2019 Bird-a-Thon Challenge: May 1-15

2019 marks the 52st Anniversary of the incorporation of our chapter. Last year we raised over $2,000 – it would be great to top that. 

Those of you who plan to go birding to raise money should choose a day between May 1st and May 15th. You can go birding anywhere in the world on that day. Sponsors usually make their pledges as a flat amount or on a per bird basis, so the more species you identify, the more money you can raise. 

Download your 2019 Bird-a-Thon sponsorship form here!

You don’t have to go birding alone. The more eyes and ears you have the better. You can start at 12:01am and bird until 11:59pm if you have the stamina. The funds that we raise with our Birdathon will be used to fund grant requests that are submitted to us. In the past these have included grants to local nature centers and schools, to the MN Arboretum, the Audubon Center of the North Woods and the MN Valley NWR. Most of our grants support educational efforts directed at children. 

Here are a few simple tips: 

  • Don’t be afraid to ask! Most people are reluctant to ask for donations, but I am always surprised at how many people are willing to help, especially when they understand what the money will be used for. Be sure to tell them that it is our 51th anniversary.
  • Plan out your route! Pay attention to the weather and the latest reports on MOU, e-bird and Facebook. The best results are achieved if you can visit a variety of habitats on a nice day.
  • Tell your sponsors what you did! Most sponsors have some interest in what you are doing and will want to know what the highlights of your day were. This will help you in upcoming years to ask for repeat sponsorship.
  • Use a sponsorship form! Forms can be downloaded here or you can get one from Walt Stull (see below for his contact info). This helps you keep track of who your donors are and how much they have pledged.

All donations that you collect should be submitted to Walt Stull by June 1, 2019. You can contact him at 612-889-3550 or at mathemagicland@Q.com. It is best to give the donations directly to Walt at the general meeting, (4th Thursday – May 23) but they also can be mailed to MRVAC at PO Box 20400, Bloomington, MN 55420. 

You don’t need to sponsor a birder to donate; direct donations are welcomed as well! 

November 15: Holiday Auction

Robin Kutz wheels in the food.

Get some of your holiday shopping done, have fun and raise money to support a variety of environmental education projects. Come and bid often, bid high and have fun doing it for our environmental education program!

  • 5:30 pm Drop off auction donations, check out the items on offer and enjoy refreshments. . 
  • 6:45 – 8:15 pm Live auction – Scott Clark & Monica Rauchwarter team up. This is a pairing not to be missed! 
  • 8:15 – 8:55 pm check out and clean up 
  • Why: Raise money for Refuge needs and other environmental education projects 

If you can donate auction items or provide refreshments, thank you!! 

  1. Make plans to drop off your contribution ahead of time. Coordinate with Anne: 952-936-0811(h), anne_hanley90@hotmail.com.
  2. Please let Robin Kutz know if you can bring some snacks. Call her at 612-723-2632 or email robinkutz13@gmail.com.
  3. If you need to bring your items on Thursday evening, please make every effort to deliver them between 5:30 and 6:15 pm so people can preview your items before the bidding starts.

To tempt you to attend, here are some Auction items we know about so far: 


  • All Seasons Wild Bird Store gift card 
  • Large bag of sunflower seeds

Books, original art and prints 


  • Nothing Bundt Cakes 
  • Great Harvest
  • Lunds/Byerly’s gift certificate
  • Valley Natural Foods gift card
  • David Fong’s gift card
  • Wine
  • Cookies
  • Home-cooked dinner
  • Bavarian Mints (Rita Baden)
  • Krumkake ($10 per dozen) (Cheri Fox)
  • Homemade Bread

Events and Services

  • Party assistant for graduation event or other festivity of your choice (up to 4 hours)
  • 4 Tickets to Egypt’s Sunken Cities exhibit at Minneapolis Institute of Arts ($80 value)
  • Tickets to live performances
  • National Eagle Center package: admission for 2, NEC mug & small stuffed eagle
  • Personalized coaching: learn how to shop in the bulk aisle at a nearby co-op

December 15: Christmas Bird Count & Potluck Soup Supper

You are invited to join us for the 119th 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. Come help us count the birds!

Soup Supper: On Saturday 12/15, 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.

Three counts are associated with MRVAC: 

  • Bloomington CBC – Saturday 12/15
    • The Bloomington CBC (Saturday, Dec. 15) 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.
    • Contact: Greg Burnes, 612-205-3071 gburnes@comcast.net 
  • Excelsior CBC – Saturday 12/15
    • The Excelsior CBC (Saturday, Dec. 15) 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.
      • Contact: Howard Towle at towle001@umn.edu or 612-710-1451 no later than December 8.
    • Alternatively, you can participate in the Excelsior count by helping to cover a portion of Carver Park.
  • Cedar Creek Bog CBC – Sunday 12/16

There are about 80 Christmas Bird Counts being held throughout Minnesota. For more information and to participate in other counts go to: http://moumn.org/CBC/locations_map.php.

August 18: Henderson Hummingbird Hurrah

Birds, Butterflies & Blooms

Produced by Henderson Feathers

9 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Rain or Shine!

  • Bender Park: 200 N. Third Street
  • Minnesota New Country School (MNCS): 210 Main Street
  • Garden: Corner of 4th Street & Oak Street

9:00 am – noon: Hummingbird Banding in the garden

9:30 am – 10:30 am: Garden Tour – Master gardener Sarah Malchow

9:30 am: Painting with Lana Beck…$15 fee (2 hour Session)
(Limited Class Size of 12, please pre-register at 507-665-6570 to save a spot!)

10:45 am – 11:30 am: David Rice, Gardener/Instructor (MNCS Speaker)

12:30 pm: Painting with Lana Beck…$15 fee (2 hour Session)
(Limited Class Size of 12, please pre-register at 507-665-6570 to save a spot!)

1:00 pm – 1:45 pm: Donald Mitchell, Master Gardener (MNCS Speaker)

1:45 pm – 2:30 pm: Garden Tour – Master gardener Jackie Smith

2:45 pm – 3:45 pm: Al Batt, Author & Humorist (MNCS Speaker)
Educational Displays: MN River Valley Audubon Chapter
Monarchs – MN Ext. Blue Earth County, Cody Sievert – Bees & More!

4:00 pm: Drawing for Raffle Prizes! Need not be present to win!

9:00 am – 4:00 pm: Children’s Activities – MNCS Library
Includes Coloring Contest / Cash Prizes!!!
Lillipop Clown, Face Painting & More!
Hummingbird Mall Vendors… Food… Raffle Prizes!!!

FREE Fun for the Whole Family!

World Migratory Bird Day Event at the Refuge

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge will debut the Discover Nature App, a new mobile guide and trivia game, during World Migratory Bird Day festivities Saturday, May 12, at the Refuge.

The Discover Nature App guides visitors as they explore three units of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, providing points of interest and information on the Refuge’s diverse wildlife, habitat and history. The app also offers a family-friendly trivia game to play while visiting the Refuge. Interactive features allow users to upload and share their own experiences and photos of Refuge wildlife and habitat.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and partners will also host a special event that day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day at the Refuge’s Bloomington Visitor Center. Visitors can learn how to download and use the app, then walk Refuge trails on their own or join a Discover Nature walk at 12:30 p.m.

The May 12 event will also include a program by the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, bird-themed arts and crafts activities, mist netting and bird banding, and more.

The Discover Nature App is available now for free by searching for “Discover Nature” on iTunes or Google Play. Download the three Minnesota Valley units ahead of time to come prepared. The app will automatically open up when users arrive at the Bloomington, Rapids Lake or Louisville Swamp Units of the Refuge. Maps with access points and trails information are available on the Refuge website, fws.gov/refuge/Minnesota_Valley/map.html.

The Refuge’s Bloomington Visitor Center is located at 3815 American Blvd. E., Bloomington, Minnesota, 55425.

Visitors are encouraged to wear weather-appropriate clothing and shoes, and to pack a lunch or snacks if they plan to stay for the day.

For Refuge information, visit fws.gov/refuge/minnesota_valley/ or call 952-854-5900.

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.