North Ottawa Impoundment  ~  Howard Towle photo

Traverse I MBW

April 7 in Traverse, Stevens, Grant, Big Stone

April 8 in Stevens, Big Stone, Traverse

From Craig... The weather played an important role on the Traverse County I MBW. On Thursday, we experienced NW winds of 25 mph, with gusts to 50 mph, and light snow for portions of the day. So, most of our birding was done from the vehicles. But what made this into one of those magical birding days were the sheer numbers of birds that the weather held in the area. Tens of thousands of geese, including Snow, Greater White-fronted, and Ross's were observed in flocks on the ground and in continuous skeins in flight. Tundra Swans were heard and seen in large groups as well. There were also fields with 100s of Lapland Longspurs, and one of our final sightings of the day was a flock of 1000s of blackbirds that descended on the town of Browns Valley. 


The weather cleared for our Friday adventure, although at times the winds were so strong I found it nearly impossible to open my car door! Other highlights included the fleeing cottontail rabbit that just missed my head as it jumped past me at the White Rock WMA, and getting to see a couple of white-tailed jackrabbits. 

Traverse II MBW

April 8 afternoon pre-MBW in Stevens, Pope

April 9 in Stevens, Big Stone, Traverse, Grant

April 10 in Stevens, Grant  

While no one had a cottontail blown into their face on Traverse II, we did manage to see a mink in the middle of a Stevens County back road on Sunday morning. We also managed to escape the brutal winds that forced the first group to bird from the cars most of the time. Yes, it was too windy on Friday afternoon and on Saturday, but it was nothing we hadn’t seen before out on the prairie. Sunday even bought us nearly pleasant weather as the winds died down to barely noticeable, the temperatures flirted with 50 degrees (not the 30s that Craig et al. endured), and the rain promised in the forecast never developed. Naturally, we were able to come up with more species than Traverse I with the moderate weather, and the two groups combined produced a composite species list in the mid-90s.

At first, though, it looked like most of the geese on Traverse I had left the area, as we failed to come up with any huge flocks until late Saturday afternoon. Small numbers of all the geese were found, and a nice variety of ducks was seen in several places, along with the sights and sounds of both swan species. But finally we came across a flooded area in northeastern Traverse with an estimated 9,000-10,000 Greater White-fronted Geese, and a short time later we found all the Snow Geese at the North Ottawa impoundment. Our guesses put the number of Snows (mixed with Ross’s) at a minimum of 15,000, though there may have been over 20,000 of them, plus several thousand white-fronteds as well. As Howard’s photo above suggests, it was quite a sight (and sound!) when they all took off and resettled into a nearby part of the impoundment.  

Other highlights on Traverse II were a lone (and injured?) Snow Bunting stumbling around on the ice on East Toqua Lake, nice looks at Lapland Longspurs (some of the males in near-breeding plumage) in a field and puddle near Wheaton, a pair of out-of-range Common Ravens at Pine Ridge County Park (that may have been nesting?!), and we ended our MBW with a lone Sandhill Crane flying across Hwy. 9 as we approached Morris.   –KRE

Bird List

- Traverse I = 76 species (incl. 3 not seen on II)

- Traverse II = 91 species (incl. 18 not seen on I)

- composite total = 94 species

Snow Goose

Ross’s Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose

Cackling Goose               II only

Canada Goose

Trumpeter Swan

Tundra Swan

Wood Duck

Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler


American Wigeon


Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal



Ring-necked Duck

Greater Scaup               II only

Lesser Scaup


Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser               II only

Wild Turkey

Ring-necked Pheasant

Pied-billed Grebe

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

American Coot

Sandhill Crane               II only


Least Sandpiper               I only

American Woodcock               I only

Greater Yellowlegs               II only

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Common Loon               II only

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican               II only

Great Blue Heron

Turkey Vulture

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Bald Eagle

Red-tailed Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk               II only

Belted Kingfisher               II only

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

American Kestrel

Merlin               I only

Eastern Phoebe

Blue Jay

American Crow

Common Raven               II only

Black-capped Chickadee

Horned Lark

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Cedar Waxwing               II only

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

European Starling

Eastern Bluebird               II only

Hermit Thrush

American Robin

House Sparrow

House Finch

Purple Finch               II only

Lapland Longspur

Snow Bunting               II only

Fox Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Vesper Sparrow               II only

Song Sparrow

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Rusty Blackbird

Brewer’s Blackbird               II only

Common Grackle

Yellow-rumped Warbler               II only

Northern Cardinal               II only


April 7-8 and April 8-10, 2022