*            *            *


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

*            *  

The summaries of the 2012 and 2008 Polk MBWs follow

the summary of the 2022 Norman-Mahnomen-Polk MBW.



April 28 - 29 - 30 - May 1, 2022

White-faced Ibises  ~  Roy Zimmerman photo

Bird List

N = Norman County, April 28 (98 species)

M = Mahnomen County, April 29 (89 species + 1 in Becker)

P = Polk County, April 30-May 1 (108 species)

Canada Goose          NMP

Trumpeter Swan          NMP

Tundra Swan          N

Wood Duck          NMP

Blue-winged Teal          NMP

Northern Shoveler          NMP

Gadwall          NP

American Wigeon          N

Mallard          NMP

Northern Pintail          NMP

Green-winged Teal          NMP

Canvasback          NMP

Redhead          NMP

Ring-necked Duck          NMP

Greater Scaup          NMP

Lesser Scaup          NMP

Bufflehead          NMP

Common Goldeneye          NMP

Hooded Merganser          NM

Common Merganser          MP

Red-breasted Merganser          MP

Ruddy Duck          N

Wild Turkey          NMP

Ruffed Grouse          NP

Sharp-tailed Grouse          P

Greater Prairie-Chicken          NMP

Gray Partridge          P

Ring-necked Pheasant          NMP

Pied-billed Grebe          NMP

Horned Grebe          NMP

Red-necked Grebe          NMP

Eared Grebe          P

Rock Pigeon          NMP

Eurasian Collared-Dove          MP

Mourning Dove          NMP

American Coot          NM

Sandhill Crane          NMP

Killdeer          NMP

Wilson’s Snipe          NMP

Spotted Sandpiper          N

Lesser Yellowlegs          NMP

Greater Yellowlegs          NMP

Wilson’s Phalarope          N

Bonaparte’s Gull          NMP

Franklin’s Gull          NP          

Ring-billed Gull          NMP

Herring Gull          MP

Forster’s Tern          M

Common Loon          MP

Double-crested Cormorant          MP

American White Pelican          NMP

Great Blue Heron          NMP

Great Egret          M

Glossy Ibis          N

White-faced Ibis          P

Turkey Vulture          NP

Osprey          N

Northern Harrier          NMP

Sharp-shinned Hawk          NP

Cooper’s Hawk          NP

Bald Eagle          NMP

Broad-winged Hawk          NMP

Red-tailed Hawk          NMP

Rough-legged Hawk          NMP

Great Horned Owl          NM

Barred Owl          P

Belted Kingfisher          NMP

Red-bellied Woodpecker          NMP

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker          NMP

Downy Woodpecker          NMP

Hairy Woodpecker          NMP

Northern Flicker          NMP

Pileated Woodpecker          NP

American Kestrel          NMP

Merlin          N          

Peregrine Falcon          M

Eastern Phoebe          NMP

Loggerhead Shrike          M (plus a shrike, sp. in N)

Blue Jay          NMP

Black-billed Magpie          NMP

American Crow          NMP

Common Raven          NMP

Black-capped Chickadee          NMP

Horned Lark          NMP

Tree Swallow          NP

N. Rough-winged Swallow          N

Barn Swallow          P

Cliff Swallow          P

Ruby-crowned Kinglet          NMP

Golden-crowned Kinglet          NP

Red-breasted Nuthatch          P

White-breasted Nuthatch          NMP

Brown Creeper          NMP

Winter Wren          MP

European Starling          NMP

Eastern Bluebird          P

Hermit Thrush          NMP

American Robin          NMP

House Sparrow          NMP

American Pipit          P (plus 1 in Becker)

House Finch          NP

Purple Finch          NP

Common Redpoll          P

Pine Siskin          P

American Goldfinch          P

Lark Sparrow          P

Chipping Sparrow          NMP

Fox Sparrow          NP

American Tree Sparrow          NMP

Dark-eyed Junco          NMP

White-throated Sparrow          NMP

Vesper Sparrow          NMP

Savannah Sparrow          MP

Song Sparrow          NMP

Swamp Sparrow          MP

Yellow-headed Blackbird          N

Western Meadowlark          NMP

Red-winged Blackbird          NMP

Brown-headed Cowbird          NMP

Rusty Blackbird          NMP

Brewer’s Blackbird          NMP

Common Grackle          NMP

Orange-crowned Warbler          NMP

Palm Warbler          MP

Yellow-rumped Warbler          NMP


Glossy Ibis  ~  Roy Zimmerman photo

Despite some wind, you could say the weather was tolerable enough on Thursday, but after that we endured three consecutive days with a combination of rain, cold, and/or strong winds. The conditions were basically about as bad as during the Traverse MBW three weeks previous, and at this rate I suspect that mid-May’s Yellow Medicine MBW will feature a tornado, wildfires, and an earthquake.

So it was somewhat surprising that we managed to come up with no fewer than 125 species in all. Of course, that Glossy Ibis near Ada was the headline, since there had only been about 10 previous state records, and it represents species #367 on the all-time MN Birding Weekends composite list! Then, this was followed on Saturday with 2 White-faced Ibis standing along Hwy 32 as we headed to Fertile for an indoor lunch out of the rain.

Flooded fields were about everywhere we went in all 3 counties, as was expected, but quite unexpected was how few shorebirds were found. Aside from 4 locally nesting species, the only migrant shorebirds we saw were Greater and Lesser yellowlegs (with the Greaters curiously predominating). But at least we did well enough with other water birds – 22 species in all, including lots of Greater Scaup (why so many?) and 4 grebe species.

Noteworthy as well was finding 6 out of MN’s 7 Regular gallinaceous species (no Spruce Grouse here). The 2 Gray Partridge were only seen by a few, but Greater Prairie Chickens turned up in all 3 counties, especially in Polk where 11 were found in the Pankratz Prairies area (we would have seen more if the back roads hadn’t been so muddy). Two groups of Sharp-tailed Grouse were found in Polk, with the group of 11 flying over our car caravan at Tympanuchus WMA timed just perfectly.

There were 12 raptor/falcon species, a cooperative Loggerhead Shrike in Mahnomen County was a definite surprise (some think this species is now virtually extirpated as a breeding bird in MN), a late redpoll at a feeder in Erskine was unusually late (but not unexpected given that so many had been around in April), and there were several times when we had both Rusty and Brewer’s blackbirds together to compare their field marks.

Horned Grebe  ~  Jeff Stephenson photo

Rough-legged Hawk  ~  Roy Zimmerman photo

Loggerhead Shrike  ~  Roy Zimmerman photo