Eastern Meadowlark  ~  Adrian, Nobles Co  ~  27 May (note white malar area and blackish-brown back & scapular feathers; KRE “digibin” image)

*          *          *


May 26-27-28, 2012

I have to say that to come up with 133 species here amounts to a pretty successful MBW – especially considering the unfavorable weather (too stormy Saturday morning and too windy much of the weekend), the limited number of wetlands in these two counties (of course, a few sewage ponds and all those flooded fields provided shorebirds and other water birds), the relative lack of significant wooded areas in this corner of the state, and that almost all the migrant passerines had already gone through.

Of course, that surprising (though uncooperative!) Buff-breasted Sandpiper found by Craig's group in that flooded field near Pipestone was perhaps the best of our many highlights, considering that this species is hardly ever seen anywhere in Minnesota during spring migration. A close second had to be the singing Henslow's Sparrows at both Touch the Sky Prairie NWR and Pipestone National Monument; this uncommon and local species is always something special outside of SE Minnesota. (And we almost had another special highlight....however, as much as I'd like to count them as species #358 on our all-time MBW composite list, the Mute Swans spotted by Bill & Esther & Jennifer south of Pipestone on Monday morning turned out to be non-countable "pets".)

Other appropriately "memorable" birds on this Memorial Day Weekend included: a male Greater Scaup at Pipestone's sewage ponds; Least Bitterns at Luverne's sewage ponds (and even seen by Craig's group) and at Woodstock WMA in Pipestone Co; a striking adult dark-morph Swainson's Hawk along Pipestone CR 5; a puzzling adult Peregrine Falcon flying over Blue Mounds; our respectable total of 17 shorebird species (besides that Buff-breasted, the best ones were the Willet and Hudsonian Godwits in that flooded area in Pipestone Co along the South Dakota line; some migrant flycatchers (Olive-sided, Yellow-bellied, Alder) and warblers (N Waterthrush, Tennessee, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, Yellow-rumped) still passing through; the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Blue Mounds (a rarity in SW Minnesota); an unexpected Lark Sparrow singing at Blue Mounds on Monday; and, of course, those quintessential Blue Grosbeaks at both Blue Mounds and Pipestone National Monument.

BIRD LIST (133 total species: 108 in Rock Co, 113 in Pipestone Co)


R = only seen/heard in Rock County

P = only seen/heard in Pipestone County

(species not annotated R or P were found in both counties)

Canada Goose

Wood Duck



Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail     P

Green-winged Teal     R

Redhead     P

Greater Scaup     P

Lesser Scaup     P

Bufflehead     P

Hooded Merganser     P

Ruddy Duck     P

Ring-necked Pheasant

Wild Turkey     P

Pied-billed Grebe     P

Eared Grebe     P

Double-crested Cormorant     R

American White Pelican     P

Least Bittern

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret     P

Green Heron

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle     R

Northern Harrier

Cooper's Hawk     P

Broad-winged Hawk     P

Swainson's Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel

Peregrine Falcon     R

Virginia Rail

American Coot

American Golden-Plover     P

Semipalmated Plover     P


Spotted Sandpiper

Willet     P

Lesser Yellowlegs

Upland Sandpiper     R

Hudsonian Godwit     P

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper

Buff-breasted Sandpiper     P

dowitcher, sp.     P

Wilson's Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope     P

Franklin's Gull     R

Black Tern

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

Common Nighthawk

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-headed Woodpecker     P

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker     R

Northern Flicker

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Eastern Wood-Pewee     R

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher     R

Alder Flycatcher

Willow Flycatcher     R

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher     R

Eastern Kingbird

Yellow-throated Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo     R

Blue Jay

American Crow

Horned Lark     P

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Bank Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee     P

White-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren

Sedge Wren

Marsh Wren

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher     R

Eastern Bluebird

thrush, sp.     R

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Northern Waterthrush     R

Tennessee Warbler     R

Common Yellowthroat

American Redstart

Blackburnian Warbler     R

Yellow Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler     R

Yellow-rumped Warbler     P

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Lark Sparrow     R

Savannah Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

Henslow's Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Northern Cardinal

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Blue Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting     R



Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Orchard Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

House Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

*          *          *


May 26-27-28, 2007

Well, I’d have to say we have a tie between Jay and Angela in our MBW’s Stone Face competition at Pipestone National Monument – although I suppose we could vote on this as we did on Saturday’s potato side dishes. But I’ll bet there’s no need to vote on which group dinner you liked better, as Sterling’s Cafe & Grill on Sunday took excellent care of us in an hour’s less time than did the relatively inefficient Bluestem Restaurant on Saturday.

And I assume no vote is needed either on what you thought of the weather on Saturday, as we had to adjust our birding itinerary while the rain followed us around almost all day long. Still, it was remarkable that we had no wind to speak of on any of the days, given that the wind is so characteristic of the prairie. So, despite the rain, we managed to come up with no fewer than 142 species on our composite list: 105 on the Nobles Co pre-MBW, and 130 on the main Rock-Pipestone MBW.

Our grand total was also impressive given that relatively few migrants were still passing through this late in May. While we did come up with 13 shorebird species in all, only 7 of these were true migrants heading for points north of Minnesota, and 4 of these were represented by just single individuals – only White-rumpeds, Semis, and Red-necked Phalaropes were plural in number. We did better with passerines migrating farther north, although no migrant waves were present and almost all the species were seen just once or twice: Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied flycatchers, Blue-headed and Philadelphia vireos, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Swainson’s and Gray-cheeked thrushes, Mourning, Magnolia and Canada warblers, and Lincoln’s and White-crowned (unusually late) sparrows. There were only multiples for Alder Flycatcher and Tennessee Warbler.

Also of note on this MBW were some southwestern Minnesota specialties and even a few unexpected rarities. Foremost among the highlights on Friday’s pre-MBW was that group of 8 Cattle Egrets we turned up south of Worthington. Unusual as well on Friday was the Eastern Meadowlark first heard by Brian Smith across the road from the noisy Adrian truck stop, and it eventually came close enough for us to study its plumage features. Earlier in the day we had an Eastern Screech-Owl obligingly fly into view in one of Worthington’s city parks, two apparently healthy Greater White-fronted Geese were lingering at the former sewage ponds in Worthington, and an injured Snow Goose was equally late just south of town.

During the main MBW in Rock and Pipestone counties, yet another unexpected and out-of-range Eastern Meadowlark was found singing at Pipestone National Monument, and a tip from Nelvina DeKam, long-time resident birder in this corner of the state, led us to another screech-owl east of Hardwick in Rock Co. A non-breeding Common Loon was a surprise in a gravel pit pond just south of Blue Mounds State Park, since this species is hard to come by in essentially lake-less Rock Co; also quite unexpected here was a Lark Sparrow on the outskirts of Luverne; and Blue Grosbeaks – that quintessential specialty of southwestern Minnesota – provided the group with excellent views at both Blue Mounds and Pipestone National Monument.

Bird List (composite total =142 species)

N = Nobles Co, May 27 pre-MBW (101 in Nobles + 4 in Rock = 105 species)

R = Rock Co, primarily May 28 & May 30 (112 species)

P = Pipestone Co, primarily May 29 (108 species)

Greater White-fronted Goose     N pre-MBW only

Snow Goose     N pre-MBW only

Canada Goose     NRP

Wood Duck     NRP

Gadwall     NP

American Wigeon     N pre-MBW only

Mallard     NRP

Blue-winged Teal     NRP

Northern Shoveler     NP

Canvasback     P

Redhead     NRP

Ring-necked Duck     N pre-MBW only

Lesser Scaup     NP

Hooded Merganser     RP

Ruddy Duck     NRP

Ring-necked Pheasant     NRP

Wild Turkey     RP

Common Loon     R

Pied-billed Grebe     NRP

Eared Grebe     NP

Double-crested Cormorant     NRP

American White Pelican     NP

Great Blue Heron     NRP

Cattle Egret     N pre-MBW only

Green Heron     P

Black-crowned Night-Heron     N pre-MBW only

Turkey Vulture     NRP

Bald Eagle     NP

Northern Harrier     RP

Cooper's Hawk     R

Broad-winged Hawk     R (Brad only)

Swainson's Hawk     RP

Red-tailed Hawk     NRP

Virginia Rail     P

Sora     NP

American Coot     NP

Black-bellied Plover     N pre-MBW only

Killdeer     NRP

Spotted Sandpiper     NRP

Solitary Sandpiper     P

Lesser Yellowlegs     N pre-MBW only

Upland Sandpiper     NP

White-rumped Sandpiper     NRP

Pectoral Sandpiper     R

Semipalmated Sandpiper     NRP

Wilson's Snipe     P

American Woodcock     R (Denny only)

Wilson's Phalarope     NRP

Red-necked Phalarope     RP

Franklin's Gull     N pre-MBW only

Ring-billed Gull     NR

Black Tern     NRP

Forster's Tern     P

Rock Pigeon     NRP

Eurasian Collared-Dove     NRP

Mourning Dove     NRP

Yellow-billed Cuckoo     R

Eastern Screech-Owl     NR

Common Nighthawk     RP

Chimney Swift     NRP

Ruby-throated Hummingbird     RP

Belted Kingfisher     NRP

Red-headed Woodpecker     NRP

Red-bellied Woodpecker     NR

Downy Woodpecker     NRP

Hairy Woodpecker     NRP

Northern Flicker     NRP

American Kestrel     NRP

Merlin     N pre-MBW only (Don only)

Olive-sided Flycatcher     R

Eastern Wood-Pewee     NRP

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher     RP

Alder Flycatcher     NRP

Willow Flycatcher     NR

Least Flycatcher     NRP

Eastern Phoebe     NRP

Great Crested Flycatcher     R

Western Kingbird     P

Eastern Kingbird     NRP

Yellow-throated Vireo     R

Blue-headed Vireo     R

Warbling Vireo     NRP

Philadelphia Vireo     R

Red-eyed Vireo     NRP

Blue Jay     NRP

American Crow     NRP

Horned Lark     N pre-MBW only

Purple Martin     NP

Tree Swallow     NRP

Northern Rough-winged Swallow     RP

Bank Swallow     NRP

Cliff Swallow     NRP

Barn Swallow     NRP

Black-capped Chickadee     NRP

White-breasted Nuthatch     NRP

House Wren     NRP

Sedge Wren     NRP

Marsh Wren     NRP

Ruby-crowned Kinglet     R

Eastern Bluebird     NRP

Gray-cheeked Thrush     N pre-MBW only

Swainson's Thrush     R

American Robin     NRP

Gray Catbird     NRP

Brown Thrasher     NRP

European Starling     NRP

Cedar Waxwing     NRP

Tennessee Warbler     NRP

Mourning Warbler     RP

Common Yellowthroat     NRP

American Redstart     NRP

Magnolia Warbler     P

Yellow Warbler     NRP

Canada Warbler     R (Roy only)

Chipping Sparrow     NRP

Clay-colored Sparrow     RP

Field Sparrow     NRP

Vesper Sparrow     NRP

Lark Sparrow     R

Savannah Sparrow     NRP

Grasshopper Sparrow     RP

Song Sparrow     NRP

Lincoln's Sparrow     R

Swamp Sparrow     NRP

White-crowned Sparrow     R

Northern Cardinal     NR

Rose-breasted Grosbeak     RP

Blue Grosbeak     RP

Indigo Bunting     RP

Dickcissel     RP

Bobolink     NRP

Red-winged Blackbird     NRP

Eastern Meadowlark     NP

Western Meadowlark     NRP

Yellow-headed Blackbird     NRP

Common Grackle     NRP

Brown-headed Cowbird     NRP

Orchard Oriole     NRP

Baltimore Oriole     NRP

House Finch     NRP

American Goldfinch     NRP

House Sparrow     NRP

"Blowin' in the Wind"

If the wind had stopped blowing, it looks like that Black-necked Stilt would probably have fallen over. And that pretty much sums up the two biggest highlights of the MBW: a 13th state record (spotted by Linda), and two out of three days with high wind difficulties. But at least the weather on Sunday was just about ideal, and we came up with a respectable 128 species (plus 4 more added by Craig and 8 of the participants at Williams Nature Center near Mankato late Monday afternoon: Blue-winged and Kentucky warblers, Ovenbird, and Eastern Towhee).

Besides the wind, the disappointments for me were that my beloved Blue Mounds wasn't able to produce any real rarities or waves of migrants, and that Great Horned Owls appear to have eliminated my screech-owl spot which had been so consistent since the 1970s. But these setbacks were more than offset by our nice list of shorebirds (especially at Hills!), Gold 'N Plump's Cattle Egret (they probably taste just like chicken!), some remote, beautiful, but longspur-less pastures in Pipestone Co, Herb's Great-tailed Grackle spot, that handsome and cooperative young male Blue Grosbeak at Blue Mounds, and other highlights.

Thanks to David Smith at the Luverne Chamber of Commerce & the Gold 'N Plump folks for arranging access to those ponds; thanks to Nelvina for coming along on Saturday, for calling to arrange permission to enter Pipestone's sewage ponds, and for hosting us on Monday; thanks of course to Craig for his able assistance (I only had to fire him once); and thanks to all of you for your patience with the slow service at the Magnolia Steak House (but still an hour & 20 minutes short of my all-time record, and the dinner at the Pizza Ranch worked out just fine), and for being a part of another unique MBW!


R = seen/heard in Rock Co (mostly on May 26)

P = seen/heard in Pipestone Co (mostly on May 27)

M = seen/heard in Murray Co (mostly on May 28)

Canada Goose RPM

Wood Duck RPM

Gadwall PM

Mallard RPM

Blue-winged Teal RPM

Northern Shoveler RPM

Green-winged Teal R

Redhead PM

Lesser Scaup P

Hooded Merganser M

Ruddy Duck RPM

Gray Partridge PM (seldom seen any more on MBWs)

Ring-necked Pheasant RPM

"Wild" Turkey P (well, I'm counting it as new on MY Pipestone Co list!)

Pied-billed Grebe P

American White Pelican M

Double-crested Cormorant RPM

Great Blue Heron RPM

Great Egret M

Cattle Egret R (quite unexpected at the Luverne/Gold 'N Plump ponds)

Green Heron P

Turkey Vulture RM

Bald Eagle R

Northern Harrier PM

Broad-winged Hawk RP

Swainson’s Hawk PM

Red-tailed Hawk RPM

American Kestrel RPM

Virginia Rail PM (seen by Craig's group on Monday; also heard by all on Sunday)

American Coot RPM

Killdeer RPM

Black-necked Stilt R (#348 for the all-time MBW list)

Lesser Yellowlegs R

Spotted Sandpiper RPM

Upland Sandpiper RPM

Hudsonian Godwit R (2 back-lit birds in the puddle below the escarpment)

Sanderling R (quite uncommon there)

Semipalmated Sandpiper R

Least Sandpiper RP

White-rumped Sandpiper R

Baird’s Sandpiper P (3 late migrants)

Pectoral Sandpiper R

Stilt Sandpiper R (with the other Stilt at Hills)

Wilson’s Phalarope RP

Franklin’s Gull PM (also seen in Nobles Co)

Forster’s Tern PM

Black Tern RPM

Rock Pigeon RPM

Mourning Dove RPM

Great Horned Owl R (subsisting on screech-owls?)

Common Nighthawk RPM

Chimney Swift RP

Belted Kingfisher RP

Red-headed Woodpecker RPM

Red-bellied Woodpecker R (seen by Audrey & Nancy on Monday at Blue Mounds)

Downy Woodpecker RPM

Hairy Woodpecker M

Northern Flicker RPM

Olive-sided Flycatcher R (seen by Nelvina & Diana at Blue Mounds)

Eastern Wood-Pewee R

Alder Flycatcher RM (vocalizing late migrants)

Willow Flycatcher RP (best looks & listens at Blue Mounds)

Least Flycatcher RPM

Eastern Phoebe RP

Great Crested Flycatcher R

Western Kingbird RPM

Eastern Kingbird RPM

Warbling Vireo RPM

Philadelphia Vireo P (seen by a few at the Monument)

Red-eyed Vireo RPM

Blue Jay RPM

American Crow RPM

Horned Lark RM

Purple Martin RPM

Tree Swallow RPM

Northern Rough-winged Swallow RP

Bank Swallow R

Cliff Swallow RP

Barn Swallow RPM

Black-capped Chickadee RP

House Wren RPM

Sedge Wren RPM (good looks)

Marsh Wren PM (ditto)

Eastern Bluebird RP

Veery P

Swainson’s Thrush RPM

American Robin RPM

Gray Catbird RPM

Brown Thrasher RPM

European Starling RPM

Cedar Waxwing RPM

[Blue-winged Warbler / Williams Nature Center]

Tennessee Warbler P

Nashville Warbler P

Yellow Warbler RPM

Chestnut-sided Warbler RP

Magnolia Warbler P

Blackburnian Warbler P

Black-and-white Warbler M

American Redstart RPM

[Ovenbird / Williams Nature Center]

[Kentucky Warbler / Williams Nature Center]

Common Yellowthroat RPM

Wilson’s Warbler P

Canada Warbler P

Scarlet Tanager P (seen by Craig's group)

[Eastern Towhee / Williams Nature Center]

Chipping Sparrow RP

Clay-colored Sparrow RP

Field Sparrow RP

Vesper Sparrow RPM

Savannah Sparrow RPM

Grasshopper Sparrow RP

Song Sparrow RPM

Swamp Sparrow PM

Northern Cardinal RP

Rose-breasted Grosbeak M

Blue Grosbeak R (the blue-headed immature male was seen especially well)

Indigo Bunting RM

Dickcissel RP (also seen in Nobles Co)

Bobolink RPM (also seen in Nobles Co)

Red-winged Blackbird RPM

Western Meadowlark RPM

Yellow-headed Blackbird PM

Common Grackle RPM

Great-tailed Grackle P (thanks to a tip from Herb Dingmann)

Brown-headed Cowbird RPM

Orchard Oriole RP

Baltimore Oriole RPM

House Finch RP

American Goldfinch RPM

House Sparrow RPM

One of 8 Cattle Egrets  ~  Nobles County Road 57  ~  27 May (KRE “digiscope” image)

Eastern Screech-Owl  ~  Chautauqua Park, Worthington  ~  27 May (KRE “digibin” image)

Also see the 2012 and 2007 MBW summaries

following the summary of the 2016 MBWeekend

(Note that none of these MBWs included Jackson Co.,

although the species on the 2016 Nobles Co. pre-MBW are similar)



MAY 27 - 28 - 29 - 30, 2016