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.

SPECIAL EVENT – MRVAC Day at Cedar Creek on July 8th

Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), Dave Menke, USFWS
On July 8. 9:30 – noon, you will have a unique opportunity to get a “back-stage” look at the Red-Headed Woodpecker Recover Project and the many nesting RHWP at Cedar Creek. 

As part of MRVAC’s 50th Anniversary we are sponsoring a MRVAC Day at Cedar Creek. We will start the day with a short presentation about the RHWP Recovery Project’s new initiative to track the migratory path of the these little-studied birds and then we will have a guided walk into the closed nesting area. 

If you are interested in joining us please send an email to gburnes@comcast.net. There is no charge, though any donations would be appreciated to help support MRVAC’s on-going work.

We have limited space and will send out more information as we get closer to July 8th.

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.

June 22: MRVAC 50th Anniversary Picnic

MVNWR Bloomington Visitor Center

Join us as we celebrate MRVAC’s 50 year anniversary!

We plan on “changing up” our annual membership picnic for our 50th Anniversary. Join us on June 22nd at the Minnesota River Valley Refuge. Here is the agenda:

  • At 5:30pm MRVAC will sponsor a guided bird-walk
  • At 6:15pm we will have our annual pot-luck dinner. Please bring something to share, MRVAC will be supply drinks and cake.
  • At 7:00pm we will move to the auditorium for the evening’s presentation by Neil Wingert. Neil’s around-the-world birding trip garnered many pictures and stories; he has agreed to share some of the best ones with us.

It should be a fun evening. Please come, and bring family and friends.

A Global Big Year by Neil Wingert

The WingertsNeil Wingert promised his wife they would go south and west for the winter after he retired at the end of 2015. They both got more than he had imagined. Neil will present photos and highlights from his 2016 Big Year which found him in 9 countries: New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Bolivia, Ecuador and the USA. If you can’t attend this program, all his sightings and photos were entered into eBird.

March 23: Changing the Future for Endangered Species

Piping Plover. Matt Poole, courtesy USFWS

Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) is a global network of conservation professionals headquartered in Minnesota, dedicated to saving threatened species by increasing the effectiveness of conservation efforts worldwide.

Dr. Onnie Byers, Chair, IUCN SSC Conservation, will discuss mammals from the coastal scrublands of Tasmania, amphibians from a unique gorge in Tanzania, birds from the forests of Japan, and plants from the rocky caves of Bermuda –stories that illustrate ways in which our commitment to science, collaboration and neutral facilitation has helped improve the status of threatened species in the wild by helping the people already working to conserve a species come to agreement on what needs to be done to succeed.

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.

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.

Holiday Auction & Give to the Max Raise Money for Educational Projects

We had a very successful and entertaining Holiday Auction at the Refuge Visitor Center on November 17. We raised a little over $3,000 which is 50% higher than the previous 2 years.

Our fabulous auctioneers, Mark Lystig and Scott Clark sold about 100 items donated by members as well as these generous companies:

  • Abdallah Candies
  • All Seasons Wild Bird Store (Minnetonka)
  • Bakers Square
  • Bloomington Arts Center, (aka Artistry)
  • Chanhassen Dinner Theater
  • Cornerstone Copy Center, Burnsville
  • Eagle Optics
  • Gertens
  • Great Harvest Bread Company
  • Kah-Née-Tah Gallery and Cottages, Lutsen
  • Lunds/Byerly’s
  • Milio’s Sandwich Shops
  • Northern Rail Traincar Inn, Two Harbors
  • Nothing Bundt Cakes, Eden Prairie
  • Old Log Theater (Excelsior)
  • Refuge Friends Inc.
  • Valley Natural Foods Co-op (Burnsville)

We also raised about $2,000 on Give to the Max Day which is a little more than we raised last year. We want to thank everyone who donated either at the auction or online.

2017 will be the 50th year since the chapter was officially incorporated and we have some exciting projects that we are working on to mark the occasion. This money will help fund these as well as the grants that we typically give to the Refuge and other worthy organizations for their efforts.

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.