APRIL 2009 - FEBRUARY 2010 / OUR 24th SEASON



Minnesota Birding Weekends (MBWs), which began back in 1986, will again be directed by Kim R. Eckert, author of four editions of A Birder's Guide to Minnesota and birding tour guide for nearly 30 years. Our modest MBW fees and five-fold mission as we begin our 24th year still remain as a successful and popular combination:


To introduce participants to Minnesota's best birding places;

To find the specialty birds of these locales, and to enhance the county, state, and life lists of our participants;                         

To study both the basic and finer points of bird identification;

To meet other birders – we feature two-way radios to keep everyone in contact, a group dinner at day's end, plus

other personal touches which contribute to a sense of community;

And, to simply have fun – while we are serious about finding birds, our MBWs have long been characterized

by an easy-going approach, with a sense of humor always setting the tone.


We have now had a total of 282 MBWs, more than 5,300 registrations, and our composite bird list is 352 Minnesota species. The winter Birding Weeks in South Texas (our 23rd) and in California-Arizona are again being offered this season, along with new summer trips to Big Bend and Southeast Arizona! Continuing as well is our "Frequent Birders" Program, in which participants earn a $5 credit for each MBW attended, with the credits accumulating to earn free registrations on future MBWs.




Registration and fees for MBWs can be sent in at any time, are accepted on a “first-come-first-served" basis, and please note that some MBWs become filled weeks or months in advance. Maximum registration for most MBWs is 15 participants. More than one MBW can be included on a single registration form and on a single check: please make checks payable to Minnesota Birding Weekends. All MBW registrants must have access to an e-mail address. Unless a MBW is filled, checks are deposited as they are received and registrations are confirmed by e-mail.


Confirmed registrants canceling at least one week before a MBW will receive a refund of 80% of their registration fee (unless stated otherwise in the MBW's information); any refund for a later cancellation will depend on the individual circumstances. Those on waiting lists receive full refunds. There will be full/partial refunds for canceled/shortened MBWs.


The meeting time and place and other MBW information is sent by e-mail to those registered, usually about 3-4 weeks in advance of the MBW. Unless stated otherwise, MBWs normally begin at dawn on Saturday, end early to mid-afternoon on Sunday, and are typically based in the same city from Friday night until Sunday.


Transportation, meals, and lodging are normally not included in MBW fees, but arrangements can be made by participants to car pool to the base city or to share lodging – a list of those registered and lodging options in the base city are included with the MBW's e-mailed information. Participants will be able to bring their own food along for meals and/or to eat at restaurants, and our car-pooled birding caravans are normally limited to 4 vehicles as we travel.


All MBW participants are expected/encouraged to become members of Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union ($25 individual membership / $35 family; checks payable to MOU), and memberships can be included with MBW registrations.


The Friday-only, pre-Weekend options to mostly new counties (those not normally included on previous MBWs or covered by most birders) may be taken separately or in combination with the corresponding two-day MBWs in adjacent counties.


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April 11-12 / Rothsay Wildlife Management Area / $45

pre-MBW option / April 10 / Grant Co. (more extensive wetlands and woodlands than at Rothsay) / $30

Nowhere is the arrival of spring more dramatic than in western Minnesota as migrants of all kinds advance with winter's withdrawal. And at Rothsay WMA, booming prairie-chickens, staging Sandhill Cranes, early territorial Marbled Godwits, Short-eared Owls, Lapland (and possibly Smith's?) Longspurs will also be in evidence – and maybe Prairie Falcon, Mountain Bluebird, or some other western stray? (Base Fergus Falls)


May 2-3 / Cottonwood and Murray Counties / $45

pre-MBW option / May 1 / Watonwan Co. (a nice mix of overlooked habitats attractive to migrants) / $30

Cottonwood County, often passed over by those heading for nearby Jackson County, has plenty to see at such wetlands as Talcot Lake WMA, at wooded Pat's Grove and Red Rock county parks, and in Red Rock Prairie's grasslands. We will also explore adjacent Murray County, an even more neglected county, and concentrate there on Lake Shetek State Park and Chandler's Coteau des Prairies hillsides. (Base Windom)


May 23-24-25 / Northwestern Minnesota I / $75

pre-MBW option / May 22 / Kittson Co. (a visit to Minnesota's most remote and least-birded county) / $30

The attraction is obvious: places like Agassiz NWR, Beltrami Island State Forest, Thief River Falls (and other) sewage ponds; and possible birds like Least Bittern, Yellow Rail, Short-eared Owl, Whip-poor-will, Connecticut Warbler, and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Past May MBWs here have included a trip list of 25 shorebirds, nesting Mountain Bluebirds, displaying Sprague's Pipits, and in 1997 we set a MBW record of 195 species, with a wave of 24 warblers (including Yellow-throated) at Agassiz. (Base Thief River Falls)


June 20-21 / Clay County / $50

pre-MBW option / June 19 / Norman Co. (prairie birds in seldom-birded grasslands and woodlands) / $30

Among all of Minnesota's birding areas, Felton Prairie has long ranked as one of the best – this is where the now-casual Sprague's Pipits and Baird's Sparrows were once regular, and Chestnut-collared Longspurs still are. Other prairie specialties here include Swainson's Hawk, Upland Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Willow Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Grasshopper and LeConte's sparrows, and Orchard Oriole. (Base Moorhead)


July 3-4-5 / Lake County / $75 (Leader Craig Mandel)

post-MBW option / July 6 / Sax-Zim Bog (Minnesota's most renowned boreal bogs and meadows) / $20

This MBW, concentrated in the boreal landscapes of the vast Superior National Forest, will also serve as a song identification workshop for nesting passerines. Flycatchers, vireos (including Philadelphia), Boreal Chickadee, Winter Wren, kinglets, thrushes, warblers (20 species likely, including Black-throated Blue), sparrows, and many others will still be in song. With luck, we might turn up something rare, like a Spruce Grouse family, a Great Gray or N. Hawk owl, or American Three-toed Woodpeckers. (Base Silver Bay)


JULY 26 - AUGUST 1  /  BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK  /  $100 deposit

AUGUST 1 - 9  /  SOUTHEAST ARIZONA  /  $100 deposit

Join us for either – or both! – of these special Birding Weeks in the southwestern U.S., as we return to Southeast Arizona (where there have been nine previous late summer MBWs) and experience Big Bend National Park, a brand new and unique destination on the MBW schedule.

 Big Bend is probably our most remote national park, easily one of the most scenic, and renowned as the only U.S. site for Colima Warblers. Among the many southwestern specialties here (and at the nearby Davis Mountains), we also will especially search for Montezuma Quail, Mississippi Kite, Common Black-Hawk, Lucifer Hummingbird, Gray Flycatcher, Gray and Black-capped vireos, Cave Swallow, and Black-chinned Sparrow – all birds hard to find, or even absent, in Southeast Arizona.

The unique birds of the canyons and mountains of Southeast Arizona are more famous and accessible, and our return here has been long overdue. Gray and Zone-tailed hawks, owls (including Whiskered Screech and Spotted), at least a dozen hummingbirds, Elegant Trogon, Arizona Woodpecker, at least 15 flycatchers, Mexican Chickadee, Bendire's and Crissal thrashers, warblers (including Olive, Grace's, Red-faced, Painted Redstart), Hepatic Tanager, Botteri's and Five-striped sparrows, Yellow-eyed Junco, Varied Bunting, and Scott's Oriole are just a few of the too-numerous-to-mention possibilities.

Information on both MBWs will be sent in April about the itineraries, lodging, weather (July-August is the somewhat cooler "monsoon" season), and estimated costs: $650 Big Bend National Park / $800 Southeast Arizona (both double-occupancy; air fare and meals not included).


August 22-23 / Stevens - Traverse - Big Stone Counties / $45

pre-MBW option / Aug. 21 / Swift Co. (additional wetlands, shorebird mudflats, and woodlands) / $30

With good reason we will again visit Traverse County's excellent wetlands and remnant prairie grasslands, with Clark's Grebe, White-faced Ibis, Henslow’s and Le Conte’s sparrows all occurring in recent summers. There are also numerous wetlands (and sewage ponds) in Big Stone County, and this is the peak time and best part of the state for finding shorebirds (20 species likely) and concentrating on their ID. (Base Morris)


September 5-6-7 / Northwestern Minnesota II / $70

pre-MBW option / Sept. 4 / Clearwater Co. (extensive mix of boreal habitats near Lower Red Lake) / $30

Our seventh Labor Day MBW in this corner of the state will again include Agassiz NWR, Thief Lake and other remote WMAs, and Lake of the Woods and other sites on the Canadian border (which are not on our Memorial Day itinerary). With little birding here in fall, the possibilities are many, less predictable than in spring, with 150+ species likely, often highlighted by 20 species of shorebirds and warblers each, and by previous rarities such as Prairie Falcon, Red Knots, and 2007's adult Long-tailed Jaeger! (Base Roseau)


September 26 / Duluth I  / $20       

September 27 / Duluth II  / $20

Join us again for either (or both) of these now-traditional one-day trips in Duluth and vicinity, as we scour Lake Superior, Park Point, and the North Shore from Stony Point to Two Harbors for migrants of all kinds – rarities included. In recent Septembers, for example, just at Park Point: Red Phalarope, Little, California and Sabine's gulls, Arctic Tern, all 3 jaegers, Say’s Phoebe, and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. (Base Duluth)


October 17-18 / Marsh Lake - Lac Qui Parle - Big Stone N.W.R. / $40

pre-MBW option / Oct. 16 / Yellow Medicine Co. (sites outside the river valley near the S.D. line) / $25

While birders tend to visit these famous lakes and refuge lands in spring, the birding here loses none of its appeal during fall migration. In October, this stretch of the Minnesota River Valley and its unique mosaic of wetlands, granite outcrops, juniper groves, riparian woodlands, and grasslands also attract waterbirds, raptors, passerines, plus perhaps a Spotted Towhee or another western rarity or two. (Base Montevideo).


November 7-8 / North Shore of Lake Superior / $40

Brant, King Eider, Yellow-billed Loon, Purple Sandpiper, Black-legged Kittiwake, Ancient and Long-billed murrelets, Anna's Hummingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Fieldfare, Sage Thrasher: all recent North Shore November records! More likely are Long-tailed Duck, all three scoters, Pacific Loon, Thayer’s Gull, Townsend's Solitaire, Bohemian Waxwing, winter finches, and more. (Base Duluth and Grand Marais)


January 9-10, 2010 / Duluth III  / $35

Little wonder this Weekend is such an annual tradition, with Sharp-tailed Grouse, Great Gray, Snowy and

N. Hawk owls, Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Boreal Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing, and winter finches all among the specialties. Also, some not unexpected rarities have included Harlequin Duck, Spruce Grouse, Gyrfalcon, Am. Three-toed Woodpecker, Varied Thrush, and many others. (Base Duluth)


[• JANUARY 16 - 24, 2010  /  CALIFORNIA & ARIZONA  (Co-Leader Craig Mandel)]

Coastal and montane habitats near San Diego, the Salton Sea, the Yuma and Phoenix areas of Arizona, and canyons and grasslands near Tucson will combine to produce well over 200 species. This Birding Week is already filled with 8 on the waiting list – sorry, no additional registrations are being taken at this time.


FEBRUARY 6 - 14, 2010  /  SOUTH TEXAS  /  $100 deposit

During this Birding Week, our 23rd to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, we can expect a long list of birds not found in Minnesota, many of which normally occur nowhere else in the U.S. – Muscovy Duck, Plain Chachalaca, Least Grebe, Hook-billed Kite, White-tailed Hawk, Red-billed Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, Green Parakeet, Red-crowned Parrot, Groove-billed Ani, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Common Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Green Jay, Black-crested Titmouse, Clay-colored Robin, Tropical Parula, White-collared Seedeater, Olive Sparrow, Altamira and Audubon's orioles, and more. Mexican strays occur almost every year, and 200+ species are expected. Information is sent in November about the itinerary, lodging, cost (last year about $750 double-occupancy + air fare + meals), and weather (normal highs in the 70s – some 50 degrees warmer than in Minneapolis).

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MINNESOTA  BIRDING  WEEKENDS  REGISTRATION  (please photocopy this form as needed)


NAME(s)  ____________________________________________________________________________  


E-MAIL address  _________________________________________  (Note: an e-mail address is required on all MBW registrations – confirmations of registrations and the information on all MBWs will only be sent by e-mail)


U.S. mail address  ______________________________________________________________________


Telephone(s)  _________________________    _________________________  (Note: address and telephone numbers not needed if you have previously registered for an MBW and your contact information has not changed)  


WEEKEND  ___________________________________   $ _____ MBW fee x ___ person(s) = $ _______


   Others included in this registration: ___________________________________           


WEEKEND  ___________________________________   $ _____ MBW fee x ___ person(s) = $ _______


   Others included in this registration: ___________________________________           


WEEKEND  ___________________________________   $ _____ MBW fee x ___ person(s) = $ _______


   Others included in this registration: ___________________________________      


TOTAL:  $ __________  (multiple MBWs can be included on one check)


Please make checks payable to:



c/o Kim R. Eckert

1921 West Kent Road

Duluth, Minnesota 55812


Participants are encouraged to join the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union ($25 individual / $35 family); membership dues on a separate check payable to MOU may be included with your MBW registration.


Questions?   Contact  Kim  Eckert   /   telephone  (218) 349-5953   /   e-mail  <eckertkr@gmail.com>