Wild Ones Native Plant Tour: August 13

Join the tour of five Minnesota River Valley yards with native landscaping; get some ideas for your own yard and see how various plants look ‘in person’.

An Aug 13 tour of native plant gardens in the Bloomington/Burnsville area includes gardens belonging to MRVAC members Becky Lystig, Liz Stanley, and Pat Stevesand. A 4th garden is a woodland reclaimed from buckthorn. All 4 gardens support bird habitat. The 5th location, adjacent to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, is a series of neighborhood curb cut rain gardens that mitigate water flowing into the Minnesota River.

For details go to prairieedge.wildones.org and click on Summer Tours at the top of the page. Then scroll to the bottom to Download the tour brochure. The tour is a fundraiser for the Prairie Edge chapter of Wild Ones.

Minnesota Water Action Day

Make Your Voice Heard on Water Action Day 

To Register (event is free): https://www.eventbrite.com/e/minnesota-water-action-day-registration-31483505011

Water Action Day is happening on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 and it will be a great opportunity for Audubon members to come to the Capitol for the day and participate in advocacy meetings, as well as a rally with the larger community interested in water issues. Many other Audubon members from around the state will be there and a host of other conservation advocates will also be in attendance.

There will be a training in the morning on how to effectively advocate for the water issues that birds and people face in Minnesota and a rally in the Rotunda at 1 pm. Throughout the day, there will be events to learn how to be civically engaged and also, what to expect in meetings with elected officials. Watch for updates and more information on Audubon Minnesota’s Facebook page and website.

If there are members that would be willing to travel to the state Capitol anytime this spring, Audubon Minnesota can help set up meetings with your legislators, attend the meetings with you, and help you through the entire process. This is an impactful way to voice your support for clean water and it can be fun, too! Please contact Molly Pederson if you are interested meeting with your legislator at the Capitol (mpederson@audubon.org)

Salt Lake Birding Weekend: April 29

American Avocets, Lee Karney, courtesy USFWS

Sponsored by MOU and MRVAC 

If you’re dreaming about spring and wanting to find migrating shorebirds and waterfowl, why not join the 42nd annual Salt Lake Birding Weekend? On Saturday April 29, 2017, volunteers will guide birders around Salt Lake, Big Stone Refuge, the lakes, wetlands and native prairies in Lac Qui Parle, Yellow Medicine and Big Stone counties.

This event is free and open to all who are interested. No pre-registration is required.

Last year over 100 birders found 117 different species of birds with an additional one on Friday and eight on Sunday for a total of 126. Friday and Sunday birding is on your own. Contact Ken or stop by Prairie Marsh Farm for more information on local sites. Information and map at http://moumn.org/saltlake/ 

Last year with temperatures in the upper 70’s, high winds resulted in low numbers of shorebirds. The best birds found on Saturday were two American Avocets, one White-faced Ibis and one Willet at Meidd Lake, a Great-tailed Grackle, early Eastern Whip-poor-will and Chimney Swift, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Pileated Woodpecker (hard to find out west) and a Ferruginous Hawk. Lincoln’s Sparrow, Harris’s Sparrow and a single late Pine Siskin were found at Prairie Marsh Farm, the latter being unique in my records for the Salt Lake Bird count. Later as the winds died down we found a flock of 300 shorebirds at Salt Lake including Pectoral and Least Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher and Franklin’s Gull.

On Saturday April 29 at 7 a.m. meet at the Marietta American Legion, located one block west of the intersection of County Road 7 and State Highway 40, 11 miles west of Madison. Coffee, sweet rolls, juice and milk will be available for purchase. Guided car caravans will leave between 7 and 8 am. At noon stop back at the Legion for barbecue sandwiches (available at a modest cost), compare notes and continue afternoon birding. A Saturday chicken dinner for $10, will be served at 7:30 pm at the Sons of Norway Hall on Highway 75 in Madison. Reservations are necessary for dinner; please contact Julie Claflin by email at JulieClaflin@gmail.com . After dinner there will be a short program and then the species count for the day will be recorded.

Local lodging is available:

  • Lou’s Lodge in Madison: 320-598-7518
  • Vali Vu Motel in Ortonville: 320-839-2558
  • Prairie Waters Inn in Appleton: 320-289-2500
  • Country Inn by Carlson in Montevideo: 320-269-8000

Free camping is available at Prairie Marsh Farm, 1770 151st Ave, Marietta, located 7 miles west of US 75 and 1.5 miles south of 212. Contact Ken Larson for more information or to reserve a camping site – home (Minnetonka) 952-595-9265, cell 612-210-8486 or email to prairiemarshfarm@comcast.net.

February 23: The Elegance of our Tallest Birds: Cranes, Herons & Egrets

For 30 years Stan Tekiela has been traveling to study and photograph the annual migration of Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska. In this engaging presentation, which also includes Whooping Cranes, herons and egrets, Stan will show you his award winning images of these magnificent birds and talk about their epic migratory journey. He will also speak and show his images of the endangered Whooping Crane which makes a similar journey from northern Canada to the Texas coast.

Thursday, February 23

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 26: Fledgling Northern Saw-whet Owl Migration

Carpenter Nature Center is a well-known birding hot spot with a yard list of more than 200 species but with no reliable Saw-whet Owl sightings. In 2014 Carpenter Nature Center joined “Project Owl-net”, an international effort by licensed bird banders, to monitor seasonal Saw-whet Owl movements. During the very first evening of monitoring the team encountered a first year female Saw-whet Owl that was originally banded in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Hear Jen Vieth explain more about Saw-whet Owls and Carpenter Nature Center’s fledgling owl monitoring project.

Thursday, January 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.

117th Christmas Bird Count (CBC): December 17 & 18

MRVAC members encouraged to participate!

young-birdersYou are invited to join us for the 117th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. All levels of experience are welcome. Young birders with good eyes and ears are especially appreciated as an addition to a team of more experienced birders with good ID skills. Come help us count the birds!

Three counts are associated with MRVAC:

After counting on Saturday 12/17, gather between 4:30 and 5 pm to help set up for a potluck soup supper at the Diamond Lake Lutheran Church, 5760 Portland Ave 55417. Juice and coffee will be available from 5 to 5:30 and the meal begins at 5:30 pm. Please bring soup, veggies, fruit, bread or dessert. Please contact Robin at 612-723-2632 or robinkutz13@gmail.com if you have soup-supper questions. You are welcome at the supper whether you counted with the Bloomington CBC or not.

Nuthatch

The Bloomington CBC (Saturday, Dec. 17) is centered on the Black Dog Power Plant on the Minnesota River and includes parts of Bloomington, Burnsville, Richfield, Eagan, Apple Valley, and smaller parts of other cities. If you would like to help count in this area, contact Bart Anderson (see above).

The Excelsior CBC (Saturday, Dec. 17) is centered on the intersection of Hwys 5 and 101 in Eden Prairie and includes parts of Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Chanhassen, Chaska and Shakopee. If you’d like to help count in the SW Metro area, please contact Howard Towle or Bill Marengo as noted above.

Alternatively, you can participate in the Excelsior count by helping to cover a portion of Carver Park. Please contact Kirk Mona (the naturalist at the Lowry Nature Center) no later than December 10 if you would like to arrange to bird a specific portion of the park: Kirk Mona, Naturalist, Lowry Nature Center at 763-694-7650.

For the Cedar Creek Bog CBC (Sunday 12/18) in northern Anoka and southern Isanti counties, please contact Steve Weston. There are not expected to be many openings available to participate in this count.

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Public Celebration Oct. 8

MNValleyRefugeStretching for 72 miles intermittently along the Minnesota River in the Twin Cities area from Fort Snelling to Henderson, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is an urban oasis for nature and nature lovers alike. The more than 14,000 acres are managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which also oversees the Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District that spans another 14 Minnesota counties.

The refuge is celebrating its 40th  anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016—the same date it was established by Congressional Order in 1976—with a public celebration that coincides with National Wildlife Refuge Week. Events will be held at the Bloomington Education and Visitor, 3815 American Blvd. East. The day-long celebration will include family-friendly and hands-on activities such as birding, exploration, fishing, hiking and more.

“Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is one of Minnesota’s best kept secrets. It provides Twin Cities residents access just minutes from their homes to a wilderness area where they can take advantage of free outdoor recreational experiences that include biking, fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, bird watching and hunting,” said Tim Bodeen, Refuge Manager. “Featuring a variety of habitats—including lakes, marshes, prairies, oak savannas and floodplain forests — the Refuge offers endless inspiration to artists and nature photographers alike.”

While initially established to provide valuable habitat for migratory birds—including waterbirds, wading birds, waterfowl and passerines—the reserve now serves as a key site in Minnesota for monarch butterfly conservation efforts. It is located less than 10 miles from downtown Minneapolis, making it one of only 17 refuges across the country designated as an Urban Wildlife Refuge. The Bloomington Education and Visitor Center is a one-quarter mile walk from the Metro Blue Line’s American Boulevard 34th  Avenue Station and Platform.

The refuge plans to add additional activities to continue the year-long celebration to commemorate its anniversary. To learn more, visit fws.gov/refuge/minnesota_valley/, call 952-854-5900 or find the refuge on social media at @MNvalleyNWR or facebook.com/MNvalleyNWR.

Holiday Auction: November 17

Auction2015-1Our annual holiday auction fundraiser is coming up! Please think about what donations you could collect for the fundraising auction Thursday November 17. We could especially use a few larger items like a boat trip, use of a cabin, a homemade dinner or a behind the scenes tour.

Please email the committee with your ideas or let us know in advance about your contributions so we can mention them in our publicity: Monica Rauchwarter (Monica.Rauchwarter@ThreeRiversParks.org), Greg Burnes (GBurnes@comcast.net) or Anne Hanley (anne_hanley90@hotmail.com).

Birds’ Nests: HOW do they DO that?

by Clay Christensen, Birdman of Lauderdale

Thursday, October 27

7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies

7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Location: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Visitor Center

OrioleJJAudubonHow does a Baltimore Oriole make that graceful hanging nest so high up in the tree? What is a woodpecker cavity nest like inside? What birds nest in tunnels? This talk includes photos of birds at their nests and diagrams showing how nests are made. Clay is the always entertaining author of The Birdman of Lauderdale based on the many columns he wrote for the local Park Bugle newspaper. His publisher has made copies of his book available for free to attendees of this program.

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.

Social Learning, Signaling, and Deception in Blue Jays

by Virginia Heinen, University of Minnesota

Thursday, September 22

7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies

7:30 pm: A brief MRVAC business meeting followed by the featured speaker.

Location: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Visitor Center

BlueJay

Being in a social group has advantages: by watching others, you can learn where the food is and save time searching for it yourself. But social learning is not always the best option: what if your social partners are wrong, or what if they’re trying to deceive you? Research from the Stephens Experimental Ecology Laboratory explores how blue jays balance social and personal information, manage cooperative feeding and what happens when a signaler wants to lie.

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.