Bird Local and Save

Save time. Save money. Save headaches. Save the fun for another day. The longer I bird, the more rewarding I find local birding. Most anyone can see what birds they want if they have the means and time to hop in a car and drive across the state or get on a plane and go someplace new. But not everyone can see what they want in a limited geographical area even if they have all the time and money in the world. Racking up the numbers in the near-perfect 24×36 mile rectangle that is Kandiyohi County is tough. While I haven’t jumped on the popular 5-Mile Radius bandwagon, I do take my birding pretty seriously in these 864 square miles.  Birding a relatively small area makes the victories all the sweeter and the misses even more anguishing.  Case in point was an Eastern Whip-poor-will found by Dan Orr on April 30 in the far NW corner of the county. Dan found the bird during the day surprisingly, and not surprisingly, I was tied up with shuttling kids around to their activities. I couldn’t make the 40-minute drive until dark, which is okay considering hearing a nightjar is much more probable than seeing one.  Joel Schmidt was on the scene before me having no luck finding it. Then, two minutes before I arrived, he heard it. I stayed on over an hour without hearing a whip or a will. Ugh.

Yet another stinging miss was a Summer Tanager in Randy Frederickson’s yard in May of 2017 while I was across the country. I literally got the news just after landing in Arizona. Talk about bad timing.  All I had to cling to was a thin hope of another one based on Randy having seen this species in his yard a few times over the last couple decades. It turns out that my hope was not that thin. History repeated itself almost exactly a year later, except I was in the right place at the right time for once to get #258. Twice I’ve made long-distance car chases for this species, and here I had one just across town.  Sadly, that story has repeated itself all too often for me with other species.

Summer Tanager

Not long after I enjoyed this Tanager with Randy and his wife in their yard, Randy and I were out birding one morning when I picked up county bird #259*.  *This bird, if accepted, would be a second state record. I’ll write more on that if we have success with it being accepted. If not, just forget this paragraph even existed.

Serendipitous rarities at the local level are always received with great joy since they are completely unexpected. You can’t get too upset about the really rare birds you don’t have on your county list.  However, it’s the birds that you know show up annually but are still missing from the list that really get under the skin. Two of those for me were Sanderling and Henslow’s Sparrow. My battle plan was to hit up shorebird habitat hard during the end of May to hopefully get a Sanderling, a late migrant. Then, during June, I would make it my daily chore to go beat the innumerable grasslands in the county for a Henslow’s. I was looking forward to this struggle, actually. A few visiting birders laid waste to my perfect plans by finding both my Henslow’s AND my Sanderling for me in the SAME day!

County listing gurus, Andy Nyhus and Dedrick Benz, answered my case-of-beer promotion for any non-county resident that finds me a new Kandiyohi bird when they dug up a Henslow’s Sparrow on territory in the far SE corner of the county. It was a bittersweet #260–good to finally get it, but now my June birding plans were in shambles.

Henslow's Sparrow I have wanted this Sparrow for a long time. The last time one was in the county was in 2013, my first summer of birding. I did try for that one, but I was so green that I didn’t really know how to try. Plus I later found out that I was in the wrong spot by like a quarter mile. Needless to say, with this year’s find I immediately raced down to that corner of the county, making me slightly late for meeting up with a friend that morning.  Getting the bird was a cinch as it could be heard from the parking lot. I spent a little time with it and then raced back to my meeting.  When that meeting ended at noon, I promptly went to the liquor store to make good on a promise. I made my purchase but was disappointed to find out that Andy and Dedrick were no longer in the county to collect payment and had vanished like the DeLorean, leaving fiery trails of good birds for others to marvel at.  Two of those birds were some Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones that same afternoon on a beach at Lake Minnewaska in neighboring Pope County. The find actually pushed me out the door that very same day to start checking similar beaches in this county. I checked several but did not go to the beach at Green Lake in Spicer.  Though I thought of it, I instead went to lakes to the south. It’s a good thing that county-listing expert, Herb Dingmann, had the same hunch after ticking Andy and Dedrick’s Pope finds. He did stop at Green Lake and found the same pair of species! Twenty minutes after his call, Steve and I were on site, enjoying our latest county bird. This was #261 for me.


Ruddy Turnstone is not a shabby bird either, only my second in the county.

Ruddy Turnstone

Sanderling Ruddy Turnstone

So just like that I was out of birding targets for the immediate future. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. At my current number for the county, I am essentially waiting on vagrants to show up to get the number higher. There are a couple more regular hold-outs which I will pursue come fall and winter, but what does one do now? I have never understood the appeal of 87-county listing, but maybe this is it how it begins–the local list gets saturated with good birds and one must look across borders for new tics to keep the thrill alive.  Or maybe it happens innocently when a slew of good birds shows up at the ponds at work in neighboring Meeker County. The ponds have been drawn down this year making it tidy little hotspot during migration.

A confiding pair of Northern Pintails that hung out for a week was a fun Meeker tic.

Northern PintailFun as the Pintails were, nothing could make the Meeker slope more slippery like the 1-2-3 punch of Willet, Snowy Egret, and Caspian Tern. The latter two were seen on the same day as I was hurriedly leaving work to chase the Curlew Sandpiper.

WilletAfter work one day, coworker and birding buddy Brad Nelson had seen some smaller Egrets fly over and land at the ponds but wasn’t able to investigate. He asked if I could check it out. Though the Curlew Sandpiper was the priority, I told him I could give it a quick once-over. It’s a good thing, too, because Brad’s suspicion on the Egrets was right. This pair of Snowy Egrets became our first eBird flagged rarity for work, and it allowed Brad to tie the record for being #1 in Meeker.

Snowy EgretAs I scanned the ponds in my haste to get to the Curlew, I nearly missed this Caspian Tern trying to blend in with the Forster’s. Caspian is the better of the two Terns here, and it was the bird that officially crowned Brad Nelson the King of Meeker County.  Congrats, Brad!Caspian TernPerhaps the county listing starts innocently with “just a quick trip” 6 miles from the county line to pick up Dan Orr’s Stearns County Mockingbirds.

Northern MockingbirdOr maybe it happens when you are driving down the Kandi-Swift County line road and find yourself staring at the Swift side of the line.   It’s a good thing I did because it netted me my first real good looks and photos of a Sora. This felt like a lifer, honestly.

SoraThe birding action is too hot at home to be worried about other counties. I’m not and don’t anticipate to be an active 87-lister, though it is fun to add tics when I travel. This spring/summer has produced an abundance of good birds right here in Kandiyohi County, even if they were not new to me. In fact, for the first time ever, I managed to go above the 200 mark in a single year with half the year still to go!  Here are some of the more fun finds I’ve encountered along the way.

Perhaps winning the award for Biggest Surprise was this very late Snowy Owl (April 26!). I had chased some Short-eared Owls (a more expected species at this time) and instead found this guy. Every Minnesota birder will tell you they have looked at countless Wal-Mart bags in fields thinking they had a Snowy Owl.  Given the time period, I was expecting this white mass to actually be a Wal-Mart bag. Nope. This was my fifth Kandiyohi Snowy Owl of this past winter/spring.

Snowy OwlAnother, “What’s that doing here right now?” bird was a presumed nesting pair of White-winged Crossbills this spring found by Steve Gardner in the same place I found a flock last November.

White-winged Crossbill

It was good to connect with two different Red-headed Woodpeckers in the county this year already–not a bird to be taken for granted here by any means.

Red-headed WoodpeckerThough not a rare bird for Kandiyohi County, it’s always good to bump into a Scarlet Tanager too.

Scarlet TanagerThis spring/summer I have many county Seconds, meaning I’ve seen/heard a bird for the second time ever in the county. I was pretty thrilled to discover my second Loggerhead Shrike for the county. I’ve only seen a handful in the entire state, so this was pretty special.

Loggerhead Shrike

Speaking of only seeing a handful of a species in the state, another Second happened when I was looking for my county Sanderling at the Blomkest sewage ponds.  I kicked up a pair of Gray Partridge as I hiked the barbwire perimeter. The exact same scenario played out for me in this spot just two years ago.

Gray Partridge

My favorite Second occurred when I was looking for a year bird, the Orchard Oriole. The Orchard was not a Second, but still a fun bird.

Orchard OrioleI saw this Orchard Oriole along a road between two gravel pits that I have walked many times in the past looking for a county record Blue Grosbeak. Since the record was found last summer and since it’s still not Blue Grosbeak season in my mind, I was not even thinking about that species. The thing about birding is that good finds sometimes happen when you least expect them. I was pretty pumped to finally (after all these years) get a personally found second Kandiyohi County record Blue Grosbeak.

Blue GrosbeakI didn’t have to wait long to get my second county Summer Tanager. County-listing legends, John Hockema and Chris Hockema, found this first-year male at Mt. Tom at Sibley State Park.  Incredibly, other observers found a second Summer Tanager with this one.

Summer TanagerThe Hockema Bros. followed this up immediately with another incredible find at Mt. Tom–my second county Eastern Towhee.

Eastern TowheeContinuing this list of Seconds was my second county observation and first county visual of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in Randy’s magical yard.

Yellow-billed CuckooThis Hudsonian Godwit was my fourth observation of this species in the county, but this was only my second time seeing one in breeding plumage.

Hudsonian GodwitBirding locally this spring has been absolutely incredible and proof that you really don’t have to go far to find great things. Other fun finds on the road to 200 and beyond included Least Bitterns, Eastern Meadowlarks, Lark Sparrows, a Cerulean Warbler, and more. Even the new yard has had some great action with Common Nighthawks circling over, Purple Finches stopping by the feeders, and a Wood Thrush waking me up one morning with its serenade.

Birding has definitely slowed down the last couple weeks, which is a good thing so I can work on getting caught up on this blog and on various non-birding projects.  Next post (posts?) will highlight an incredible birding trip Steve and I took to Arizona back in April.

Swainson’s Redemption and Nebraska’s New State Bird

All good things must come to end as they say, and this Colorado story is no different. Except this story needs to come to an end because more hard-hitting birding stories have been brewing back home since we got here.  It’s been intense. We’ll catch up on all that later, but for now we must finish the tale of birding Colorado.

Having taken four hours to get to Colorado Springs from Uncle Jon’s (a trip that takes non-birders two hours), we were now ready to hit the plains of eastern Colorado where the birds and landscape would be less inspiring and allow us to push the pedal down and get home. When driving through Colorado you learn that elevation is a big deal as it’s posted on every city’s population sign.  Undoubtedly this was the brain-child of the much cooler mountain cities, and it’s the scourge of those self-concious eastern towns who must display to the world just how elevationally-challenged they are.  The drop in the cool-factor of birds is directly correlated to the simultaneous decreases in elevation and town self esteem.  But what the eastern birds lacked, they made up for with great vigor. Case in point – Western Kingbirds.  They were everywhere and perched boldly on any kind of wire proudly displaying their awesomeness.

Cruising along on U.S. 24 I had a beautifully patterned Swainson’s Hawk come sailing high over the road.  Evan dipped on this bird in South Dakota and pouted about it since I saw it.  Because of this debacle, I kept my mouth shut when I saw one while driving through Denver earlier in the week.  But this time I couldn’t help myself, and I hollered that we had a Swainson’s.  Of course this jarred Evan out of his backseat activities, and he couldn’t get on the bird in time, setting off a fountain of tears.  Apparently he really wanted to see this hawk bad. I turned the car around to chase after it, but it had vanished.  Nuts.

Thankfully, though, that’s not how the Swainson’s saga ends.  As I drove east out of some non-descript town (sorry town, I only remember the names of the cool, high-elevation cities), a Swainson’s Hawk shot up out of nowhere from behind a grassland hill flashing his white wing linings and reddish brown chest as he soared across the road a mere 20 feet off the ground. I hollered. I couldn’t help it.  Evan was panicked.  I pulled over.  Thankfully this bird cooperated and gave Evan his sought-after lifer as it circled on thermals right by the road.

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson's Hawk

So it took four Swainson’s Hawks before Evan finally got his lifer and I got my photo documentation.  Then a funny thing happened – or not if you are a birder: they were everywhere.  I bet we saw close to a dozen Swainson’s Hawks by the time we finished out Colorado, nicked Kansas, and then got into Nebraska.  And Nebraska? Well, when I was filling up with gas at some podunk town in the east-central part of the state, Evan was getting out of the car to go into the convenience store and he looked up and said calmly, “Hey Dad, a Swainson’s Hawk.” Sure enough another Swainson’s was cruising low over the gas station canopy!  The Swainson’s no longer had power over Evan, but it was still having an effect on me.  Gas still pumping, I reached for my camera to get try to get a shot of a Nebraska Swainson’s.

Swainson's HawkAre you sick of Swainson’s Hawk photos yet? Too bad!  It’s probably the coolest hawk I know, and there’s even more coming in a future post!

The Swainson’s Hawk alone would have made Nebraska a worthwhile state to drive through as far as birding goes, but surprisingly Nebraska put up another cool bird and lots of them.  No, it wasn’t the Western Meadowlark that holds the title of state bird in Nebraska and like a half dozen other western states (the meadowlark is a cool bird, but really the states all should have drawn bird names out of a hat).  Instead it was the Red-headed Woodpecker. Interesting side note about state birds on the trip – we didn’t see a single Ring-necked Pheasant in South Dakota and only one Lark Bunting in Colorado.

It’s kind of funny how things play out.  After spending a night in Kearney, Nebraska, I missed my road that angled to the northeast.  This forced me to have to go north and east but not northeast – something that aggravated me as a traveler and as someone well-versed in the Pythagorean Theorem.  Compounding the issue was that we hit road construction where we were stopped with a whole long line of cars waiting for the flag lady to let us have our turn to proceed.  Except there was no visible road construction for miles.  We had been waiting for quite awhile with no end in sight.  When the guy in front of me got out of his car, lit up a smoke, and leaned across his hood while jawing with the flag lady, I couldn’t take it any more.  I peeled out of the line and headed back west to go south just to be able to go east and north again.  It was awful and made worse because we were now traveling on gravel roads.  In the flat land of Nebraska, the gravel roads are laid out perfectly on a grid with an intersection every mile.  And they can really grow corn tall in Nebraska, so I was forced to stop at every intersection to avoid a collision.  The agony!

But there is a silver lining to this miserable cloud that seemed to follow us on our journey home.  We spotted a couple Red-headed Woodpeckers.  It is such a pretty bird that is declining in numbers.  It’s a good day any time you see one.  As we kept driving, though, we kept seeing them! Ten in all! It was crazy and fantastic and made the miserable travel worth it.  Melissa said it best when she said this was truly the way to experience Nebraska if you have to experience Nebraska – tall corn, dusty roads, and Red-headed Woodpeckers. Good save, Nebraska.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed WoodpeckerWe also saw a couple of Brown Thrashers, and I even spied a Loggerhead Shrike in a bush as we flew past.  I was too frustrated with the stop-and-go travel to make many voluntary stops for pictures, though.

So, there you have it.  We got home to Minnesota without incident, and the birding has not slowed down a bit since we got here.  Who knew that late July and August could hold such bird wonders back home of all places?  Stay tuned.

Hunting for Chestnut-collared Longspurs at Felton Prairie IBA

This story picks up right where the Wood Stork story leaves off.  Steve, Evan, and I were scheduled to depart Willmar at 4:30 AM last Saturday morning to make the three-hour trip up to Felton Prairie just east of Fargo.  Keep in mind we returned from the stork chase  near the Iowa border around 9:00 PM on Friday night.  That’s a short turn-around time for an adult, let alone a 7-year-old.  I asked Evan if he still wanted to go.  He chose sleep. Evan had been hot and cold with this trip anyway.  When I first asked him if he wanted to go, he said he wasn’t interested.  Then I saw a picture in my Facebook feed of a Chestnut-collared Longspur someone had seen at Felton Prairie and showed it to him.  His response was, “Ok, I’m interested.”  Absolutely.  But sleep did win out this time, so it was just Steve and I. We have been talking about doing this trip for nearly a year.  We were stoked to finally go.

Felton Prairie is designated as an Important Birding Area (IBA) by the the Minnesota DNR.  It consists of some WMAs, game refuges, and other public land, and it can host many hard-to-find western species.  Such birds include Marbled Godwits, Upland Sandpipers, Grasshopper Sparrows, Baird’s Sparrows, Burrowing Owls, Swainson’s Hawks, Western Kingbirds, Loggerhead Shrikes, Sprague’s Pipits, Greater Prairie Chickens, Gray Partridge, and the reliable number-one  bird and reason to head to Felton – the Chestnut-collared Longspur.  This is the only place where they are known to breed in the state.  Interestingly they are found along a narrow strip of prairie that runs along the top of a long ridge which I’m told is the edge of glacial Lake Aggasiz.  There is a road that runs this ridge.  Its official name is 170th Street, but everyone calls it Longspur Road.  It’s the place to go.  It’s even been known to host a complete spring-time party of Smith’s, Lapland, and Chestnut-collared Longspurs.

Steve and I hit Longspur Road right away.  Western Meadowlarks were singing everywhere.

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

A fun bird that is normally very hard to find is ubiquitous here, the Grasshopper Sparrow.  We glassed dozens hoping to turn one into our target bird.

Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow

Nearly right away on our first pass down Longspur Road, Steve made a fantastic discovery – two Greater Prairie Chickens!  It was a life bird for both of us, and with it I have now seen all members of the grouse family that call Minnesota home.

Greater Prairie Chicken

Greater Prairie Chicken

Not only did we see this pair, but we kept turning them up! We had three more bunches of 4,2, and 2 respectively, making a total of 10 birds!  A highlight was watching one near the car when it flushed, causing three others hidden in the grass much, much closer to flush as well.  Talk about great looks!

Greater Prairie ChickenGreater Prairie ChickenGreater Prairie ChickenIt was a satisfying life bird but not the one we were after.  It alone would have made a solid trip. It was also fun to see Marbled Godwits.  At first. Then they were everywhere and noisy.  Very noisy. It souned like we were at a beach with a bunch of gulls.

Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit

Another fun bird was the Western Kingbird.  We saw five.  One makes for a good day.

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

As cool as these birds were and fun to see, they were way down on the priority list because we came here for one bird, the Chestnut-collared Longspur.  I don’t know how many times we drove up and down the 3-mile road.  We kept seeing fun stuff, like this mother Blue-winged teal and her brood appearing out of the grass and disappearing back into it with no water around for miles.

Momma Blue-winged Teal and Brood

Momma Blue-winged Teal and Brood

Or a pair of Brewer’s Blackbirds.

Brewer's Blackbird

Brewer’s Blackbird

But still no longspurs.  I think we expected this bird to be perched conspicuously on the barb-wire fence that ran alongside the road.  Or we thought it would be on the road itself.  Then we figured we better watch the prairie more and the fence less.  Still nothing.  We were fast approaching our cut-off time to leave.  Near the very end, we finally had the idea to study its song.  We were foolish for not having done so earlier. We were shocked and a little disheartened to learn the song sounds very, very close to the Western Meadowlark song.  With minutes left before we had to depart, we picked out the higher version of the meadowlark song and found our target.  This was the conspicuous look we were searching for.

Chestnut-Collared Longspur

Chestnut-Collared Longspur

Chestnut-collared Longspur

On 170th Street, start looking/listening for the Chestnut-collared Longspurs in the mile section past the cattle guard. Watch the fence, the road, and the prairie to the east.

Chestnut-collared Longspur

Chestnut-collared Longspur - The Best Longspur

Chestnut-collared Longspur – The Best Longspur

It was quite a thrill to see this bird.  I’m looking forward to my next trip to Felton to see this bird again and to show it to Evan.  It’s quite the jaw-dropper.

We capped off our visit to Felton Prairie by taking a quick drive down the two-mile Co. Rd. 118, where Loggerhead Shrikes are known to hang out on the wires at the very end of the road.  We were not disappointed.  Like the intel on the longspurs, this is decades-old information that is still reliable today.

Loggerhead Shrike along Co. Rd. 118 about 2 miles east of MN Hwy 9

Loggerhead Shrike along Co. Rd. 118 about 2 miles east of MN Hwy 9

It was a good trip with a couple of key lifers, but it was far from the end of this birder’s marathon travel schedule. Steve and I had to get home so I could get packed up and ready for the 265-mile trip to northern Minnesota the next day where more birds and adventures would be in store for us.  And relatives too.  Those are fun to see.  Stay tuned – more birds, pictures, and stories await.  Wasn’t I remodeling a bathroom or something?

An Unforgettable Field Trip to Grant County and the North Ottawa Impoundment

A lot of fascinating bird reports have been pouring out of Grant County which is just a little more than an hour to the northwest.  The biggest news that came last week was a confirmed nesting pair of Black-necked Stilts.  These stilts normally reside in the souther reaches of our country and rarely stray into Minnesota, let alone nest here.  So as people were going to check out this historic find, they were turning up other good birds like Black-crowned Night Herons, Cattle Egrets, and Loggerhead Shrikes.  And just yesterday another southwestern bird popped up within 10 miles of all this action, the White-winged Dove!

Randy invited us to go a field trip to Grant County.  The big attraction for Randy was the White-winged Dove which would have been a new state bird for him.  The dove was just one of many phenomenal birds I was interested in.  Needless to say, we accepted Randy’s offer.  Evan and I were up at 4:30 this morning so we could get up to Grant County to wait at a fellow birder’s feeders for the White-winged Dove to make an appearance.

As we drove we encountered a brutal rainstorm, but we were confident that the forecast of scattered storms would allow us at least some weather-free moments to check on these birds.  Finally we got to the site of the dove which was a farm place down a half-mile long driveway and tucked inside a densely wooded yard. It was not what I expected. I figured we’d be able to park our car and just watch a feeder, but the feeder was on the back side of the house.  The only way to view it was to walk around the house or look through the house’s windows. We decided to creep around the house.  Randy led our silent single-file procession.  Immediately he said, “On the feeder right now.” Wow, that was fast!  The bird then flew up into a tree posing nicely for spectacular views.

White-winged Dove

White-winged Dove

IMG_9015After our lightning-fast, dynamic sighting, we knocked on the door to thank Charlene, the birder and homeowner who made this amazing discovery.  Charlene was the epitomy of Minnesota-nice, offering us coffee and donuts and showing us a plat book and telling us where to find other great birds in the area.  It’s always a pleasure to meet a friendly birder in the field.

Next we were on to the North Ottawa Impoundent, which is a 2 mile by 0.5 mile rectangular pool used to provide flood relief for the Rabbit River, Bois de Sioux River, and Red River.  Before we got there, though, there were many good birds to see, like the abundant Bobolinks.



The North Ottawa Impoundment was an attraction for me because of the reported Black-crowned Night Herons and Cattle Egrets, both of which would be lifers.  When we got to the impoundment, we immediately saw numerous Great Egrets.  We kept hoping one of the white birds would be our nemesis Cattle Egret.  Eventually Randy spied the two Cattle Egrets that had been reported.  Finally!  It was quite a thrill to now gain two life birds from this field trip.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

These egrets were quite shy and did not give many photo opportunities.  The following picture was fun because it clearly shows the size comparison with the Great Egret, and clearly there is no comparison.

Great Egret and Cattle Egrets

Great Egret and Cattle Egrets

Driving around the impoundment was a magical experience.  There were cool birds everywhere.  I guess while I was out of the car trying to photograph these egrets, Randy found an Upland Sandpiper.  Additionally, there were hordes of ducks with other goodies mixed in, like numerous Eared Grebes, a Red-necked Phalarope, and a Wilson’s Phalarope. Taking a short walk allowed us to get good looks at many of these birds.


Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck

Eared Grebes

Eared Grebes


IMG_9063As much as we tried we could not turn up a Black-crowned Night Heron.  I guess we can’t win it all, plus there was still more good birding ahead.  Our next stop was the sewage ponds at the city of Herman where two Black-necked Stilts have decided to nest. Because of the work of some dedicated birders who brought this to the city’s attention, the city has agreed to not mow around this pond until the birds are done nesting.  In fact, the townsfolk are pretty excited over the hub-bub at their local sewage ponds.

A nesting bird is easy to find.  It is about the only guarantee there is when it comes to finding a bird.  We were able to see both of the adults today.  It was not a new bird as we saw them in Arizona a couple months ago, but it is a really fun bird that was a treat to see not far down the road from us.

Nesting Black-necked Stilts  at the Herman Sewage Ponds in Grant County

Nesting Black-necked Stilts at the Herman Sewage Ponds in Grant County

You didn’t need any special optics to see these birds well, but an up-close view makes a good sighting even better.

IMG_9093It was fun to see the female sit on the nest which has one confirmed egg.




Black-necked Stilts – a most appropriate name


After the ponds we decided to see if we could find the reported Loggerhead Shrike just north of Herman.  We couldn’t find it on our way to see the Black-necked Stilts.  The second time was the charm, though, as Charlene’s parked vehicle on Hwy. 9 and pointed binoculars alerted us to its presence.  In addition to her own rare yard bird, she was keeping tabs on all these other incredible finds within 10 miles of her home.

It’s always fun to see a shrike, but Loggerheads are rare in Minnesota, so they are extra special.

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike

And with that last sighting, it was time to head home.  What a phenomenal day of birding it had been. Two life birds, a host of uncommon birds, and great company are tough to beat.  It was one of those big birding days that will stand out for a long time in our memories.  After all, how often will can a birder see a White-winged Dove and a Black-necked Stilt on the same day in Minnesota?