Bittern     M

Great Blue Heron    KMPR

Great Egret     M

Turkey Vulture    KMPR

Northern Harrier    KMPR

Cooper's Hawk     P

Bald Eagle     KMPR

Broad-winged Hawk    MR

Red-tailed Hawk    KMPR

Belted Kingfisher    KMP

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker    KMP

Downy Woodpecker    KMP

Hairy Woodpecker     KP

Northern Flicker    KMPR

Pileated Woodpecker   KM

American Kestrel    KMPR

Merlin     KMPR

Great Crested Flycatcher    R

Eastern Kingbird     K

Eastern Wood-Pewee    KMR

Alder Flycatcher     M

Least Flycatcher    KMPR

Eastern Phoebe    KMPR

Yellow-throated Vireo    KMPR

Blue-headed Vireo    MPR

Philadelphia Vireo    KMPR

Warbling Vireo     KMPR

Red-eyed Vireo     KMPR

Blue Jay     KMP

Black-billed Magpie    KMP

American Crow     KMPR

Common Raven     KMPR

Barn Swallow     KMPR

Black-capped Chickadee    KMPR

Red-breasted Nuthatch    KM

White-breasted Nuthatch    KMPR

House Wren     P

Sedge Wren     M

Marsh Wren     KM

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher    K

Ruby-crowned Kinglet    M

Eastern Bluebird     KPR

Veery     K (heard-only)

American Robin     KMPR

Gray Catbird     KMR

European Starling    KMP

Cedar Waxwing     KMPR

House Sparrow     KMP

American Pipit     P

House Finch     K

Purple Finch     M

Pine Siskin     KMPR

American Goldfinch    KMPR

Chipping Sparrow    KMPR

Clay-colored Sparrow    KM

White-throated Sparrow    KP

Vesper Sparrow     MPR

Savannah Sparrow    MP

Song Sparrow     KM

Lincoln's Sparrow    M

Swamp Sparrow     M

Yellow-headed Blackbird    KM

Bobolink     K

Western Meadowlark    KR

Baltimore Oriole     P

Red-winged Blackbird    KMP

Common Grackle     KM

Ovenbird     PR

Northern Waterthrush    MPR

Golden-winged Warbler    R

Black-and-white Warbler    KMPR

Tennessee Warbler    KMPR

Orange-crowned Warbler    M

Nashville Warbler    KMPR

Common Yellowthroat    KMP

American Redstart    KMPR

Northern Parula     MR

Magnolia Warbler    KMR

Bay-breasted Warbler    KM

Blackburnian Warbler    K

Yellow Warbler     KMP

Chestnut-sided Warbler    KMR

Blackpoll Warbler    M

Palm Warbler     KMP

Yellow-rumped Warbler    KMP

Canada Warbler     KP

Wilson’s Warbler     K

Rose-breasted Grosbeak    KM