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.

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Public Celebration Oct. 8

MNValleyRefugeStretching for 72 miles intermittently along the Minnesota River in the Twin Cities area from Fort Snelling to Henderson, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is an urban oasis for nature and nature lovers alike. The more than 14,000 acres are managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which also oversees the Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District that spans another 14 Minnesota counties.

The refuge is celebrating its 40th  anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016—the same date it was established by Congressional Order in 1976—with a public celebration that coincides with National Wildlife Refuge Week. Events will be held at the Bloomington Education and Visitor, 3815 American Blvd. East. The day-long celebration will include family-friendly and hands-on activities such as birding, exploration, fishing, hiking and more.

“Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is one of Minnesota’s best kept secrets. It provides Twin Cities residents access just minutes from their homes to a wilderness area where they can take advantage of free outdoor recreational experiences that include biking, fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, bird watching and hunting,” said Tim Bodeen, Refuge Manager. “Featuring a variety of habitats—including lakes, marshes, prairies, oak savannas and floodplain forests — the Refuge offers endless inspiration to artists and nature photographers alike.”

While initially established to provide valuable habitat for migratory birds—including waterbirds, wading birds, waterfowl and passerines—the reserve now serves as a key site in Minnesota for monarch butterfly conservation efforts. It is located less than 10 miles from downtown Minneapolis, making it one of only 17 refuges across the country designated as an Urban Wildlife Refuge. The Bloomington Education and Visitor Center is a one-quarter mile walk from the Metro Blue Line’s American Boulevard 34th  Avenue Station and Platform.

The refuge plans to add additional activities to continue the year-long celebration to commemorate its anniversary. To learn more, visit fws.gov/refuge/minnesota_valley/, call 952-854-5900 or find the refuge on social media at @MNvalleyNWR or facebook.com/MNvalleyNWR.

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.

Hopkins Community Ed Birding Class

Beginning Bird Class (Hopkins Community Education)

Four Mondays: May 2, 9, 16 and 23 from 6:30-8:30 pm.

Hopkins Community Education: 952.988.4070

George Skinner and Anne HanleyIncrease your observation skills and your knowledge of birds with one indoor session May 2, followed by three local field trips on May 9, 16, and 23 in Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and St. Louis Park. Instructors (and long-time MRVAC members) George Skinner and Anne Hanley will provide binoculars and field guides for class use, if needed.

Children ages 12 and up are welcome, if accompanied by an adult. $34 fee includes an introductory Audubon membership and access to more free local field trips throughout the year. Course fee is per family. No discounts.

Class space is limited. Please pre-register by calling 952.988.4070 (open M-F, 8 am-4 pm) or online: https://hopkins.ce.feepay.com/course/winter-spring-adult-2016/beginning-bird-watching 

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.