October 25: Wildlife on the Edge – Conservation in New Zealand

Presented by Jordana Whyte: Trustee, New Zealand Sea Lion Trust 

Sea Lions, courtesy of New Zealand Sea Lion Trust (Facebook)

New Zealand is home to some of the world’s most unique and endangered wildlife. After relocating several years ago, “Kiwi-sotan” Jordana Whyte threw herself into conservation in her new hometown of Dunedin, known as the Wildlife Capital of New Zealand, on the South Island. She will share some of her conservation experiences and the treasured native species found on the edge of the world, including the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguin.

Thursday, October 25

  • 7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies
  • 7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail). The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.

September 27: How to find the rare and unexpected birds

Presented by Ben Douglas, http://bigdouglas.blogspot.com

Black-throated blue warbler, Ben Douglas

In 2017, Ben Douglas found 243 species in Washington County, including 3 first and second county records. He will share stories that draw upon previous experience including his 2018 State Park Big Year where he visited all 73 State Parks and Recreation Areas in just 7 months. Ben will explain his process for maximizing his county and year list, finding rarities and show you how you can transform the way you birdwatch. Also, he will share the equipment he uses to easily document his finds. 

Thursday, September 27

  • 7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies
  • 7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail). The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.

June 28: MRVAC Potluck & Red-headed Woodpecker Presentation

Please join us for a guided bird walk, a pot-luck picnic, and a great presentation. This event is open to anyone – members, friends, prospective members and fans of Red-headed Woodpeckers.

Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker, courtesy USFWS

5:30: Short guided bird walk

  • Bring your binoculars – some loaner pairs will be available and there should be a few spotting scopes there as well.

6:15: Annual pot-luck dinner

  • Please bring some food to share and your own plate, utensils and glass or cup as we are aiming for a waste-free evening.
  • MRVAC will supply drinks and cake.

7:00: Red-headed Woodpecker presentation

Thursday, June 28

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail). The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.

April 26: Monitoring Minnesota Bats

by Melissa Boman – Minnesota Biological Survey, MN DNR

Little Brown Bat, Myotis lucifugus

Bats are an incredible mammal species that provide us with many ecological benefits. Learn about the different species of bats in Minnesota and how the deadly disease, White-nose Syndrome will impact bats in the state and across North America.

Bat survey specialist Melissa Boman will discuss ongoing monitoring conducted by the Minnesota Biological Survey and measures you can take to contribute to bat conservation.

Thursday, April 26

  • 7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies
  • 7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail). The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.

March 22: Minnesota’s Birds: What We Thought We Knew, What We Now Know, What We Still Don’t Know

by Bob Dunlap – Minnesota DNR, President of Minnesota Ornithologist’s Union

Great horned owl, Bubo virginianus

We’ve learned a few things about Minnesota’s birds since the turn of the century. Bob Dunlap, a zoologist with the MN Department of Natural Resources and current president of the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union, will guide us through some new insights and new frontiers for birding in Minnesota.

Thursday, March 22

  • 7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies
  • 7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail). The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.

February 22: Water Birds of the North Ottawa Impoundment, Grant County

by Christine Herwig – Minnesota DNR, Nongame Wildlife Program

Black-necked Stilt, Frank Schulenburg/Flickr Creative Commons

Christine Herwig, Regional Nongame Specialist for Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Wildlife Program, will discuss waterbird use at North Ottawa Impoundment located in Grant County. This impoundment was created to reduce floods along the Red River but has a secondary benefit of providing habitat to birds. Christine will talk about the monitoring efforts and some of the rare and unusual species that have been observed.

Thursday, February 22

  • 7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies
  • 7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail). The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.

January 25: Penguins in the Antarctic

by Katy Shannon, Naturalist 

Gentoo Penguins, courtesy of audubon.org

During the winter of 2015 – 2016, when the Larsen 3 ice-shelf was still intact on the Antarctic Peninsula, my son and I had the adventure of a lifetime! We went on an expedition to the Falkland Islands, the South Georgia Islands, the Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. During the voyage we saw seven different types of penguins and many other birds and mammals. I am excited to share our sightings and experiences, and a little info about the region with you.

Thursday, January 25

  • 7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies
  • 7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail). The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.

October 26: The Greater Prairie Chicken

Presented by Greg Hoch, Minnesota DNR

For ten months of the year, the Greater Prairie Chicken’s drab colors allow it to disappear into the landscape. However, in April and May this grouse is one of the most outrageously flamboyant birds in North America. Competing with each other for the attention of females, males gather before dawn in an explosion of visual and audio displays – “booming from the mists of nowhere” as Aldo Leopold wrote decades ago. There is nothing else like it, and it came perilously close to being lost. Greg Hoch shows that we can ensure that this iconic bird flourishes once again.

Thursday, October 26

  • 7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies
  • 7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail), The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.

September 28: Spark Birds + 50th Anniversary

Presented by Al Batt – Author, Humorist & Birder

If you have heard Al before, you know you are going to be in for a treat. If you haven’t heard Al speak, plan to be here. What in the world is a spark bird? What is your spark bird? Why is it your spark bird? Can you trade spark birds with your friends? Al Batt will endeavor to answer your spark bird questions.

Besides Al Batt as the speaker – a treat in itself – there will be cake and some other taste treats to celebrate MRVAC’s 50th Anniversary.

There will also be a photographer, so wear something photogenic and/or bird-related.

Thursday, September 28

  • 7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies
  • 7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail), The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.

May 25: The Rarest Birds of North America

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Presented Bob Russell, USFWS, Retired

We’ll take a look at the rarest bird species of North America from the never-photographed Semper’s Warbler, to the controversial claims that the Lord God bird – the Ivory-billed Woodpecker – still exists. Updates on Whooping Cranes, Kirtland’s Warbler, and the continuing search for the Eskimo Curlew will be discussed. An in-depth review of the history of the Carolina Parakeet with some information on records since 1950 (!!) will highlight this program.

Thursday, May 25

  • 7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies
  • 7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Where: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington. Take Hwy 494 to 34th Ave. Go south to American Blvd; turn left and go 2 blocks. Center will be on your right. Enter through the door at the middle of the building.

Public Transit: Accessible by METRO Blue line (Hiawatha light rail), The Visitor Center is a couple of blocks east of the American Boulevard stop.