*          *          *


Without question, that cooperative male Smith's Longspur posing nicely for all to see along Wilkin CR 15 on Saturday afternoon had to be the single best bird of this MBW, but it's equally obvious that this weekend's list of highlights included much more than that! For one thing, consider the overwhelming and countless number of northbound swans, geese, and other waterfowl that filled the skies on Saturday morning as we birded our way around NE Wilkin County. 

And, as impressive as those flocks were, it was interesting that hardly any were on the move on Saturday afternoon or on Sunday. It seemed the migrant raptors took over then, as we found no fewer 13 species during the weekend, including at least 4 Peregrines. Of note as well were our 11 shorebird species, highlighted by the Willet, Solitary, Baird's, and Least sandpipers along CR 112 en route to Otter Tail Prairie.

It was also memorable that so many Greater Scaup were present, since this species is generally rare or absent in the shallow wetlands of the prairie pothole region. Another curiosity was the number of Horned Grebes passing through, especially considering that we found no Eared Grebes, Similarly, why did we find more Bonaparte's Gulls than Franklin's? Those 3 Gray Partridges along the road just west of Rothsay was another surprise – I'll have to look up when's the last time we recorded this elusive species on a MBW, since it's longer than I can remember. 

We recorded two more highlights after most of you had departed for home on Sunday. On the way up to Becker County to look for ibis, there were 2 Cattle Egrets quite unexpectedly standing around by the grain elevators in Wendell, and four of us finally found the species which had eluded us all weekend – those 2 stake-out White-faced Ibis north of Detroit Lakes were still waiting for us as we arrived. So we finished up the MBW with 123 species, a pretty impressive total considering that the spring migration for passerines has been delayed and we recorded relatively few woods birds on our list.

I thank Charles Smith for being able to join us, making a special trip all the way from Toronto via Saskatchewan just to attend his first MBW! And I thank all of you for coming along as well on our first complete MBWeekend of the 2013 season, after the March MBW in SW Minnesota was semi-cancelled by – you guessed it! – the weather. (I especially appreciate your pretending that I was able to hear booming prairie-chickens and a rattling longspur better than the rest of you, despite my aging ears and other deteriorating body parts!) 


W = seen in Wilkin County (all seen April 27)

O = seen in Otter Tail County (mostly seen April 28)

Greater White-fronted Goose     W (by the 1000s; also seen in Grant Co)

Snow Goose     W (ditto)

Ross's Goose     W (several, probably 100+ mixed in with the Snows; also in Grant)

Cackling Goose     W (why so few?)

Canada Goose     WO

Tundra Swan     WO (maybe 10,000-plus!?)

Wood Duck     WO

Gadwall     WO

American Wigeon     WO

Mallard     WO

Blue-winged Teal     WO

Northern Shoveler     WO

Northern Pintail     WO

Green-winged Teal     WO

Canvasback     WO

Redhead     WO

Ring-necked Duck     WO

Greater Scaup     WO (many more than usual)

Lesser Scaup     WO

Bufflehead     WO

Common Goldeneye     WO

Hooded Merganser     WO

Common Merganser     O

Red-breasted Merganser     O

Ruddy Duck     WO

Gray Partridge     W (a nice, overdue surprise near Rothsay)

Ring-necked Pheasant     WO

Greater Prairie-Chicken     WO (displaying males heard more than seen)

Wild Turkey     WO

Common Loon     (only seen in Grant Co)

Pied-billed Grebe     WO

Horned Grebe     WO (but no Eareds)

Red-necked Grebe     WO (also in Grant Co)

Western Grebe     O (ditto)

Double-crested Cormorant     WO

American White Pelican     WO

American Bittern     (with the ibis in Becker Co)

Great Blue Heron     WO

Great Egret     O

Cattle Egret     (2 by the Wendall, Grant Co grain elevators en route to Becker Co)

White-faced Ibis     (a few of us saw the 2 Becker Co stake-outs)

Turkey Vulture     WO

Osprey     WO

Bald Eagle     WO

Northern Harrier     WO

Sharp-shinned Hawk     WO

Cooper's Hawk     O

Broad-winged Hawk     W

Swainson's Hawk     WO

Red-tailed Hawk     WO

Rough-legged Hawk     WO (several)

American Kestrel     WO

Merlin     WO

Peregrine Falcon     WO (at least 4, incl 1 in Grant Co)

American Coot     WO

Sandhill Crane     W

Killdeer     WO

Spotted Sandpiper     O

Solitary Sandpiper     O

Greater Yellowlegs     WO

Willet     O (the highlight along CR 112)

Lesser Yellowlegs     WO

Marbled Godwit     WO

Least Sandpiper     O

Baird's Sandpiper     WO

Pectoral Sandpiper     W

Wilson's Snipe     WO

Bonaparte's Gull     WO they outnumbered Franklin's)

Franklin's Gull     WO

Ring-billed Gull     WO

Herring Gull     O (1 immature)

Forster's Tern     O

Rock Pigeon     WO

Eurasian Collared-Dove     W (Rothsay; also in Wendell, Grant Co)

Mourning Dove     WO

Great Horned Owl     O

Belted Kingfisher     O

Downy Woodpecker     WO

Hairy Woodpecker     O

Northern Flicker     WO

Pileated Woodpecker     O

Eastern Phoebe     WO

Blue Jay     W

American Crow     WO

Horned Lark     WO

Purple Martin     O

Tree Swallow     WO

Northern Rough-winged Swallow     O

Cliff Swallow     O

Barn Swallow     WO

Black-capped Chickadee     O

Ruby-crowned Kinglet     O

Eastern Bluebird     O

Hermit Thrush     O

American Robin     WO

Brown Thrasher     O

European Starling     WO

American Pipit     W (grazing a burned field near the Smith's site)

Lapland Longspur     W (overhead migrants)

Smith's Longspur     W (amazingly cooperative and visible)

Orange-crowned Warbler     O

Yellow-rumped Warbler     O (only 5-6 of them)

American Tree Sparrow     WO

Chipping Sparrow     WO

Field Sparrow     O

Vesper Sparrow     WO

Savannah Sparrow     WO    

Fox Sparrow     W

Song Sparrow     WO

Swamp Sparrow     W

White-throated Sparrow     O

Dark-eyed Junco     WO (why so few juncos and other sparrows?)

Red-winged Blackbird     WO

Western Meadowlark     WO

Yellow-headed Blackbird     WO

Rusty Blackbird     W

Brewer's Blackbird     WO

Common Grackle     WO

Brown-headed Cowbird     WO

Purple Finch     O

House Finch     WO

Common Redpoll     W (still migrating through the prairie)

House Sparrow     WO

*          *          *


April 10-11-12, 2009

In my view (a.k.a. Proven Scientific Fact), this was spring at its best! Endless vistas of potholes and flooded fields, with many thousands of waterfowl advancing north as the ice retreats, equally impressive flocks of blackbirds, a good flight of raptors over Breckenridge on Saturday, and an entertaining movement of flickers on Sunday. True, the weather was colder than we had hoped, shorebirds were virtually absent despite the countless mudflats, there were fewer prairie-chickens and cranes than expected, and most wooded areas were relatively bird-free. And wouldn't that have been something if we could have confirmed that uncooperative gull as a California at our last stop?

But our list of specific highlights offset any disappointments: those nice concentrations of Greater White-fronted Geese and Tundra Swans, that tight-knit group of all three mergansers just before we adjourned, the unexpectedly early Marbled Godwits, a most cooperative Short-eared Owl, handsome breeding-plumaged longspurs grounded next to our vehicles, a Snow Bunting doing an amazing high-wire act, and certainly our unforgettable encounter of side-by-side shrikes.

So, thanks to all of you for coming along, especially rookie MBWers Jenni & Sam, Karen, and Shane. (And thanks to you veterans who were on your best behavior and didn't scare them off!) 

BIRD LIST = 98 species

G = seen in Grant Co (April 10 only)

W = seen in Wilkin Co (mostly April 11)

O = seen Otter Tail Co (mostly April 12)

Greater White-fronted Goose   GWO (incl 2,500 in a single field/pothole in Grant Co)

Snow Goose   GWO (very few)

Ross's Goose   W (1 or 2 fly-overs at Rothsay WMA) 

Cackling Goose   GWO (best look at Otter Tail Prairie)

Canada Goose   GWO

Trumpeter Swan   G

Tundra Swan   GWO (incl 3,000 in a single field in Wilkin Co)

Wood Duck   GW

Gadwall   GWO

American Wigeon   GWO

Mallard   GWO

Blue-winged Teal   GWO

Northern Shoveler   GWO

Northern Pintail   GWO

Green-winged Teal   GWO

Canvasback   GWO

Redhead   GWO

Ring-necked Duck   GWO

Greater Scaup   GO (best view at Pomme de Terre L in Grant Co)

Lesser Scaup   GWO

Bufflehead   GWO

Common Goldeneye   GWO

Hooded Merganser   GO

Common Merganser   GO

Red-breasted Merganser   GO

Ruddy Duck   O (only 1 all weekend)

Ring-necked Pheasant   GWO

Greater Prairie-Chicken   WO (Rothsay WMA & Otter Tail Prairie SNA) 

Wild Turkey   GWO

Common Loon   G (Pomme de Terre Lake)

Pied-billed Grebe   GWO

Horned Grebe   O (a surprise on the Otter Tail River)

American White Pelican   GO

Double-crested Cormorant   GWO

Great Blue Heron   GWO

Great Egret   WO (unexpected)

Turkey Vulture   GO

Bald Eagle   GWO (incl nests near Breckenridge & Otter Tail Prairie)

Northern Harrier   GWO

Sharp-shinned Hawk   GWO

Cooper's Hawk   GWO

Red-tailed Hawk   GWO

Rough-legged Hawk   GW

American Kestrel   GWO

American Coot   GWO

Sandhill Crane   WO (great views of just a few fly-overs)

Killdeer   GWO

Marbled Godwit   W (unexpectedly early at Rothsay WMA)

Wilson's Snipe   WO

Bonaparte's Gull   O (3 at our last stop on Sunday)

Ring-billed Gull   GWO

Herring Gull   GO

Rock Pigeon   GWO

Eurasian Collared-Dove   G (in Herman)

Mourning Dove   GWO

Great Horned Owl   O (brief fly-by at Orwell WMA; also possible young in a nest at    


Short-eared Owl   W (it even posed for all in the scopes at Rothsay WMA)

Belted Kingfisher   GO

Red-bellied Woodpecker   G (heard-only)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker   GW

Downy Woodpecker   GWO

Hairy Woodpecker   GW

Northern Flicker   WO (numerous migrants on Sunday)

Pileated Woodpecker   W (Breckenridge: unusual this close to ND)

Eastern Phoebe   WO

Loggerhead Shrike   W (a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime shrike comparison) 

Northern Shrike   W (ditto)

Blue Jay   GW

American Crow   GWO

Horned Lark   GWO

Tree Swallow   GO (a bit early)

Black-capped Chickadee   GWO

Red-breasted Nuthatch   O (Orwell WMA)

White-breasted Nuthatch   GW

Brown Creeper   GWO

Golden-crowned Kinglet   GWO

Ruby-crowned Kinglet   GWO (incl several together at Orwell WMA) 

Eastern Bluebird   GO

American Robin   GWO

European Starling   GWO

Cedar Waxwing   G

Yellow-rumped Warbler   GO (Pine Ridge Co Park & Orwell WMA)

American Tree Sparrow   GWO

Fox Sparrow   GO

Song Sparrow   GWO

Dark-eyed Junco   GWO

Lapland Longspur   GWO (incl a rare view of breeding-plumaged males)

Snow Bunting   G (2 individuals, incl one on a utility wire)

Northern Cardinal   G

Red-winged Blackbird   GWO

Western Meadowlark   GWO

Yellow-headed Blackbird   WO (2 seen)

Rusty Blackbird   GWO (lots of them singing)

Brewer's Blackbird   G (2 males at Rothsay WMA)

Common Grackle   GWO

Brown-headed Cowbird   O

House Finch   GWO

House Sparrow   GWO

Also see the 2013 and 2009 MBW summaries

following the summary of the 2017 MBWeekend



April 21 - 22 - 23, 2017

Summary by Craig Mandel (with minor edits by KRE)

The North Ottawa Impoundment in Grant County proved to be the most productive location on the trip, with a large variety of waterfowl and shorebirds there to study. In addition, the Greater Prairie-Chickens were much easier to hear and see there than at Rothsay WMA. The Western Grebes we relocated on there on Sunday were also fun to see, as were the Sanderling and Willet found that day. American Golden Plovers were also observed in a number of locations.  

In Otter Tail County, we made an evening visit to Adams Park each evening to observe the Great Egret rookery on Grotto Lake and the Black-crowned Night-Herons that were nesting in the spruce trees [AKA pine trees? -KRE] over the picnic shelter. We also were able to see a Great Horned Owl in a nearby woods. 

My thanks to all who came on this MBW, especially those who drove during the weekend, and to Nancy for her tips on the herons and owl in Fergus Falls.  -Craig


Composite Bird List (105 species) 

G = Grant County (April  21, 23)

T = Traverse County (April 21)

O = Otter Tail County (April 21, 22, 23)

W = Wilkin County (April 22)

Canada Goose      GTOW

Trumpeter Swan      GW

Wood Duck      GTOW

Gadwall      GW

American Wigeon      GW

Mallard      GTOW

Blue-winged Teal      GTOW

Northern Shoveler      GTOW

Northern Pintail      GW

Green-winged Teal      GTOW

Canvasback      GOW

Redhead      GOW

Ring-necked Duck      GOW

Greater Scaup      G

Lesser Scaup      GW

Bufflehead      GOW

Hooded Merganser      GO

Common Merganser      G

Ruddy Duck      GW

Ring-necked Pheasant      GOW

Greater Prairie-Chicken      GW

Wild Turkey      W

Pied-billed Grebe      GW

Horned Grebe      GW

Western Grebe      G

Rock Pigeon      GOW

Eurasian Collared-Dove      GW

Mourning Dove      GOW

Sora      W

American Coot      GOW

Sandhill Crane      W

American Golden-Plover      GTW

Killdeer      GTOW

Marbled Godwit      GW

Sanderling      G

Least Sandpiper      G

Pectoral Sandpiper      GW

Long-billed Dowitcher      G

Wilson's Snipe      GW

Greater Yellowlegs      GW

Willet      G

Lesser Yellowlegs      GW

Bonaparte's Gull      GW

Franklin's Gull      GW

Ring-billed Gull      GTOW

Herring Gull      GT

Common Loon      G

Double-crested Cormorant      GTOW

American White Pelican      GOW

American Bittern      GW

Great Blue Heron      GO

Great Egret      GOW

Black-crowned Night-Heron      O

Turkey Vulture      GO

Osprey      O

Bald Eagle      GOW

Northern Harrier      GOW

Sharp-shinned Hawk      GW

Cooper's Hawk      W

Broad-winged Hawk      W

Red-tailed Hawk      GOW

Great Horned Owl      GO

Belted Kingfisher      GO

Red-bellied Woodpecker      GW

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker      W

Downy Woodpecker      GOW

Hairy Woodpecker      G

Northern Flicker      GOW

Pileated Woodpecker      G

American Kestrel      GW

Eastern Phoebe      GOW

Blue Jay      GW

American Crow      GOW

Horned Lark      GW

Tree Swallow      GOW

Northern Rough-winged Swallow      G

Barn Swallow      GTW

Black-capped Chickadee      GW

White-breasted Nuthatch      OW

Brown Creeper      W

House Wren      G

Ruby-crowned Kinglet      GOW

Eastern Bluebird      GOW

Hermit Thrush      GO

American Robin      GTOW

Brown Thrasher      GW

European Starling      GW

House Sparrow      GOW

House Finch      GOW

Purple Finch      O

Orange-crowned Warbler      GW

Yellow-rumped Warbler      GOW

Chipping Sparrow      GOW

Clay-colored Sparrow      G

Vesper Sparrow      GTW

Savannah Sparrow      GW

Song Sparrow      GOW

Swamp Sparrow      GW

White-throated Sparrow      GOW

Dark-eyed Junco      GOW

Red-winged Blackbird      GTOW

Western Meadowlark      GTW

Yellow-headed Blackbird      GTOW

Common Grackle      GOW

Brown-headed Cowbird      GTOW