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 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
Climate of Hope
Presented by Bill Mittlefehldt, Cross Currents
March 8, 2018
Bill Mittlefehldt is a teacher, consultant (ccurrents.org), 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 (mnipl.org). 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.
North Shore Sea Duck Trip
with Clinton Nienhaus
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Duluth Audubon has recently added a now staple trip to the late season field trip season: the North Shore Sea Duck Trip! This is the third year of the trip and each year we have succeeded in finding our targeted species: Sea Ducks! The sea ducks include diving ducks that are not seen regular in the US outside of the Great Lakes and the East and West coasts. The ducks include the eiders, scoters, Long-tailed, and Harlequin ducks. This trip, we were able to find a total of 6 White-winged Scoters and numerous Long-tailed Ducks. Other sea ducks did elude us, but we were able to add a couple of rarer species to the trip, including Townsend’s Solitaire (in two locations!), Rusty Blackbird (a bit on the late side), Western Meadowlark (annual in the fall, but still uncommon), and a pair of late Yellow-rumped Warblers. This long day trip, starting in Duluth and ending in Grand Marais was attended by a total of 8 folks, an average showing. Fun was had by all on a beautiful day for a drive up the North Shore! Below is the species list from the trip. – Clinton Nienhaus, Secretary and Field Trip Committee Chair
Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull*
Birding the Tundra of Manitoba: Churchill-Arctic Wildlife Mecca or Last Frontier on its Last Gasp? with Sparky Stensaas
November 9, 2017
Churchill, Manitoba on Hudson Bay is famous for its Polar Bears and Beluga Whales, but did you know this was once a birding Mecca?
Superior Harbor Gull Watch
with Clinton Nienhaus
Weeks 1 and 2, 2017: This year marks the second season of Superior Entry Gull Watches, led by Clinton Nienhaus, at Superior Entry on Wisconsin Point. Gulls are a great group of birds, but often cause ID problems for many birders. Theses watches were started with the intention to teach and learn more about gulls through our observations! During weeks 1 and 2, we have had 13 total attendees and have been pleasantly surprised with great looks at lots of birds! Most exciting have been the sightings of Lesser Black-backed gull. This species is typically an early fall visitor to the area and we rarely see them outside of the month of September. During week 1, we had two individual first cycle birds, one of which continued into week 2. Other gulls that have given us some great learning opportunities have been the good number of Iceland (Thayer’s) gulls that have been seen. Week 1 had 13 individuals, representing all age classes and week 2 had 11 individuals represent all but one age class. These birds have been fun to see in comparison to the numerous Herring Gulls. We have also have been pleasantly surprised with observations of species we have not observed before at the Gull Watches, including Red Crossbill, Northern Goshawk, and a mega surprise flyover by a Short-eared Owl! Below is a summary of the species observed during week 1 and 2. The * denotes uncommon or rare species. – Clinton Nienhaus, Secretary and Field Trip Committee Chair
Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull*
Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull*
Weeks 3 and 4, 2017: What a difference from Weeks 1 and 2! The last two gull watches were quite different: Week 3 had only about 225 gulls present and most of which arrived about 25 minutes into our watch! However, there were some great birds to be seen. One of the two Lesser Black-backed Gulls continued into its third week of gull watches and we got wonderful looks at a gorgeous adult Glaucous Gull! Also interesting from Week 3’s observations was that no adult Iceland (Thayer’s) Gulls were seen, in comparison to adults making up the majority of the observations of Iceland (Thayer’s) Gulls in prior weeks. We also had an amazing and puzzling bird: a dark-eyed Herring Gull. Dark-eyed American Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus smithsonianus) have been very rarely documented with dark eyes, unlike their counter part European Herring Gulls (L. a. argentatus) which are frequently documented with dark eyes.
Week 4 saw about 500 total gulls, which seems large, but was nearly half as many as there were the previous day: gulls can be fickle! Most exciting this week were two Glaucous Gulls, including a different first cycle from the first week and the adult from Week 3. We also were treated with a group of Red Crossbills and pleasant gull watching weather for the end of November. A full species report for Weeks 3 and 4 follow this report. The * denotes uncommon or rare species for the date.
In total, this season saw 24 total attendees to the DAS Superior Entry Gull Watches! We observed a total of 5 species of gull. Out of the expected species for this location and season, we only missed one expected species: Great Black-backed Gull. There have been very few Great Black-backed Gulls around the Twin Ports this season, with only 2 or 3 individuals reported so far this year. We also saw a total of 23 species through our visits though we didn’t hit the greatest diversity of gulls, we certainly were able to take extra time to learn about the gulls that were present. Learning was the intention of these trips and from attendees coming back from one week to the next, that learning was further solidified.
If you are interested in learning gulls, the Twin Ports is a great area to spend some time! One further consideration to make, is that during our Bird ID 201 Workshop, we will take two days to consider the finer points of Gull ID!
Thank you to those who came out to enjoy gulls during the 2017 Superior Entry Gull Watches! We will see you next year!”
Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull**
Iceland *Thayer’s) Gull
Birding Big Day at Boulder Lake ELC
May 15, 2017
Good day, good turnout and 74 species identified.