Explore Minnesota Birding Update - November 2018

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Explore Minnesota Birding Update - November 2018 
Tundra swans; photo by Jim Williams

This is your monthly Explore Minnesota Birding Update. Happy birding!

November Nature Notes

While Minnesota's southbound migration is nearly over, some birds are just beginning to arrive from the north. Two Artic species to watch for are snow buntings and dark-eyed juncos. For many birders, the arrival of juncos is a bittersweeet sign that winter is just around the corner.

Some of the largest bird species are the last to leave Minnesota. Watch for bald eagles, golden eagles, American white pelicans, sandhill cranes and tundra swans.

Large groups of tundra swans are a common sight in November. Most of these birds are traveling from their summer homes in Canada, Alaska and north of the Arctic Circle, and will stop to rest and feed in shallow water areas until ice forms. The spectacular sights and haunting sounds of huge concentrations of tundra swans is always a memorable experience. To view these amazing birds (sometimes in the tens of thousands!) check the Mississippi River backwaters in the Brownsville and La Crescent areas. Learn more. Bird counts for tundra swans and other species within this portion of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge can be found on their website at Recent Bird Sightings.

Did You Know?

If you haven't finished raking your yard, that's great! In fact, "messy" yards are preferred by birds. Learn more at To Help Birds This Winter, Go Easy on Fall Yard Work.

Are you a backyard birder? You can help scientists track the movements of winter bird populations, as well as bird distribution and abundance by participating in Project Feeder Watch. All you need to do is gather and report data while enjoying the birds at your feeders. This year's Project Feeder Watch begins Nov. 10. Find out how you can participate.

Insect eating birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches crave high-energy suit when the weather turns cold. Watch Audubon's video on how to Make Your Own Suet, and check out the 8 wintering birds that you will likely attract at What's That Bird at Your Suet Feeder?

Ron Pittaway's Winter Finch Forecast 2018-2019 predicts an influx of winter finches due to poor seed crops in Ontario and further northeast. This should be a great winter for viewing pine grosbeaks, evening grosbeaks, purple finches, white-winged crossbill, common redpolls and hoary redpolls.

Upcoming Birding Events

Nov. 10, Rochester
Swan Watch Car Pool
Car pool from Rochester to La Crescent and down the Mississippi River to Brownsville to see large numbers of tundra swans and other waterfowl. Bring your own lunch or eat at a Subway sandwich shop before returning to Rochester. Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge. 507-454-7351

Nov. 11, St. Anthony
Walk with a Naturalist
Stroll through the park watching and listening for seasonal birds and wildlife. Please bring your binoculars if you have them. Suitable for all ages. Silverwood Park. 763-694-7707

Nov. 17, Victoria
Bird Banding
See wild birds safely trapped, studied and tagged with numbered rings. Lowry Nature Center at Carver Park Reserve. 763-694-7650

Nov. 17, Wabasha
Eagle Watching Field Trips
Learn about eagles in the Upper Mississippi River Valley and get great views of bald eagles in the wild on a guided eagle tour. Attendees travel by coach bus with expert naturalists to eagle viewing hot spots in and around the Mississippi River Valley. National Eagle Center. 651-565-4989

Nov. 17, Winona
Tundra Swan Watch
The bus tour will leave Winona to visit the Weaver Bottoms area, then travel on to the Brownsville Overlook for spectacular sights and sounds of tundra swans. Interpreters will be onboard to answer questions, and binoculars, spotting scopes and brochures will be provided for the day. Seating is limited seating; reservations are required. The cost is $25 per person, which includes lunch. Winona Visitor Center. 507-494-6238

Nov. 18, Bloomington
Refuge Bird Trek - Bass Ponds
Join a naturalist for a walk in search of migrating and wintering waterfowl, raptors and other species. All levels of experience are welcome. Please bring binoculars and a field guide, and dress for the weather. Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. 952-240-7647

Nov. 18, Victoria
Raptors in the Yard
Meet captive raptors and learn about these amazing birds of prey. Cameras are welcome, and participants may drop in anytime. Lowry Nature Center at Carver Park Reserve. 763-694-7650

Nov. 23, Hastings
Minnesota Campus Bird Banding
Bird banders welcome you to see birds up close and learn about the birds who share our ecosystem. Banding runs continuously for 3 ½ hours but visitors may come and go at any time. Please call ahead of time to say you are coming. Donations of bird seed or suet are greatly appreciated. Carpenter Nature Center. 651-437-4359

Nov. 24, Houston
Owl Prowl to Call in Wild Owls
Learn how to identify local owls by size, shape, silhouette and sound with the Owl Center's human and owl staff. Following the indoor portion of the program, participants will carpool to known owl territories in and around Houston to call for eastern screech-owls, barred owls and great horned owls. Reservations required. International Owl Center. 507-896-6957

Dec. 1, Rochester
Zumbro Valley Audubon Society Bird Walk Enjoy a casual walk through Quarry Hill Park to look for wintering and migrating birds. Bring binoculars if you have them or borrow a pair from the nature center. Be sure to check out the 15th Annual Quarry Hill Nature Art Show on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1 & 2. Quarry Hill Nature Center.

Dec. 1, St. Paul
Bird Watching
Learn how you can attract more birds by using a variety of seeds and feeder types. Also learn how you can improve the habitat in your backyard to increase the number and variety of birds using your feeders. Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center (two miles from the entrance) at Fort Snelling State Park. 612-725-2724

Dec. 1 & 8, Bloomington
Refuge Bird Trek - Bass Ponds
Join a naturalist for a walk in search of migrating and wintering waterfowl, raptors and other species. All levels of experience are welcome. Please bring binoculars and a field guide, and dress for the weather. Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. 952-240-7647

Dec. 8, Little Falls
Backyard Bird Feeder
Minnesota winters can be long and cold. Bird feeders attract life to our frozen backyards and can help birds survive through the winter. Learn about different feeder styles, placement, seed selection and how to maintain your feeding stations, then build your very own feeder to take home! Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge Maintenance Shop. 320-632-1575

Recent Bird Sightings

Check the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union web site for recent bird sightings and rare bird alerts.

For additional information, consider joining the Minnesota Birding community on Facebook.



Dark-eyed junco; photo by Arthur Overcott

Snow bunting; photo by David Brislance

American white pelican; photo by Bob Dunlap

Tundra swan at the Brownsville Overlook; photo by Gerald Hoekstra

Sandhill cranes; photo by John Morrison

Pine grosbeak; photo by Mark Sparky Stensaas

Evening grosbeak; photo by Jon Swanson 

Purple finch; photo by David Brislance

White-winged crossbill; photo by David Cahlander 

Hoary redpoll; photo by David Cahlander 

Common redpoll; photo by Mike Lentz Photography

Eastern screech-owl; photo by Andrew Longtin

Barred owl; photo by Bruce Lees
Great horned owl; photo by Dani Porter Born Photography


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