Waseca - Steele - Dodge Counties MBW

October 9 - 10 - 11, 2020

Summary by Craig Mandel (with minor edits by KRE)

With temperatures in the high 70s (and even a high near 85 on Friday), there was not much to complain about – unless you take into account the 15-25 mph SSW winds each day, which I am sure kept a lot of birds from migrating during our three days in southern Minnesota. And, had any insect-eating migrants arrived on our day in Waseca County, they would have been treated to feeding on many biting black flies. But most of the waterfowl had not arrived yet, and there was only one location that had any shorebirds. Many other migrants were in limited numbers (note our total of only 7 Yellow-rumped Warblers over the entire MBW), but there were many Hermit Thrushes, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned kinglets at several stops. 


We started in Waseca County checking a few locations around Goose Lake, where we observed our first Hermit Thrushes of the trip along with a mix of sparrows. A stop at Loon Lake gave us good looks at a large flock of Franklin's Gulls and our only Double-crested Cormorant for the day. Our nice walks at Courthouse and Ray Eustice county parks added a few species of interest, including a Nashville Warbler and a cooperative Brown Creeper. Our next stop at the Janesville WTP was highlighted by a large group of Tree Swallows flying over the road and ponds. But some of the most interesting birds of the day were unfortunately observed by just Nancy and myself while heading back to Owatonna. We found a pair of Trumpeter Swans on Goose Lake, and we then took some back roads back to town: en route, we added Eurasian Collared-Doves, and at Blowers County Park we observed a late Baltimore Oriole, our only Yellow-rumped Warbler of the day, and some Purple Finches. 


Our birding day in Steele County started with a morning walk at Mineral Springs Park, where we added a fly-over Sharp-shinned Hawk, plus our first Red-breasted Nuthatch of the trip. There were also some Purple Finches and a single Yellow-rumped Warbler. Our next location of note was the Armstrong Wetland Restoration, where we observed a mix of shorebirds and waterfowl. (This newly restored wetland should offer some great birding opportunities in Steele County for years to come.) Rice Lake State Park and Oak Glen Lake are usually good for birding, but they were relatively quiet when we checked them. Our last stop of the day was at Kaplan's Woods Park in Owatonna, where we added Winter Wren and Barred Owl to the county and day lists. 


Our last day in Dodge County produced the smallest variety of birds, as a small flock of Canada Geese was the only species of waterfowl observed in the county that day. We started out at the Rice Lake Cemetery, with a few species of sparrows and a fly-over Wilson's Snipe. Then, in an effort to shake a few aliens that had gotten into our car caravan, we made a stop at the Wasioja Seminary Park, where some of the group observed a late Tennessee Warbler and a Nashville Warbler. Afterwards, we enjoyed a nice walk at Tollefson Woods, where we added Barred Owl, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and our only Cedar Waxwings of the trip. The only other stop of the day that had any birds of note was at the Evergreen Cemetery, where we found a late Pine Warbler.


So, taking into account our 8-car caravan, 6-foot social distancing, and the warm and windy weather, our 88 species of birds observed for the 3 days was pretty good. 


Bird List 

• W = seen Oct . 9 in Waseca Co. (62 species) 

• S = seen Oct. 10 in Steele Co. (69 species) 

• D = seen Oct. 11 in Dodge Co. (51 species) 


Canada Goose     W, S, D

Trumpeter Swan     W, S           

Wood Duck     W, S           

Blue-winged Teal     W, S         

Northern Shoveler     W, S       

Gadwall     W, S          

American Wigeon     W, S     

Mallard     W, S          

Northern Pintail     S   

Green-winged Teal     W, S 

Redhead     W 

Ruddy Duck     W, S 

Wild Turkey     S 

Ring-necked Pheasant     S 

Pied-billed Grebe     W, S 

Rock Pigeon     W, S, D 

Eurasian Collared-Dove     W, D 

Mourning Dove     W, S, D 

American Coot     W, S 

Sandhill Crane     W, S 

Killdeer     W, S, D 

Pectoral Sandpiper     S 

Long-billed Dowitcher     S 

Wilson's Snipe     S, D 

Lesser Yellowlegs     S 

Greater Yellowlegs     S 

Franklin’s Gull     W, S 

Ring-billed Gull     W, S 

Double-crested Cormorant     W, S 

Great Blue Heron     S, D 

Great Egret     S 

Turkey Vulture     D 

Northern Harrier     W, S, D  

Sharp-shinned Hawk     S  

Bald Eagle     W, S, D          

Broad-winged Hawk     W 

Red-tailed Hawk    W, S, D 

Barred Owl     S, D 

Red-bellied Woodpecker     W, S, D 

Downy Woodpecker     W, S, D 

Hairy Woodpecker     W, S, D 

Northern Flicker     S, D 

Pileated Woodpecker     D 

Merlin     D 

Eastern Phoebe     W 

Blue Jay     W, S, D 

American Crow     W, S, D 

Horned Lark     W, D 

Tree Swallow     W 

Black-capped Chickadee     W, S, D 

Red-breasted Nuthatch     S, D 

White-breasted Nuthatch     W, S, D 

Brown Creeper     W, S, D 

Winter Wren     S 

Golden-crowned Kinglet     W, S, D 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet     W, S, D 

Eastern Bluebird     S, D 

Hermit Thrush     W, S, D 

American Robin     W, S, D 

European Starling     W, S, D 

Cedar Waxwing     D 

House Sparrow     W, S, D 

American Pipit     W 

House Finch     W, S 

Purple Finch     W, S, D 

American Goldfinch     W, S, D 

Chipping Sparrow     D 

Fox Sparrow     W, S, D 

Dark-eyed Junco    W, S, D 

White-crowned Sparrow     W 

White-throated Sparrow     W, S, D 

Vesper Sparrow     S, D 

Savannah Sparrow     W, S, D 

Song Sparrow     W, S, D 

Lincoln’s Sparrow     W, S  

Swamp Sparrow     W, S, D 

meadowlark, sp.     W 

Baltimore Oriole     W 

Red-winged Blackbird     W, S, D 

Brewer’s Blackbird     W 

Common Grackle     W, S, D 

Tennessee Warbler     D 

Orange-crowned Warbler     W, S, D 

Nashville Warbler     W, D 

Palm Warbler     S 

Pine Warbler     D 

Yellow-rumped Warbler     W, S, D 

Northern Cardinal     S, D