Explore Minnesota Birding Update - August 2019

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Explore Minnesota Birding Update - August 2019 
Ruby-throated hummingbird visiting royal catchfly / Liz Stanley

This is your monthly Explore Minnesota Birding Update.

Happy birding!

August Nature Notes

We may be in the midst of summer but some birds are already migrating. A few species of shorebirds departed in July, and additional shorebirds are now on their way.

Most fall migrant species, however, remain in the preparation stage. Waterfowl are leaving the safety of the wetlands, testing their new primary flight feathers. Their young are learning to fly for the very first time. Great egrets are gathering along the edges of lakes and marshes. Sandhill cranes and their colts are emerging from nesting marshlands, feeding heavily in nearby hayfields and grasslands. The remaining shorebirds are gathering at shallow wetlands and mud flats, including piping plover, semipalmated plover, glossy ibis, little blue heron, stilt sandpiper, solitary sandpiper and least tern. Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area near Forest Lake offers birders a chance to view shorebirds and sandhill cranes.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are gathering and feeding more often as they increase fat reserves for their long journeys south. They are also teaching their young how to use feeders. This is a good time to set out additional hummingbird feeders, preferably spaced wide apart. If you keep them filled with nectar, you should be rewarded with greater numbers of these amazing little birds. Learn how to help them on their way at The Birding Wire's Ramp Up Your Feeders and Landscaping for Hummingbird Migration.

Migration is a difficult and dangerous undertaking, and various physical and behavioral changes are necessary for a successful migration. The Spruce explains some of these changes and offers tips to help migrant birds in Physiological Changes in Migration Birds.

Did You Know?

Minnesota's grassland prairies are prime birdwatching sites that are often overlooked. Just some of the grassland birds include bobolink, upland sandpiper, dickcissel, western meadowlark, prairie chicken, sharp-tailed grouse, grasshopper sparrow, Savannah sparrow, red-winged blackbird, yellow-headed blackbird and ring-necked pheasant. Learn about Minnesota's prairies through the DNR's Prairie Grasslands Biome. Tragically, only one percent of our vast native prairies remain, yet five prairie songbirds have adapted and now make their homes in wild grasslands. Discover these resilient birds at Treasures in the Grass.

The National Audubon Society recently released its top 100 bird images selected from more than 8,000 photographs submitted for the 2019 Audubon Photography Awards. The images were submitted by 2,253 photographers from all 50 U.S. states, Washington D.C. and 10 Canadian provinces and territories. Check out these stunning images and discover the intriguing stories behind them. Be sure to also check out Audubon's six spectacular winners.

Upcoming Birding Events

Aug. 10, Marine on St. Croix
Bird Walk for Beginners
Join the naturalist and learn to identify common birds by sight and song. Binoculars and bird books will be provided for the half mile bird walk. Lake Alice swimming beach at William O'Brien State Park. 651-433-0500

Aug. 17, Bloomington
Birds in Focus
You are invited to Birds in Focus, a unique event for photography buffs and bird-lovers alike. The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge will offer free guided bird walks led by an Audubon naturalist and a Canon photography pro as you try out the latest and greatest cameras, lenses and binoculars available. Bloomington Education and Visitor Center at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. 952-854-5900

Aug. 17, Henderson
Henderson Hummingbird Hurrah
Learn about the amazing ruby-throated hummingbird, how to attract them and keep them happy. The Hummingbird Hurrah may focus on hummingbirds, but birds, bees, butterflies and blooms will also be featured. Don't miss the hummingbird bandings from 9 a.m. until noon, as well as speakers, children's activities, educational booths, vendor mall, garden tours, book-signings, raffle prizes, great food and more. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and view lots of hummingbirds at the feeders and flowers. Admission is free. Bender Park. 507-665-6570

Aug. 18, Miesville/Cannon Falls
Miesville Ravine Bird Hike
Join other birders to hike some of the trails at this rarely visited Dakota County Park, including some of the newest trails. Birds that have been seen in the park include cerulean warbler, wood thrush, Acadian flycatcher, yellow-billed cuckoo, scarlet tanager and Louisiana waterthrush.  Miesville Ravine. 612-978-3993

Aug. 23, Hastings
Bird Banding
Bird banders welcome you to see songbirds up close and learn about the birds who share our ecosystem. Banding runs continuously from 8:30 a.m. until noon but visitors may come and go at any time. Donations of bird seed or suet are greatly appreciated in lieu of a program fee. Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center. 651-437-4359

Aug. 24, Orono/Long Lake
Warbler Walk
Enjoy walking and watching for warblers as they begin their migration south. Wolsfeld Woods SNA.

Sept. 1, Rochester
Zumbro Valley Audubon Society presents Chimney Swift Sit
Each year citizen scientists count migrating chimney swifts who gather in large numbers to roost for the night at sites all over the United States. Thousands of birds enter John Marshall High School's big chimney each year. Bring a lawn chair, bug spray and binoculars, and meet behind the school in the parking area near the football field. John Marshall High School.

Sept. 8, St. Paul
Birding for Beginners
Join the naturalist for a birding hike and learn about the basic techniques of bird identification. Meet at the Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center (two miles from park entrance). Fort Snelling State Park. 612-725-2724

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.


Great egret / Stanley Adrian

Adult and juvenile sandhill cranes in the Sax-Zim Bog / Sparky Stensaas

Little blue heron / David Cahlander

Semipalmated plover / Larry Sirvio

Stilt sandpiper / Larry Sirvio    

Glossy ibis / Jim Mattsson

Bobolink / Mikle Lentz Photography

Female ruby-throated hummingbird / Dani Porter Born Photography 

Wood thrush / Jon Swanson

Cerulean warbler / Matt Stratmoen

Yellow-billed cuckoo / Gerald Hoekstra

Scarlet tanager / Bruce Lees

Acadian flycatcher / David Cahlander   


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