Book Review

Butterfly Gardening: North American Butterfly Association Guide, by Jane Hurwitz 

Published by Princeton University Press 

This very attractive book is a good introduction to gardening for butterflies. Interspersed with lots of great photos you will find an overview of the main butterfly families and some guidance on identification. If you have enjoyed some butterflies in your yard and are thinking about making it more attractive to a wider variety of butterflies, this book is a good place to start. 

Some butterfly books and articles focus only on nectar plants for your garden, but this book spends equal time on the plants that support the caterpillars. You will see that various species feed on grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees. 

I also learned that not all butterflies consume flower nectar; some eat tree sap, rotting fruit and animal dung. This isn’t going to help you select plants for your front yard, but you might consider setting up a hanging shelf for watermelon rinds or other fruit. 

Nearly half the book describes gardens and gardening tips for different parts of the country. The two chapters most relevant for our area are “Butterfly Gardening with Trees: Eastern Deciduous Forest” and “Prairie-Plant Inspired Butterfly Gardens: the Grasslands”. 

In the Resources – Plant and Garden Design section of Butterfly Gardening, I was pleased to see Heather Holm’s book Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants. 

You will also want to look for local plant information – e.g. the plant list at http://nababutterfly.com/regional-butterfly-garden-guides/ and click on the Minneapolis one, written by Kathy Heidel. Some of you will remember Kathy Heidel from her years as a naturalist with Three Rivers Park District and the MRVAC bird ID classes she co-taught with Karol Gressor. 

Or try the plant list from the Xerces Society: https://xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/plant-lists/ 

If you want detailed information on Minnesota native plants including photos of the plant in all stages of development with details on growth habit, bloom time, color and where it is found in the state, visit https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/ 

August 18: Henderson Hummingbird Hurrah

Birds, Butterflies & Blooms

Produced by Henderson Feathers

9 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Rain or Shine!

  • Bender Park: 200 N. Third Street
  • Minnesota New Country School (MNCS): 210 Main Street
  • Garden: Corner of 4th Street & Oak Street

9:00 am – noon: Hummingbird Banding in the garden

9:30 am – 10:30 am: Garden Tour – Master gardener Sarah Malchow

9:30 am: Painting with Lana Beck…$15 fee (2 hour Session)
(Limited Class Size of 12, please pre-register at 507-665-6570 to save a spot!)

10:45 am – 11:30 am: David Rice, Gardener/Instructor (MNCS Speaker)

12:30 pm: Painting with Lana Beck…$15 fee (2 hour Session)
(Limited Class Size of 12, please pre-register at 507-665-6570 to save a spot!)

1:00 pm – 1:45 pm: Donald Mitchell, Master Gardener (MNCS Speaker)

1:45 pm – 2:30 pm: Garden Tour – Master gardener Jackie Smith

2:45 pm – 3:45 pm: Al Batt, Author & Humorist (MNCS Speaker)
Educational Displays: MN River Valley Audubon Chapter
Monarchs – MN Ext. Blue Earth County, Cody Sievert – Bees & More!

4:00 pm: Drawing for Raffle Prizes! Need not be present to win!

9:00 am – 4:00 pm: Children’s Activities – MNCS Library
Includes Coloring Contest / Cash Prizes!!!
Lillipop Clown, Face Painting & More!
Hummingbird Mall Vendors… Food… Raffle Prizes!!!

FREE Fun for the Whole Family!

Bluebird Monitors Wanted

Wanted: A monitor to check an Eastern Bluebird trail at Southview Golf Course: 239 Mendota Rd E, West St Paul, MN 55118.

Duties include checking a dozen bluebird boxes once/week starting May 1st for a minimum of 12 weeks.

One line abbreviated notes are taken and summarized at the end of the year to report results to BBRP (Bluebird Recovery Program). Training and data will be provided.

Contact Jack Hauser at jgshauser@gmail.com or call 952-831-8132

Wetland Monitoring Opportunity

Hennepin County is seeking citizen scientists to gather data about the health of wetlands in their communities. Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP) volunteers will work with other citizen scientists to monitor bugs and plants in wetlands. No experience is required, but an interest in wetlands, bugs and/or plants is encouraged. Hennepin County provides all of the training, equipment, and leadership.

Teams will be formed in the Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Corcoran, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Medina, Minneapolis, Minnetonka and Plymouth areas. Everyone is welcome in these cities and neighboring communities to join a team.

Applications will be accepted through June 1. For more information, contact Mary Karius at mary.karius@hennepin.us or 612-596-9129

World Migratory Bird Day Event at the Refuge

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge will debut the Discover Nature App, a new mobile guide and trivia game, during World Migratory Bird Day festivities Saturday, May 12, at the Refuge.

The Discover Nature App guides visitors as they explore three units of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, providing points of interest and information on the Refuge’s diverse wildlife, habitat and history. The app also offers a family-friendly trivia game to play while visiting the Refuge. Interactive features allow users to upload and share their own experiences and photos of Refuge wildlife and habitat.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and partners will also host a special event that day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day at the Refuge’s Bloomington Visitor Center. Visitors can learn how to download and use the app, then walk Refuge trails on their own or join a Discover Nature walk at 12:30 p.m.

The May 12 event will also include a program by the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, bird-themed arts and crafts activities, mist netting and bird banding, and more.

The Discover Nature App is available now for free by searching for “Discover Nature” on iTunes or Google Play. Download the three Minnesota Valley units ahead of time to come prepared. The app will automatically open up when users arrive at the Bloomington, Rapids Lake or Louisville Swamp Units of the Refuge. Maps with access points and trails information are available on the Refuge website, fws.gov/refuge/Minnesota_Valley/map.html.

The Refuge’s Bloomington Visitor Center is located at 3815 American Blvd. E., Bloomington, Minnesota, 55425.

Visitors are encouraged to wear weather-appropriate clothing and shoes, and to pack a lunch or snacks if they plan to stay for the day.

For Refuge information, visit fws.gov/refuge/minnesota_valley/ or call 952-854-5900.

Red-headed Woodpecker Recovery Project

Research Team Final Report for MRVAC for 2017 Summer Research Season

By Keith Olstad November 25, 2017 

Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker, courtesy USFWS

Last December, our Red-headed Woodpecker (RHWO) Recovery research team submitted a grant application to the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Club. Our primary request was for funds to defray expenses for increased volunteer and professional field-work to begin to answer these questions:

  1. What factors govern RHWO nest productivity and survival of juveniles into the next year?
  2. What “internal” factors (e.g., sex, body condition, etc.) and/or “external” factors (e.g., food availability, weather, population density) drive RHWO to overwinter at Cedar Creek ecosystem Science Reserve (CCESR) or migrate
  3. Where do RHWO go when they migrate? Do they migrate to the same place each year?

We were deeply gratified to receive a $3,000 grant from the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter. We express a small part of our gratitude with this report on the application of these funds to critical research done this past summer, and offer to do a program for MRVAC detailing our work to date.

With support from a variety of funding sources (as reported in our initial grant proposal), we were able to hire a post-doctoral research coordinator, Dr. Elena West, to coordinate the work of our field research team. Dr. West worked half-time through the summer, and will continued to work this fall through December to analyze our data and formulate our research field work for 2018. Working with Dr. West at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (CCESR) were two full time seasonal research assistants, Candace Stenzel and Jesse Beck. Resources provided by MRVAC defrayed expenses for field work done at CCESR by this team and by about thirty-six volunteer “citizen scientists”, and helped with laboratory expenses for data analysis.

During the course of the summer, the field research team “processed” sixty-six RHWO at CCESR, fifty adults and sixteen nestlings/fledglings. (“Processed” refers to capturing, banding, taking measurements, drawing blood samples and feather samples for DNA analysis, and possible use of location devices, listed below.) Thirty-nine RHWO were newly banded, and twenty-two nests were monitored. Twenty adults were outfitted with geo-GPS backpacks, of which eight were recovered in late summer and early fall, meaning that CPS and/or geo-locator data were gathered from these birds. Fifteen juveniles were “marked” with radio backpacks, allowing their movement to be tracked. In all, seventy-two birds were captured.

Parallel to the work of the field research technicians, thirty-six citizen science volunteers contributed 1,550 hours to the 2017 summer RHWO research season. They worked on five specific projects:

  1. RHWO nest location
  2. 2. RHWO parental effort in feeding nestlings
  3. Food use identification
  4. Oak tree tagging
  5. Nest cavity porthole installation

Data collected to date will be analyzed for preliminary results during late fall and early winter of 2017. Blood samples taken from summer RHWO captures will receive lab analysis over the 2017-18 winter. Spring 2018 recaptures of transmitter birds will allow downloading data regarding winter locations of these RHWOs.

In addition to the research conducted on RHWO, over the summer fifteen guided hikes and programs about this project, led by RHWO Recovery Project volunteers, provided rich educational opportunities to over 200 people at CCESR.

The research team of the RHWO Recovery Project created a partnership with Dr. Henry Streby at the University of Toledo, who is initiating similar research in Ohio and other states. This partnership will make it possible to compare different population’s genetic patterns and adult and juvenile activities on a broader geographic scale for more conclusive research results.

A new round of grant requests will be issued in the coming months to support and expand our exciting research.

Please feel free to contact me with further questions or concerns about our project’s use of your grant, and to explore setting up a program for MRVAC detailing our work and our vision for future work. And thank you once again for your most generous contribution to the recovery of this splendid bird.

Contacts: Keith Olstad, Convener, Research Team, RHWO Recovery Project (612) 940-1534

Chet Meyers, chair of the Red-headed Woodpecker Recovery Project (612) 374-5581

Audubon Chapter of the North Woods Receives Century Farm

By Bryan Wood, Audubon Center of the North Woods

Ruby & Roger Trapp

Once in a while, an act of generosity leaves you humbled by its magnitude. You can’t help but take a step back, astounded by the goodness of people and their desire to want to leave the world a better place. You marvel at the kindness individuals can show through an organization transformational gift and during these times saying thank you to them simply isn’t adequate. They deserve much more as you try and adequately express your profound gratitude.

Roger and Ruby Trapp are those people. With the substantial help of Audubon Center of the North Woods Board Member Susan VanGorden, Mr. and Mrs. Trapp this summer completed a land transfer of their 101-acre century farm to the Audubon Center of the North Woods. This land, which marks the north boundary of ACNW’s property, has been in Roger’s family since his grandfather Alfred McKay purchased it in 1900. Roger was born there and grew up on the farm that produced flowers, produce, pick-your-own raspberries, chickens, turkeys and cattle. The farm is still in operation today, producing corn.

Of the 101 acre tract the Trapps gifted to ACNW, 48 acres is tilled farmland, with the remaining 53 acres a mix of beautiful hardwood and conifer stands. This land gift would be met with great enthusiasm at any time, but is especially exciting now as it fits into ACNW’s larger plan to have a working educational farm in the future. Food in many aspects is where we each have the largest impact on our planet. Indeed, 70% of all human land use is for food production and the current food system is heavily reliant on fossil fuels for fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, production and distribution. The average item on an American’s plate has traveled 2,000 miles. With our population expected to reach over 9 billion by 2050 and climate change threatening to reduce crop yields by 25%, our ability to feed the world, while caring for our planet is of paramount importance. A United Nations study concluded that the only way to sustainably do that is through local, polyculture farms that are more resistant to disease and less energy intensive.

Over the coming years, ACNW plans to turn the 48 acres of farmland into an organic, polyculture farm where produce, permaculture, pollinators, free-range poultry and grass-fed beef intermingle to provide food for our meals served at the Dining Hall. With the farm contiguous to our existing property, it easily allows for myriad educational opportunities with our K-12 schools, summer camps, post-secondary courses and adult programs. This all will require funds to build up the farm and its infrastructure and efforts will now begin towards securing those funds.

In a way, the Audubon Center of the North Woods is coming full circle. Our existence is due to the generosity of the Schwyzer family donating their farm to become a nature sanctuary and in our first 48 years, environmental education has been taught primarily through nature study.

Today, there is increasing interest in society on where our food comes, the impact it has on our land and water, and how we can make more environmentally conscious choices. As we approach our 50th anniversary, we are poised to expand our environmental programs to include agriculture through a working, educational farm that will provide learning opportunities for individuals and empower them to grow or raise more of their own food and make informed choices. And we have Roger and Ruby Trapp to thank for that. Their farm and legacy will live on as it educates and inspires for generations to come. “We believe in getting kids outside, and want others to enjoy the farm as I have.” Roger said. We invite you to join us in expressing our deepest gratitude to Roger and Ruby, and to join us on this exciting journey ahead.

We Need Good People! Volunteer Opportunities

MRVAC can always use volunteers for both short term projects and longer term commitments.

Treasurer  Bob Williams will retire as Treasurer in May 2018. He is willing to coach the new Treasurer through the first year. Duties include checking the PO Box, depositing checks, paying bills and reporting on account balance, income and expenses and keeping current with state and federal filings. bxwilliams@cbburnet.com

Board members  meet once a month. During the meetings, the board makes decisions about spending money (i.e. the grants offered by the chapter – see more about past awards on the web: http://mrvac.org/grants/ ) responds to requests. The board also plans ways to raise money, attract members and increase diversity.

Board members periodically take on a special project approved by the board like helping with the fundraising auction, planning a special celebration, finding volunteers to help with an event at the refuge, attracting new and retaining existing members, recruiting speakers, helping partner organizations (e.g. 2 board members led 2 field trips for East Side Neighborhood Services, related to their grant).

There is no immediate opening on the board, but interested persons could start attending meetings now to get up-to-speed! Contact Rick Magee, MRVAC secretary or any other board member: rrickvex@live.com

Membership chair  – welcome everyone attending the monthly meetings (make sure someone is at the nametag table) send the annual renewal mailing to local members and work with National as needed to keep membership list up to date. (Greg Burnes is filling in for now.) gburnes@comcast.net

Newsletter editor  – Anne Hanley would like to take a break for 2 years until she retires. If someone could fill in, that would be marvelous! anne_hanley90@hotmail.com

Field trip leaders and assistants  If interested, contact Cheri Fox at cherifoxj@gmail.com

MRVAC 50th Anniversary Celebration Report

Bob Janssen introduces speaker Al Batt

The 50th  Anniversary celebration on September 28 was a wonderful evening. It included delicious snacks including Italian bruschetta trays, fruit plates and caprese skewers from Kowalski’s, organized by Betsy Magee and Robin Kutz. In addition to the savory snacks, there was a magnificent cake – marble with white frosting and a teal MRVAC logo in the center.

As people checked in, they had an opportunity to get their photo taken in front of their favorite Chef Eric Gideon Baker’s photo in the gallery.

Thanks to our photographer-extraordinaire for the evening, Media Mike Hazard!

Bob Janssen introduced Al Batt with a story about how Al promised to show him a black billed cuckoo in Freeborn County but somehow Bob never did get see a black billed cuckoo – and is still missing one for his Freeborn County list.

Al Batt told delightful stories about how his love of birds started along with moving examples of how individuals have made a difference, making the world better for people and birds.

He describes Freeborn county residents enlisting local business to clean up Albert Lea Lake (including pulling a quarter of a steer out of the lake and depositing it in the Hormel board room), Owen Johnson’s persistence in building local support and persuading the legislature to create Myre-Big Island State Park to his father taking time out from milking cows to watch a Snowy Owl with young Al, as well as Al’s own commitment to taking children out birding.

His talk ended with ‘Thanks for all you do’, reminding us again that we can each make a difference.

Robin Kutz wheels in the food.
Betsy Magee sets up in the Visitor Center.

Holiday Auction! Thursday, November 16

Get some of your holiday shopping done, have fun and raise money to support a variety of environmental education projects. Come and bid often, bid high and have fun doing it for our environmental education program!

If you can donate auction items or provide refreshments, thank you!!

Where: Our annual fundraising auction will be held at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center: 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington

When: Thursday November 16, 2017 at 5:30-9:00 pm

  • 5:30 pm  Drop off auction donations, check out the items on offer and enjoy  refreshments.
  • 6:45 – 8:15 pm  Live auction – Mark Lystig and Scott Clark team up again. If you attended in past years, you know they are not to be missed!
  • 8:15 – 8:55 pm check out and clean up

Why: Raise money for Refuge needs and other environmental education projects

Who: You and your friends. Please come to the Auction and buy something – we’ll have items in every price range.

  1. Make plans to drop off your contribution ahead of time. Coordinate with Anne: 952-936-0811(h), anne_hanley90@hotmail.com
  2. Please let Robin Kutz know if you can bring some snacks. Call her at 612-723-2632 or email robinkutz13@gmail.com
  3. If you need to bring your items on Thursday evening, please make every effort to deliver them between 5:30 and 6:15 pm so people can preview your items before the bidding starts.

To tempt you to attend, here are some Auction items we know about so far:

  • Vortex Raptor 8.5×32 Binoculars, retail value $99.99. Quality porro prisms; mid-size, wide angle design featuring waterproof, fog-proof construction and fully multi-coated optics -delivers a bright, crisp image with excellent color fidelity—even in low light conditions. This binocular can be easily adjusted to fit anyone.
  • Tripod for camera or scope
  • Monopod
  • Bird feeders: tube type, new
  • 2-volume boxed set of the 1966 Original Water Color Paintings of John James Audubon. It is in mint condition.
  • Bavarian Mints (Rita Baden)
  • Krumkake ($10 flat rate per dozen) (Cheri Fox)
  • Bread
  • Wine
  • Gift certificates
  • Ceramics
  • Ugandan basket (red, pine green, tan and brown with white accents)
  • Ugandan handcrafted 28” multi-strand beaded necklace (cinnamon and lime green colored)
  • Bird of your choice custom crossstitched on clothing or household item (sandhill crane, scissor tailed flycatcher, red bellied woodpecker, etc)
  • Bald Eagle plush toy 9” tall, Jaag brand