Support a Great Native Plant Resource

The website https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/ is a great resource for learning about Minnesota native plants; you can find flowers by bloom date or color, for example, and lots of great photos.

From the website:

Our mission is to educate Minnesotans on our native plants, raise awareness on threats like invasive species, and inspire people to explore our great state, appreciate its natural heritage, and become involved in preserving it.

Over 1,300 plant species and more than 11,000 high quality photos are cataloged here, with more added each week, working towards recording all 2100+ plant species in Minnesota.

Help support this wonderful resource by contributing now to their fundraising campaign – at press time they were half way to their $10,000 goal.

Volunteer to Lead/Co-lead Bird Walks

Where do you like to bird when you are birding alone or with a few friends? Birding by bike or canoe might be fun! Pick your favorite park or trail, somewhere close by or further afield, and contact me, Cheri Fox, about adding an outing to next year’s field trip schedule. We’d love to have a few more field trip leaders. I can be reached by phone at 612-590-1261 or cherifoxj@gmail.com.

If you have been thinking about leading a walk but are a little unsure about it, you may set up a field trip with a co-leader. You need not be an expert, you just need to be welcoming to your participants and have some experience with the trip location. For example, it’s very helpful if you have birded there before, know the park features (restrooms, optional trails back to the parking lot) – and where at least a few birds are likely to be found.

Chip Notes: July/August, 2017

By Greg Burnes, MRVAC President 

By Tim from Ithaca, via Wikimedia Commons

In late May I found a female and male Mourning Warbler along Nine-Mile Creek. I was elated that I was able to pick its song out from the vocalizing of many other birds and return the next day to hear and get a glimpse of these beautiful warblers. I know many of you are thinking, “what’s the big deal?”, but I consider myself an AA (Avid but Average) birder, so for me this was very exciting accomplishment.

But, before I got too proud of myself I got to thinking about how indebted I am to all those who have helped me gain the birding skills I do possess and have stoked my excitement for birding over the years,. This type of mentoring and support is really what binds any community together. It may be a metaphorical leap, but if we as a city, state, country and world could apply the same community-minded principles and selflessness we enjoy in our birding “lives”, we would live in a better world.

As many of you know MRVAC is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017. In honor of this milestone, we are holding a special event at Cedar Creek on July 8th. Many of you know about the great work that the Red-Headed Woodpecker Recover Project (RHWRP) does at Cedar Creek and we will be getting a “back-stage” look at their work. Specifically we’ll learn about their new project to track the migratory habits of this amazing bird. Next, we will tour the “closed-to-the-public” RHWP nesting areas. There is more information in the Trumpeter and on mrvac.org and I encourage all of you to attend. There is no charge but limited space. Send an email to gburnes@comcast.net to register.

Lastly, I am stepping down as MRVAC President. I want to thank all of you who support our wonderful organization and I am proud to have had a very small part in its success.

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.

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.

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.