These Polk County MBWs do not include Mahnomen Co.,

but the species in these counties are similar.



While many migrant passerines hadn't quite arrived this far north, as evidenced by only 5 warbler species and perhaps only 25-30 total individuals seen, we still had a decent enough mix of birds to come up with a surprising total of 129 species. One thing in our favor was the weather, as we had virtually no wind both days (hard to do out on the prairie), moderate temperatures mostly in the 60s, and none of the precipitation which was hitting many areas south of us.

One of our highlights involved all the shorebirds we found, with 15 species in all being as respectable number for early May. (Or make it 16 species if you include those curious prairie-chickens dancing on the mudflats along Hwy 2!) It would have been nice to turn up some golden-plovers, avocets, Hudsonian Godwits, or Red-necked Phalaropes somewhere, but a Willet is not something you find among most shorebird flocks, and we certainly found plenty of Lesser Yellowlegs, Marbled Godwits, and Wilson's Phalaropes. Curiously, though, the extensive mudflats at the Crookston sewage ponds were practically empty except for Lesser Yellowlegs, and it was equally odd to find the gates open so that I never had a chance to use my coveted gate key.     

It was fortunate that so many of you had the time to bird around Fertile on Sunday, since we turned up lots of additions to our list there, including those pioneering collared-doves, that responsive Barred Owl, and a singing Lark Sparrow. Other weekend highlights included all the Tundra Swans and Franklin's Gulls congregating at that Hwy 2 wetland, a late Rough-legged Hawk, the Harris's Sparrow perched atop car #3, and eventually some nice scope views of a singing Le Conte's Sparrow. Even the avid county listers were successful (and I even managed 3 new Polk Co birds).

As always I thank you all for coming, especially Gary who was on his first MBW (and I'm sure he's already hard at work on his sewage ponds life list). I also thank Jason (sorry, I don't know his last name) who provided me with a timely tip on those productive wetlands off Hwy 2.


BIRD LIST (129 species, all in Polk County)

F = only seen/heard near Fertile on Sunday 

Canadian Honker

White Starling (a.k.a. Trumpeter Swan; 2 pairs at Badger Lake)

Tundra Swan (great sights and sounds, especially along Hwy 2)

Wood Duck


American Wigeon


Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal



Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup (pair at Erskine sewage ponds)

Lesser Scaup


Hooded Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Ruffed Grouse (F; heard-only at 2 spots)

Sharp-tailed Grouse (only 1 fly-by)

Greater Prairie-Chicken (best display on the mudflats!)

Common Loon

Pied-billed Grebe

Horned Grebe

Western Grebe (Burnham Creek WMA)

American White Pelican

American Bittern (seen twice)

Great Blue Heron

Green Heron (Crookston sewage ponds)

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle (incl 2 babies in a nest – aw!) 

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk (F)

Cooper's Hawk (F)

Broad-winged Hawk (F)

Red-tailed Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk (a bit late; spotted by those in Roy's vehicle)

American Kestrel

Sora (heard-only)

American Coot

Sandhill Crane (several pairs and family groups)

Semipalmated Plover


Spotted Sandpiper

Greater Yellowlegs (only 1?)

Willet (nice spotting, Pete)

Lesser Yellowlegs (too many?)

Upland Sandpiper

Marbled Godwit (lots, but no Hudsonians)

Least Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper (well, I still say there were 2 there)

Pectoral Sandpiper


dowitcher, sp. (either species possible in early May)

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson's Phalarope (lots, but no Red-neckeds)

Bonaparte's Gull

Franklin's Gull (lots of them seen especially well at the Hwy 2 wetland)

Ring-billed Gull

Caspian Tern

Forster's Tern

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove (F)

Mourning Dove

Great Horned Owl (on a nest)

Barred Owl (F; seen nicely at midday)

Belted Kingfisher (F)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (uncommon/rare in NW Minn)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Kingbird (F)

Yellow-throated Vireo (F) 

Blue-headed Vireo

Blue Jay

Black-billed Magpie

American Crow

Common Raven

Horned Lark

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (F)

Bank Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren (F)

Sedge Wren

Marsh Wren (all 3 wrens heard-only)

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

Brown Thrasher

European Starling

American Pipit (good looks in the pasture along Hwy 32)

Cedar Waxwing

Northern Waterthrush (heard-only)

Orange-crowned Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Palm Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Lark Sparrow (F)

Savannah Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

Le Conte's Sparrow (many heard and 1 seen well – nice spotting, Ann)

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow (now we know what car-top carriers are for!)

White-crowned Sparrow

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (F)


Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Baltimore Oriole

House Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

*            *            *


April 25-26-27, 2008

Too cold and windy on Friday in Norman Co....icy and snow-packed roads farther south the same day preventing two cars from getting to Crookston at all and putting another in the ditch for a couple hours that night....Saturday's blizzard conditions with high winds and blowing snow preventing any birding until late afternoon....a few roads still drifted shut on Sunday....

No, this wasn't January, but late April, and the less said about the weather this "spring" the better. But despite the conditions and our inability to get out to bird as much as planned, we eventually did surprisingly well. The best find, of course, was Alyssa's Cinnamon Teal at the Crookston sewage ponds, and it showed no evidence of hybridization as is sometimes the case. In all, these ponds had 24 species of waterfowl, including a fly-by Gr White-fronted Goose, several Greater Scaup (also at Ada's sewage ponds on Friday), and a Lark Sparrow just outside the entrance gate.

That large gravel pit pond on Sunday also produced a nice selection of waterbirds and was well worth the hike: more white-fronteds and some Cackling Geese, lots of vocal swans, a pair of Western Grebes, a fly-by Great Egret, a couple of early Dunlin, plus a pair of Gray Partridge and an unidentified shrike (Northern probably more likely).

Of course, our sunny and relatively windless Sunday morning birding along Polk Co Rd 45 was especially pleasant after Saturday's weather, as we found a couple of unpredictable Sharp-tailed Grouse up a tree, numerous Greater Prairie-Chickens (including some displaying in the road; also found in Norman Co), our only Rough-legged & an adult Peregrine, lots of vocal Sandhill Cranes, two Short-eared Owls apparently dueling over breeding territory, and handsome adult male Lapland Longspurs grounded along the roadsides.

Special thanks, of course, go to John Loegering for generously providing the key for access to the Crookston sewage ponds. Also worthy of recognition are the folks at the Norman (Bates) Motel (no one got stabbed in the shower!), the Golf Terrace Motel (for shoveling out the Yellow Car), and the AmericInn (for use of their lobby and breakfast room): all three motels were very accommodating to a desperate bunch of birders. The Twin Valley Heritage & Arts Center and the Crookston Chamber of Commerce worked overtime to reserve access for us to those prairie-chicken blinds (which we never got to use). And, as always, thanks again to all of you for your flexibility and patience in the face of all that meteorological nonsense!

BIRD LIST (MBW Total = 117 species)

N = April 25 in Norman Co. (91 species)

P = April 26-27 in Polk Co. (98 species)

Greater White-fronted Goose   P

Snow Goose   NP

Cackling Goose   P

Canada Goose   NP

Trumpeter Swan   N (3 with Tundras for comparison in a flooded field)

Tundra Swan   NP

Wood Duck   NP

Gadwall   NP

American Wigeon   P

Mallard   NP

Blue-winged Teal   NP


Northern Shoveler   NP

Northern Pintail   NP

Green-winged Teal   NP

Canvasback   NP

Redhead   NP

Ring-necked Duck   NP

Greater Scaup   NP

Lesser Scaup   NP

Bufflehead   NP

Common Goldeneye   P

Hooded Merganser   P

Red-breasted Merganser   P

Ruddy Duck   P

Gray Partridge   P

Ring-necked Pheasant   NP

Sharp-tailed Grouse   P

Greater Prairie-Chicken   NP

Wild (or Tame?) Turkey   N

Common Loon   NP

Pied-billed Grebe   NP

Horned Grebe   NP

Red-necked Grebe   NP (at both sewage ponds)

Western Grebe   P

American White Pelican   P

Double-crested Cormorant   NP

Great Blue Heron   NP

Great Egret   P

Turkey Vulture   NP

Osprey   NP

Bald Eagle   NP (including a Norman Co nest)

Northern Harrier   NP

Sharp-shinned Hawk   N

Cooper’s Hawk   NP

Red-tailed Hawk   NP

Rough-legged Hawk   P

American Kestrel   NP

Merlin   P

Peregrine Falcon   P

American Coot   NP

Sandhill Crane   NP (just one in Norman Co)

Killdeer   NP

Greater Yellowlegs   P

Lesser Yellowlegs   NP

Spotted Sandpiper   P

Marbled Godwit   P

Dunlin   P

Wilson's Snipe   NP

Franklin’s Gull   P (some with pink breasts)

Bonaparte’s Gull   NP

Ring-billed Gull   NP

Herring Gull   P

Rock Pigeon   NP

Mourning Dove   NP

Short-eared Owl   P

Belted Kingfisher   N

Red-bellied Woodpecker   N (heard-only by Barb & Susan)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker   N

Downy Woodpecker   NP

Hairy Woodpecker   N

Northern Flicker   NP

Eastern Phoebe   NP

shrike, sp.   P

Blue Jay   N

Black-billed Magpie   N (only one)

American Crow   NP

Common Raven   NP

Horned Lark   NP

Tree Swallow   NP

Bank Swallow   N

Barn Swallow   N

Black-capped Chickadee   NP

Red-breasted Nuthatch   N (two locations)

White-breasted Nuthatch   NP

Brown Creeper   N

Golden-crowned Kinglet   N

Ruby-crowned Kinglet   NP

Eastern Bluebird   NP

Hermit Thrush   NP

American Robin   NP

European Starling   NP

Orange-crowned Warbler   N (several seen)

Yellow-rumped Warbler   NP

American Tree Sparrow   NP

Chipping Sparrow   N

Vesper Sparrow   NP

Lark Sparrow   P

Savannah Sparrow   NP

Fox Sparrow   NP

Song Sparrow   NP

Swamp Sparrow   NP

White-throated Sparrow   NP

Dark-eyed Junco   NP

Lapland Longspur   NP (breeding-plumaged males in both counties)

Red-winged Blackbird   NP

Western Meadowlark   NP

Yellow-headed Blackbird   NP

Rusty Blackbird   NP

Brewer’s Blackbird   P

Common Grackle   NP

Brown-headed Cowbird   NP

Purple Finch   N

House Finch   NP

Pine Siskin   N (heard-only)

American Goldfinch   N (heard-only)

House Sparrow   NP

*            *