This early-April MBW in 2011 covered Lac Qui Parle

and other nearby counties, Traverse included.



April 8 - 9 - 10, 2011

Paul and I only wish that male Mountain Bluebird we found Sunday afternoon on the way home had been available to the whole MBW group to see, but at least Herb & Linda happened to still be in the vicinity and could share in the observation. So, we can't really add this to our official list (same goes for our Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Herb's early Forster's Tern, both seen in Morris after we adjourned), so we ended up with an even total of 100 species for the 3 days.

Among this MBW's highlights was the weather: overcast, wet at times, windy, and on the cold side for all 3 days. Remember, though, this is Minnesota in early April, so we can't whine too much. However, it was disconcerting on Sunday to be in wet and windy 40-degree weather while it reached the 70s in Minneapolis. 

There were plenty of avian highlights as well, of course. A very early American Avocet was a surprise along Lac Qui Parle CR 7 on Saturday, as was that equally early Cattle Egret near Herman on Sunday. Other unexpected, earlier-than-normal finds included 2 American Bitterns in Swift Co, Friday's Swainson's Hawk in Yellow Medicine Co (plus another on Saturday in Lac Qui Parle Co), American Golden-Plovers in Lac Qui Parle Co, and Marbled Godwits in Big Stone Co.

We finally caught up to the tail-end of the goose and swan migration on Sunday in Traverse Co, which included a spectacular concentration of perhaps 5,000 Tundra Swans near Wheaton, with an estimated 3,400 of these in one flooded field. Of note as well were all those handsome, breeding-plumaged male Lapland Longspurs which posed nicely for us in Lac Qui Parle Co (even if no Smith's Longspur could be detected in the flock).

As always, thanks to all of you for coming along on this first MBW of our 26th season. It was especially nice to have Bill, Pete M, and Kurt along on their very first MBW, and, of course, we all appreciated Paul's patience (with me!) and co-leading skills (with Paul available to help out, Craig is definitely fired!).


- April 8 pre-MBW option mostly in Yellow Medicine (Y)

- April 9 in Swift (S), Big Stone (B), and Lac Qui Parle (L) = my group

- April 9 in Lac Qui Parle only (L) = Paul's group 

- April 10 mostly in Grant (G) and Traverse (T) = both groups

Greater White-fronted Goose     G,T

Snow Goose     T

Ross's Goose     T (total of 7 at 3 sites)

Cackling Goose     G,T

Canada Goose     

Tundra Swan     G,T (~5,000 total near Wheaton!?)

Wood Duck     


American Wigeon     


Blue-winged Teal     

Northern Shoveler     

Northern Pintail     (why so few?)

Green-winged Teal



Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup     S,B

Lesser Scaup


Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Gray Partridge     T (2; Paul's group)

Ring-necked Pheasant

Wild Turkey     Y only

Common Loon

Pied-billed Grebe

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican

American Bittern     S (2; my group)

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Cattle Egret     G (spotted by Jeff near the Brant site)

Black-crowned Night-Heron     G (3; Paul's group)

Turkey Vulture     Y only

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Swainson's Hawk     Y,L

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel

American Coot

American Golden-Plover     L (Paul's group)


American Avocet     L (along CR 7)

Greater Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Marbled Godwit     B,L (total of 4; my group) 

Wilson's Snipe

American Woodcock     L (Paul's group)

Bonaparte's Gull

Franklin's Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull     B (probably on the SD side of Big Stone L)

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove     Y (Hanley Falls, Canby, Burr), S (Appleton), G (Herman), and in Milan, Chippewa Co

Mourning Dove

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker     only on April 8 flying over Montevideo, Chippewa Co 

Eastern Phoebe

Blue Jay

American Crow

Horned Lark

Tree Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper     Y only

Winter Wren     S,L (heard-only; my group)

Eastern Bluebird

Hermit Thrush     Y only

American Robin

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Lapland Longspur     best views in L

Snow Bunting     L (Paul's group)

Yellow-rumped Warbler     G (2; my group)

American Tree Sparrow     why so few?

Vesper Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow     L (Paul's group)

Fox Sparrow     the most common sparrow in Y     

Song Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco     why so few?

Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird     S (female w/dark iris IDed by Jeff)

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

House Finch

House Sparrow

Mountain Bluebird, Swift County, afternoon of April 10

(alas! – too late to include on this MBW's trip list)

KRE photo