Old Cedar Avenue Updates

By Tracy Albinson | August 30, 2016

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.

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

By Tracy Albinson | August 30, 2016

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, call 952-854-5900 or find the refuge on social media at @MNvalleyNWR or

Financial Report for MRVAC

By Tracy Albinson | August 30, 2016

by Bob Williams, Treasurer

Our latest fiscal year ended May 31, 2016 and I am happy to report that we had another successful year.

We exceeded our goals for our 3 main sources of funding: Birdathon, holiday auction and general contributions. These 3 sources totaled well over $9,000. The other categories that contribute significant income to our organization are memberships, both local and national, and field trips. These brought in over $5,000 and our total income for the year was just over $16,000. As of the end of the fiscal year we had over $36,600 in our checking account and in CD’s combined. For the current fiscal year our income goals are pretty much the same as last year.

Our expenses also were in line with our projections. We made grants totaling $8,500 which is slightly higher than usual. The largest expense for our organization continues to be the printing and mailing of the Trumpeter. Last year we spent about $4,000 on the newsletter. We are currently exploring options on how to significantly reduce this cost. Our total expenses for the year were slightly over $16,000.

This year’s Birdathon was again a great success. There were 6 members of MRVAC who went birding and collected donations: Craig Mandel, Steve Weston, Dianne Rowse, Bob Janssen, Greg Burnes and Bob Williams. So far we have collect $2,750 but there is still time for any of you to make a donation either by sending a check to us at P.O. Box 20400, Bloomington, MN or by going to

The more we raise, the more we can donate to worthy projects that further our mission.

Birds’ Nests: HOW do they DO that?

By Tracy Albinson | August 30, 2016

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.

Volunteer to Lead/Co-lead Bird Walks

By Tracy Albinson | June 26, 2016

BInoculars at ArboretumBy Cheri Fox 

We’d love to have a few more MRVAC field trip leaders! 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.

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 and contact me, Cheri Fox, about adding an outing to next year’s schedule. I can be reached by phone at 612-590-1261 or email at

Education Chair Needed

By Tracy Albinson | June 26, 2016

AudubonAdventuresEach year our chapter puts aside funding to support educational activities in our region. One key activity is our reach out to a variety of schools and outdoor educational organizations offering them free access to the Audubon Adventure educational curriculum.

We are looking for a volunteer that would help us find educational programs that could successfully leverage these materials in their classrooms. If you are truly interested in supporting environmental education, please contact Greg Burnes @ 612-205-3071.

About Audubon Adventures: Across the country this material has been used to introduce young people (grades 3 – 8), their families, and their teachers to the fundamental principles by which the natural world functions. Audubon Adventures lessons offer an exciting, science-based exploration of those principles at work anchored in nonfiction reading and outdoor and classroom activities that help kids to care for the planet by helping birds and other wildlife. They integrate easily into the existing curriculum areas of science, social studies, mathematics, language arts and creative arts. Audubon Adventures has been used in classrooms, home schools, after-school programs, camp programs, ESL classes and more

Trumpeter Award for 2015-16: Mark & Becky Lystig

By Tracy Albinson | June 26, 2016

MarkBeckyLystigMark and Becky Lystig have been awarded the Trumpeter Award for 2015-16 because of their contributions to the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter in three categories: leadership, fundraising and outreach.

In the leadership category, Becky has served on the MRVAC Board for 15 years including 7 years as Secretary. In the fundraising category, Mark and Becky have participated in most of the last two decades of Birdathons and have been very successful at collecting pledges. In addition Mark serves ably as the chapter’s auctioneer at the holiday auctions as far back as I can remember and Becky regularly contributes baked goods or crafts to the auction.

In the outreach category, since the mid 90’s, Mark has been leading a popular November field trip along the Mississippi which focuses both on migrating swans and sampling the edible delicacies of southern Minnesota. In addition, Becky and Mark gave a fascinating talk on their trip to Antarctica at one of our membership meetings. The final aspect of outreach has to do with the Trumpeter newsletter. Becky has been involved with the Trumpeter mailing since the late 1980’s and for many years has been coordinating the mailings which includes keeping up with postal regulations, hosting events to assemble and attach labels plus delivering over 1000 copies every other month to the bulk mailing facility. Besides mailing, Becky has proofread the last 11 years’ worth of Trumpeters and Mark has contributed a number of book reviews.

Elect 2016-17 Board Members

By Tracy Albinson | April 21, 2016

NewLogo515x507.jpgPlease join us at the meeting on Thursday May 21 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: Greg Burnes
  • Vice President: Steve Weston
  • Treasurer: Bob Williams,
  • Secretary: Matthew Schaut,
  • Members at Large: Becky Lystig, Ken Oulman, Patti Larson, Rick Magee, Monica Rauchwarter

Looking for Osprey in Minnesota

By Tracy Albinson | February 26, 2016

OspreyThe osprey population in the Twin Cities has grown to over 100 known nests since a reintroduction project began in 1984!

The Twin Cities Metro Osprey Watch is monitoring all known Osprey nests in the eight-county metro area as part of a long-term behavioral and productivity study. This has become a big job, and we need your help!

If you see a new osprey nest or ospreys carrying sticks, please send a report to   If you are interested in volunteering to watch over a nest during the breeding season, please contact us.

Ospreys are increasingly nesting on man-made structures such as cell towers, ball field light poles, transmission towers and tele-phone/power poles, so keep looking up!

To learn more about ospreys and the Twin Cities Metro Osprey Watch, visit their Facebook page or blog at

Volunteer Opportunity – Richardson Nature Center

By Tracy Albinson | February 26, 2016

Richardson Bird ViewingThe Richardson Nature Center building features a “wildlife viewing room”. We are looking for additional “backyard” volunteers to assist us in maintaining this space by cleaning, maintaining, and repairing the feeder stations. These crucial volunteers also help with special projects as needed, including the seasonal maintenance of the pond.

This room, visited by countless school groups and visiting members of the general public each year, has floor to ceiling windows which looks out to the ‘backyard’ feeder stations. We offer sunflower seed, safflower seed, thistle, and suet when seasonally appropriate. Visitors love watching the songbirds, turkeys, deer and yes, squirrels.

Please contact Monica Rauchwarter 763.694.7678 for more information