Northern Saw-whet Owl Migration Study

northern-saw-whet_owl_kameronperensovich_flickrcc_314Jen Vieth, Executive Director at the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center, will discuss the migration habits of the Northern Saw-whet Owl.  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.

Thursday, October 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.

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.

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.

Potluck Supper & Birding at Richardson Nature Center: Thursday, June 9

SmorgasbordThe MRVAC potluck picnic will be held the second Thursday of June – June 9th at Richardson Nature Center in the Aspen and Bluestem rooms (we’ll have room for 50 people).

Everyone is enthusiastically invited to join in: eat, hike, bird and visit with other MRVAC members and friends!

The room is rented from 5pm-8pm, so you may arrive with potluck items any time after 5pm and we’ll plan to eat at 6pm. Birding can be done either before or after supper, whatever works best with your schedule

  • Please bring a salad, fruit, main dish or dessert to share. Lemonade will be provided.
  • To help make this a minimal-waste event, please bring your own plates, cups and cutlery.
  • Be sure to bring your binoculars for birding before or after the potluck.
  • For questions about the dinner, contact Robin Kutz at 612-723-2632 or robinkutz13@gmail.com

Non-members are warmly invited; bring your friends and bring yourself – take this opportunity to introduce someone to Hyland Park or to MRVAC or take advantage of this time to get acquainted with other members at this mostly-social event.

If you have questions about how to find Richardson Nature Center, call before 5 pm for help with directions: 763-694-7676.

The B.S. of Bites and Stings: How Invertebrates Love Us

by Dr. Ann McKenzie, MD

Location: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Visitor Center

Thursday, May 26

7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies

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

MosquitoOur speaker is a family physician with a passion for biology, natural history, and animal behavior. She will share her knowledge of human reactions to invertebrate actions. She is familiar with many bites and stings, eliciting them to study, and even encouraging her children to keep a Bite List with attendant bragging rights.

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.

2016 Birdathon Challenge – May 1-16

by Dianne Rowse 

It’s time to prepare for the 2016 MRVAC Bird-a-Thon FUNdraiser! You get to pick a day between May 1 and May 16 as your Bird-a-Thon day. You can bird anywhere in the world for up to 24 hours (less is fine) on your chosen day.

Click here to download the Birdathon Sponsor Form

StudentsBinocularsThis is an opportunity to spend a day birding while raising money for MRVAC. The funds will be used to support birder education efforts, such as programs at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, area parks and nature centers. If this is your first time doing Bird-a-Thon and you raise at least $100, your name will be entered in a drawing for a magnificent prize.

Here’s how to participate: You simply ask friends and relatives to either pledge to donate a certain amount per bird sighted or a specified sum. Some birders will sight over 100 birds on a Bird-a-Thon day, so a pledge of 25 cents per bird could bring in $25.00 from one sponsor.

Here’s a suggested planning list:

  1. Now through early May: Using a Bird-a-Thon sponsor form, collect pledges from friends and relatives. Forms are available on our website (click here), at MRVAC meetings (welcome table) or you can make up your own form.
  2. Save the date! Put your planned Bird-a-Thon date on your personal calendar. Invite someone to come along, especially a young person with extra keen eyesight.
  3. The week before: Plan your route to a variety of favorite birding spots, including different habitats such as wetlands, forest and prairie. Check ebird.org or the MOU list serves (www.moumn.org) to find out where people are finding unusual birds.
  4. Bird-a-Thon day: Try to start early in the morning when birds are most active. Take notes about each location you bird at, check off birds seen on the checklist, and jot down anything spectacular or interesting.
  5. After your birding day: Type up a short summary of your Bird-a-Thon day to send to your sponsors. Share your memorable sightings and a little about your day. Be sure to include the places you went birding and a copy of your checklist. Conclude by asking for the dollar amount pledged and where to mail a check to you. Ask sponsors to make the check out to MRVAC. Deliver your letters to your sponsors by email or other method.
  6. Turn in your collected funds to Bob Williams, MRVAC Treasurer, by June 1st, by mailing them to: MRVAC; PO Box 20400; Bloomington, MN 55420. Thank you for your Bird-a-Thon effort in support of MRVAC

Tambopata Macaw Project Program

by Annie Hawkinson, www.macawproject.org

Location: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Visitor Center

Thursday, April 28

7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies

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

MacawThe Tambopata Macaw Project, located in the remote Peruvian Amazon, has been studying parrots and clay-lick use for more than 20 years. This region of SE Peru sees the highest concentration of clay-licks in the world, and every morning hundreds of parrots, alongside other herbivores consume this rich earth along the Tambopata River.

Ms. Hawkinson will speak about her experience as field leader with the project, provide insight into current research and volunteer opportunities, and share breathtaking pictures of Amazonian wildlife.

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.

Birding Guatemala

by Larry Sirvio

Location: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Visitor Center

Thursday, March 24

7:00 pm: Socialize with coffee and cookies

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

Red-lored Parrot
Red-lored Parrot, by Larry Sirvio

Guatemala is an attractive birding destination with more than 720 bird species and a high diversity of ecosystems. Guided by Guatemalan resident Knut Eisermann, we spent several days in the highlands followed by 3 days in the tropical lowlands of Tikal, perhaps the best spot I’ve ever seen for birding. The last few days were spent in southern coastal wetlands which featured good rum drinks as well as some interesting shorebirds and a resident pygmy-owl.

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.