Upcoming speakers/events 2019

Spring Wildflowers

April 11, 2019 – Larry Weber, Presenter

This will be a phenological look at the flowers that bloom from April to June; what they are and how they survive in this time slot.

Spring Migration Basics

March 14, 2019 – Clinton Nienhaus, presenter

Spring Migration has begun! Often, Spring migration is something that we in the north look forward to after months of snow and cold. Even though we welcome this change of season, have you ever thought about the full scope of spring migration? Which birds leave for their nesting grounds first? Where can I go to view migration, as soon as it begins in March? Through this presentation, questions like these will be answered as we cover the basics of Spring Migration!
Clinton is the secretary and field trip leader for the Duluth Audubon Society as well as the Head Naturalist for Friends of Sax Zim Bog.

Adventures in Alaska!

February 14, 2019 – Emily Stone, Presenter

Tundra, bees, and bunnies, oh my! Join Cable Natural History Museum Naturalist Emily Stone to hear about her summer sabbatical to Alaska. She met with scientists and naturalists to learn about their exciting work, paddled next to calving glaciers, live-trapped snowshoe hares, counted caribou, and explored much of the state.
Emily M. Stone is a naturalist by birth, training, profession, and passion. Her childhood spent as a “mud and water daughter” in northeast Iowa led to a degree in outdoor education from Northland College and a Field Naturalist Masters from the University of Vermont. Her vocation has been teaching kids of all ages about nature in beautiful places. As the Naturalist/Education Director at the Cable Natural History Museum in Cable, Wisconsin, Emily writes a weekly “Natural Connections” column published in more than a dozen local and regional newspapers, including the Duluth Reader Weekly. Her first book—Natural Connections: Exploring the Northwoods through Science and Your Senses—is a compilation of her favorite articles, and a second book will be out in March 2019. During the summer of 2018, Emily spent four months on sabbatical in Alaska. She explored it’s natural history and volunteered on several research projects.

2018 Christmas Bird Count Review and Event Discussion

January 10, 2019 – Jim Lind, Presenter

Jim Lind, local event organizer, will share the results of the Christmas Bird Count and explain how the count is done and what the results are used for.


Past Events/Speakers 2018

Christmas Bird Count

When: Saturday Dec. 15, 2018

This year will be the 119th National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, the largest and longest running Citizen Science project in the world. Minnesota’s Christmas Bird Counts are looking for
help. There are some 80 counts across the state running on a date from December 14th through January 5th.  About two thirds of the counts have posted their dates at this time.

This is a great opportunity to find some of the hidden birding spots in your area, learn more about our winter species, bird with some of the top birders in the state, and contribute to a large data collection.

To find out about a count near you by map, go to:

by date, go to:

Gull Watches

When: Sunday mornings November 11, 18, 25, 2018 @ 10am

Where: Superior entry breakwall (very end of Wisconsin Point)

Contact: Clinton Nienhaus –


If you have ever wanted a chance to spend time in the field to learn gulls, this event might be for you! Join obsessive gull watcher Clinton Nienhaus on this joint MOU/DAS Superior Entry Gull Watch. This field trip has the intention to view and learn about gull identification in the field, less about listing.

Gulls can be a difficult group of birds to identify, but this field experience will work to help attendees better understand the more common gulls in Minnesota, as well as give pointers on how to spot the more uncommon species of gull that make their way to the state every fall and winter.

Targets for this trip would include Iceland gull (Thayer’s and Kumlein’s), Glaucous Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, and maybe even a shot at a 7 gull species day with something rare mixed in!

Meet at the Superior entry Breakwall (very end of Wisconsin Point) at 10:00 AM. The gulling
could last between 2-4 hours, depending on the gulls. Bring cameras, binoculars, and spotting scopes. If possible, bring one loaf of bread or more (for the gulls!). Dress according to the weather. This is a stationary event that will not have any bathroom breaks or lunch stops, so bring snacks and water as needed. RSVP required: RSVP to Clinton Nienhaus at

Report from November 11,2018: Superior Entry Gull Watch:

This is my 3rd year doing stationary gull watches at Superior Entry. The intention of this event (which is ongoing) is to spend time with and learn gulls. With nearly 350 gulls present on the 11th, there was plenty of learning to be done! Somewhat disappointing was species diversity, with only one adult Thayer’s Iceland Gull (photo below) and 8 Ring-billed gulls to break up the Herring Gull party. Nonetheless, we were able to learn and check out a representative or two of every age class of both Herring and Ring-billed Gulls! The biggest surprise of this trip was the sheer number of Bald Eagles present, which really can make gulling tough. There were no less than 20 Bald Eagles loafing around and chasing gulls during our time at Superior Entry! The other significant species most of the group got to see was a pretty strong showing of… Sea Ducks! We had a total of 13 White-winged Scoters and 1 Black Scoter fly by the entry while we were watching gulls. A nice treat for the group, even if they were a little distant. As I said, these Gull Watches continue on November 18 and 25, starting a 10 am. If you are interested, send me an email at

North Shore Sea Duck Field Trip

Report from November 10, 2018 North Shore Sea Duck Trip:

This was the 4th trip I have lead searching for ducks along the North Shore and it was arguably the best one yet! For the first time ever we had a scoter slam… and nearly a sea duck slam (all 3 scoters, Long-tailed Duck, and Harlequin Duck), as the group narrowly missed Harlequin Duck. Non-duck highlights for this trip included a total of 41 species, with a late Savannah Sparrow in Two Harbors, nearly 20 Rough-legged Hawks between Iona’s Beach and Grand Marais with 4 total dark morphs, and lots of Snow Buntings along the roadside. Sea duck totals include: 5 White-winged Scoters (Taconite Harbor, Grand Marais Harbor), 2 Black Scoters (Taconite Harbor, Grand Marais Harbor), 1 Surf Scoter (Grand Marais Harbor to complete the slam!), 148 Long-tailed Ducks (139 at Good Harbor Bay), and almost a Harlequin Duck at Grand Marais Harbor, seen earlier in the day by Ise et al and briefly by Aaron during our visit, but we couldn’t refind it. All in all, a long day, but super productive considering the distance covered!

Birding by Hindsight: A Second Look at Identification

November 8, 2018 – Presented by Kim Eckert

For over 30 years local birding legend Kim Eckert has led birding tours in Minnesota as well as  throughout North America.  The author of A Birder’s Guide to Minnesota, Eckert is a well-known Duluth naturalist. He will guide us through stories and memories from his years of birding  and give us a preview of his newest book, Birding by Hind Sight, a Second Look at Identification.  This book will be available for purchase with proceeds going to the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog.

The Common Nighthawk in northern Minnesota

September 13, 2018 – Presented by Steve Kolbe

The Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor), like other species in the nightjar family, is a low-density breeder in the boreal forest and is not adequately surveyed by point counts due to its secretive nature and crepuscular activity.

However, large numbers of this species occur each autumn along the north shore of Lake Superior. With average annual counts of nearly 19,500 individuals, the autumn migration of Common Nighthawks is the largest known concentration of this species in the world.

While the precise geographic origin of these migrant birds is unknown, many arrive from the Canadian boreal forest, where this species has undergone a significant decline and is listed as threatened. Trend analysis from autumn migration counts does not show such a decline.

The annual autumn count of migrating Common Nighthawks along the north shore of Lake Superior is likely the best and most cost-effective way to census the boreal forest breeding common nighthawks and determine population trends for this declining aerial insectivore.

Early Morning Warbler Walks – all weeks in May, 2018 beginning with the first week

As the weather warms in May, so does the Spring migration of birds and the Duluth Audubon Society will host 2 hour morning Warbler Walks.  Birders of all interest and experience levels are welcome to participate. For those new to the hobby, birding with others can help sharpen identification skills and build confidence.  There is no fee to join in the Warbler Walks.

Tuesdays at Park Point – Beginning May 1, with Clinton Nienhaus and Jeff Davis.   Meet in the main parking lot of the Park Point Recreation action area next to the ball field at 7am.

Wednesdays  at Indian Point – Beginning May 2, with Josh Bailly and Cynthia Edwardson.  Meet in the parking lot for the Western Waterfront Trailhead at 7011 Pulaski St, Duluth at 7am.

The Importance of Citizen Science to the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas Project

May 10, 2018 – Presented by Gerald J. Niemi

Dr. Niemi,  Professor of Biology and Senior Program Manager/Ecologist, Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota, Duluth , will talk about the citizen science of the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas project and its importance to advancement in ecology and birds.

Spring Workshops – Identification Skills for Birders

April 2 – May 1, 2018    Instructor, Clinton Nienhaus

Duluth Audubon Society is presenting spring workshops that will help bird watchers improve their bird identification skills.  Get the information, tips, and techniques you need to make your bird identification faster, easier, and more accurate, and most importantly, to have more fun on your bird walks.

Great Lakes Bird Migration: A Year-Long Event 

Presented by Bob Russell, April 12, 2018                                                 

Bob is a recently retired wetland bird biologist from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Regional Office in Bloomington MN where he worked as the Midwestern Regional shorebird specialist. Bob grew up in Chicago, attended St John’s U in MN, the U of Wisconsin, and the U of AZ where he was forced to spend several years researching human impacts in the Chiricahua Mountains. He has worked for the Air Force in DC for 9 years, ran a bird observatory in Ireland, and mapped the Hurricane vegetation of Florida Bay in the Everglades.
His upcoming talk on Great Lakes Bird Migration: A Year-Long Event will included an audience participatory event where you can sign up to actually help your favorite migratory species.

Climate of Hope

Presented by Bill Mittlefehldt, Cross Currents
March 8, 2018
Bill Mittlefehldt is a teacher, consultant (, and clean energy resources advisor, and participates in Sustainable Duluth. He is a purveyor of hope on the leadership team for the Arrowhead Network of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light ( He will also have information on group discounts for Duluth residents on solar installation.  Join him to explore our climate change situation, accenting positive actions, and entertaining hopeful thoughts!

Birds of Minnesota’s Big Bog Forests

Presented by Josh Bednar, Natural Resources Research Institute

February 8, 2018

Minnesota’s lowland conifer forests provide multiple ecosystem services and habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife. Disturbances such as logging, insect outbreaks, fire and climate change have the capacity to significantly alter bird communities in lowland coniferous forests. Our objectives were to document breeding bird habitat use in black spruce (Picea mariana), tamarack (eastern larch, Larix laricina) and white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) forests in Minnesota. Breeding birds were sampled at 130 points systematically distributed throughout dominant lowland conifer cover types within the Agassiz Lowland Subsection (ALS) of northern Minnesota. Species such as the Connecticut Warbler (Oporornis agilis) and Boreal Chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus) were highly associated with black spruce-tamarack bogs while other species such as the Nashville Warbler (Leiothlypis ruficapilla), Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) and White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) were ubiquitous across many lowland conifer forest types. These findings can inform forest and wildlife management decisions that will benefit the conservation and management of breeding birds in lowland conifer forests.


Presented by Kim Risen Thursday, January 11, 2018
Hummingbirds are one of the most fascinating families of birds on the planet. Their diminutive size, glittering colors, frantic actions and amazing variety of form insure their popularity wherever they occur.
While the world has around 350 different varieties of hummingbirds, Minnesota, like all of the Eastern U.S., is treated to only a single species that occurs commonly. Traveling to the Southwestern U.S. could net you dozen or more species, and Costa Rica may get you over 30, but to see a LARGE number of hummingbirds you need to visit South America. Hummingbirds reach their peak diversity in South America, and you can expect to see 70+ species on even a short visit. (We’ve seen as many as 80 species on a single, two-week trip in both Colombia and Ecuador!)
Here in the North Woods, our feisty Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a woodland gem that captivates everyone attention. Would you like to learn more about hummingbirds? We’ll introduce you to our familiar Ruby-throated Hummingbird and show you how to attract them to your yard. What plants work best? What about hummingbird feeders? Does the nectar need to be colored red? Is it possible to have hummingbirds nest in my yard? Answers to these questions and more will be discussed during the program.
Discover hummingbirds from around the world. Tropical hummingbirds are truly amazing in form, function and coloration. Evolution and sexual selection have created physical specimens that often defy belief. Many gaudily colorful, some ornately feathered and others just downright strange.
Photographing these ornamental sparklers offers a unique challenge. Kim and his wife, Cindy, have photographed hummingbirds from Alaska to South America. Do you think you might like to photograph hummingbirds? Kim will share his experiences and offer tips on photographing these avian jewels.
Join us for a fun, informative, photo-filled look at hummingbirds!