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Birding report: Waterfowl, raptors return

This is the Northwest Minnesota Birding Report for Thursday, April 3, sponsored by the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce. You may also hear this report by calling (218) 847-5743 or 1-800-433-1888.

Spring has definitely arrived in northern Minnesota. Reports of migrants have flooded in as the first wave consisting of waterfowl, raptors, and a few passerines arrived in the northwest. Most of the water is still frozen over, but a few ducks have found the few puddles and patches of open water.

Skeins of geese are visible all over the area as the first ones come to search out the water. A few more days are needed to melt all that ice however. There are many reports of American robin and western meadowlark from all over the area.

From Kittson County, Larry Wilebski observed a northern cardinal at his feeder in the northern part of the county. Other species he reported included sandhill crane, American robin, and western meadowlark this week.

Beth Siverhus also reported that a pair of pileated woodpeckers are being seen by Lyle and Sally Lauber at Dixon Lake in western Itasca County.

Gary Tischer saw a mourning dove along CR 12 in Marshall County, and a western meadowlark was seen within Agassiz NWR on April 3. Steve Broten reported a greater prairie chicken in Marshall County about 4 miles south and one mile east of Old Mill State Park. The bird has been visiting a farm there for the past two weeks. A great blue heron was seen near Viking on March 30.

In Pennington County, there were many reports of large numbers of American robins in the city of Thief River Falls on the weekend. A merlin was spotted high in a spruce tree at the Dairy Queen on April 1. Best of all, Shelley Nyland observed an early yellow-rumped warbler in Pennington County on March 31. Shelley Steva added many Canada geese, a red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk, and common grackle, which have returned to Pennington County this week.

Red Lake County sightings by Shelley Steva on March 31 included sandhill cranes north of Oklee. On April 1, she observed 25 sharp-tailed grouse, American kestrel, mourning dove, and western meadowlark.

Bruce Flaig reported trumpeter swans in southern Polk County on March 28. Donna and Leon Thoreson watched a merlin take a meal in their yard near Climax on March 25. Gary Tischer observed about 4000 Canada geese and a number of swans in a field two miles east of US 75 along CR 21 on April 3.

Matt Mecklenburg in Clay County on March 29 reported many ducks, greater prairie-chicken, bald eagle, northern harrier, rough-legged hawk, Cooper's hawk, American kestrel, mourning dove, western meadowlark, and common grackle.

Not surprisingly, the greatest number of migrants was reported from Otter Tail County where most species of ducks are now being seen, along with large numbers of several goose species including greater white-fronted geese.

In addition, Tom Smith reported great blue heron on March 29, gray partridge, northern harrier, rough-legged hawk, American kestrel, and on March 31, mourning dove, and yellow-headed blackbird. Dan and Sandy Thimgan noted a large movement of raptors on March 30. On April 1 they saw a turkey vulture. They reported six common mergansers and northern pintail on April 2, and on the 3rd, added pied-billed grebe, American coot, ring-billed gull, eastern bluebird, and song sparrow. Amy Drake reported many of the same species along with ruffed grouse, eastern meadowlark, and red-winged blackbird.

Report bird sightings to Jeanie Joppru no later than Thursday each week at or call the Detroit Lakes Chamber at 1-800-542-3992 or 847-9202.

Please include the county where the sighting took place.