Elect 2017-18 Board Members

Trumpeter Swan
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator), Tom Koerner, USFWS

Please join us at the meeting on Thursday May 25 to vote on the slate of nine candidates for the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter board of directors. At present, here’s the list, but there may be last minute changes:

  • President: Matthew Schaut
  • Vice President: Steve Weston
  • Treasurer: Bob Williams
  • Secretary:
  • Members at Large: Becky Lystig, Ken Oulman, Greg Burnes, Rick Magee, Monica Rauchwarter, Bob Janssen

2017 Youth Summer Camps at Audubon Center of the North Woods

The Audubon Center of the North Woods (ACNW) in Sandstone MN offers a variety of youth camps that have a focus on wildlife, nature, challenge and outdoor skills. Give your child the gift of the great outdoors and memories that last a lifetime!

ACNW provides great accommodations, wonderful scratch-based meal service, a top-notch, experienced staff and engaging activities to provide one of the best outdoor camp experiences around.

Photo courtesy of ACNW

In June and July: Rocks, Ropes & Rafts (entering grades 6-8), Ways of Wildlife (entering grades 5-7 ), Outdoor Explorations (entering grades 5-7). Need-based partial scholarships are available.

ACNW has been providing environmental and outdoor education programs since 1971. Our focus is on developing an understanding, ethics and responsibility regarding the environment and the role of humans through formal and informal experiences that link nature and humans.

John Rehbein passed away at 90

John passed away on Thursday, February 16, 2017. He was a founding member of MRVAC and 2006 Trumpeter Award winner.

For 20+ years he led the spring warbler field trip to Hok-Si-La and Frontenac. In addition, in 1969, he started the Bloomington Christmas Bird Count that MRVAC still supports.

Read John’s obituary here.

MRVAC Newsletter Distribution

TrumpeterMRVAC’s newsletter, The Trumpeter, is a valuable tool for communicating what is going on in the environmental community, great book reviews, updates on birding events and more.

However, the challenge is that printing the Trumpeter costs MRVAC close to $4,000 per year. That is a substantial part of our budget that could be invested in supporting youth programs, birding events, and more. Therefore, we are asking those who have access to the internet to go to our new website – mrvac.org/newsletter – and download or read the Trumpeter on-line.

If you want an email reminder when the new Trumpeter has been posted on the web site, you can sign up on the Newsletter page.

If you are unable to get the Trumpeter on-line, you can opt-in and have a hard copy of the Trumpeter delivered to you. Please complete the card that came with the May/June Trumpeter and send it to us or bring it to the next refuge meeting. If we don’t hear from you, we will assume you will be enjoying the Trumpeter on-line.

Stay Tuned! SPECIAL EVENT – MRVAC Day at Cedar Creek in July

Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), Dave Menke, USFWS

Many of you know of the great work being done at Cedar Creek by the Red-headed Woodpecker Recovery Project. This is one of the most incredible conservation projects and we hope to offer you a chance to visit with them and get an inside look into the project and then take a walk to see the birds.

The site is only open to the public once a year, so we are working out the details to allow members a rare opportunity to see this beautiful bird (along with a number of others) up close and personal.

Stay tuned for details on a special tour for MRVAC members in July.

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.

Annual MRVAC Auction – Great Success

Over 45 people attended the annual MRVAC auction last night.  They enjoyed a lot of back-and-forth bidding for a number of great items.  A few highlights were bids made on custom dinners two of our members will be preparing for parties of 4, many wonderful food items, wine, optics, books, and much more.  All of the proceeds from this auction go to support youth educational activities and other important causes that support conservation.  Thanks!

Two Bluebird Monitor Positions Open

Eastern BluebirdMonitors wanted for next spring at two established Birdbird Recovery Project bluebird trails: Southview Golf Course in West St Paul and TPC Golf Course in Blaine. Training will be provided. In both locations, a golf cart is available for the monitors’ use if you would prefer not to walk. For more information, please contact Jack Hauser at 952-831-8132 or email jgshauser@gmail.com.

  • Southview Country Club, 239 Mendota Rd E, West St. Paul, MN 55118
  • TPC Twin Cities, 11444 Tournament Players Pkwy, Blaine, MN 55449

Old Cedar Avenue Updates

Submitted by Sarah Inouye-Leas, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Old Cedar BridgeThe projects at the Old Cedar Avenue area are moving along. Here are a few updates:

  • The archaeological investigation was completed and we are awaiting final recommendations from the State Historic Preservation Officer before we proceed with construction and replacement of the Refuge parking lot adjacent to the new bridge. We hope to start parking lot work within the next month or two in partnership with the City of Bloomington.
  • Based on feedback we have received, the platform at the end of the new boardwalk extending into Long Meadow Lake will be expanded. Reconstruction of the failing dike and the trail from the parking lot to the boardwalk is nearing completion. This section of trail is being upgraded to be more accessible to all.
  • Within the next couple of months, the refuge is planning to have a contractor begin work on the Hogback Trail. This is the trail between Old Cedar Avenue and the Hwy 77 bridge. This section of trail will be upgraded to be accessible to folks of all abilities.
  • On October 8th, Great River Greening will be holding a restoration event, planting native vegetation and removing invasive plants. Visit their website for more information.
  • Work on the Old Cedar Bridge itself is on track and slated to be completed November, 2016.
  • The City of Bloomington will be reconstructing Old Cedar Avenue which is the road leading down to the Refuge parking lot and trail heads. Work is projected to be completed on the road in 2017.