Christmas Bird Count Series – Steve’s Little Adventure: CBC #9 – Baudette (extreme North-Central Minnesota) – January 2, 2015


Today’s Baudette Christmas Bird Count would be in and just outside of the border town of Baudette, which proclaims itself the “Walleye capital of the World”. Rosalie’s Restaurant does have a tasty walleye dinner!  Photo by Sheryl DeVore.

The high temperature for today would not break into double-digits (9 degrees), but with the cloudy skies  there was also no full radiational cooling, so the low wasn’t too bad, one degree above zero!

Sheryl bundled up for PittRd.hike BeltramiIslandCBC_1-1-15_SteveBailey

Sheryl ready for another day of warm birding! Almost as cute as a red squirrel… I wonder if it eats pine nuts too? Photo by Steve Bailey.

Although our coverage area for today was mostly in more open habitats, there were still plenty of patches of woodland and bog to keep things interesting.

Baudette circle cbcsmall

The Baudette CBC circle coverage area.

But before Dan, Barbara, &  and Sheryl and I would split and go our separate ways for the morning’s birding, we had to make one detour to see some birds that would already be getting counted at the Baudette compilation host’s (& fellow CBC participant) rural home just outside Baudette. Why look at birds that were already going to be seen and counted by others? The answer is because these birds were one of the more highly sought-after bird-species in the Midwest, Evening Grosbeaks! The flock had been coming to the large platform feeder in their yard for some time already. Although there were a few chickadees and a Downy Woodpecker coming to their feeder when we arrived… no grosbeaks. Though we waited for a while, there were new birds to be counted so we left and came back in a few hours… and were very glad we did! For when we arrived back, a small flock of grosbeaks were perched in the front yard casually munching on one of their favorite native foods, Box Elder seed pods!  But wait, what’s that big flock of birds that just landed in the big Box Elder tree in the back yard?  All told there was a minimum of 65 beautiful Evening Grosbeaks perched close-by, giving Sheryl and I some of the best looks we’d had in many years, especially of so many of these gorgeous finches!

EVGR flock1

A flock of Evening Grosbeaks.

Today would be Sheryl and I in the morning covering a couple of rural areas plus areas in the town of Baudette, then Kevin Kaltenbach (who had ridden up with Dan & Barbara from Rockford) and I covering other rural areas including some boggy fragments outside of town.  It would be a good day for corvids (a 5 corvid day!) as my parties would see 79 American Crows, 38 Common Ravens (Yeah!), 7 Blue Jays, 2 Gray Jays and 4 Black-billed Magpies (one right behind our motel!), another new bird for the trip. In town we missed a species almost never missed on this CBC, House Sparrow, though I can’t say that was a bad thing, since we did see 10 Rock Pigeons and 16 European Starlings that we were lucky enough to miss yesterday in the bog. Another exciting and new species for the trip today were eleven Sharp-tailed Grouse, including 4 birds perched ten feet up in some small saplings feeding on buds! We also tallied 31 Bohemian Waxwings though one was simply heard and the other 30 were a flock of quick flybys in town heading out over the Rainy River. The Rainy River forms the International boundary line with Ontario, Canada flowing west out of Rainy Lake near International Falls and dumping into Lake-of-the-Woods several miles west of Baudette. Other good birds on the day were a Rough-legged Hawk, 3 Barred Owls,

BDOW_RoseauCBC_1-3-15_S.Bailey PShop Crop

One of the three very cooperative Barred Owls I called in on the day. Photo by Steve Bailey.

4 Pine Grosbeaks (a 2-grosbeak day!), 3 Golden-crowned Kinglets and 87 Common Redpolls.  Normally I wouldn’t consider Barred Owls and Golden-crowned Kinglets to be such good birds, but the kinglets had never been recorded before in the 33-year history of this Christmas Bird Count! There had also been a grand total of six Barred Owls found on this CBC in the first 32 years… I had three by myself this year! My Barred Owl imitation called in a number of other good birds on these two counts including most/many of the corvids I recorded, the Pine Grosbeaks on both today’s and yesterday’s CBC, the White-winged Crossbills yesterday, and today’s only Golden-crowned Kinglets, who were coming in with a flock of chickadees, nuthatches, redpolls, Blue Jays and woodpeckers.

Due to this years increased participation, species totals were some of the best on record for both of Martin’s CBCs! Baudette had reached 30 species twice in previous years as well as 31 species twice. This year we recorded a new all-time record of 32 species… even missing House Sparrow (even though Martin checked a known roosting spot for them in the nighttime hours of count day with a flashlight! That’s dedication). The Beltrami Island CBC yesterday tied for its third highest total species ever recorded with 24 species, having recorded 24 one other year and 26 & 27 species in two other years. The difference in the two counts (though they almost abut one another) is the total lack of introduced species including Rock Pigeon, European Starling and House Sparrows having ever been recorded on the Beltrami Island CBC (I’ll take the fewer species!). However, the Beltrami Island CBC has recorded three species of grouse (Spruce, Ruffed & Sharp-tailed) and six species of owl (including Great Gray, No. Hawk, Boreal & No. Saw-whet!), as well as several other highly sought-after bird species including Northern Goshawk, Golden and Bald Eagles, Three-toed & Black-backed Woodpeckers,


Three-toed Woodpecker, an uncommon but distinct possibility on Martin’s two northern Minnesota CBCs. Photo by Carl Greiner.

Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Gray Jay, Common Raven, Black-billed Magpie, Boreal Chickadee, both Evening and Pine Grosbeaks, both crossbill species, & Common & Hoary Redpolls.

White-winged Crossbills on the Baudette Christmas Bird Count

A male White-winged Crossbill feeding on a white spruce cone in the bog, a regular feature of the two CBCs begun by Martin Kehoe in northern Minnesota.  Photo by Carl Greiner.

That’s about the whole suite of boreal forest and other interesting northern bird species! The only species that I missed on these two CBCs that I was hoping to see on at least one of them was the Boreal Chickadee… but that’s what future trips to help on northern Minnesota CBCs are for!


The Boreal Chickadee that will be waiting for me on these two Christmas Bird Counts next winter. Photo by John Kelsey.


Beltrami Island all-time CBC results.


Baudette all-time CBC results.

Sunset in the bog BeltramiIsland CBC_1-1-15_S.Bailey

Sunset in the bog. Photo by Steve Bailey.

Species found by my parties today: 21


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