December · Christmas Bird Counts: Usually mid-month Saturday. Many of these are held each year throughout the state as part of a historic national bird census.
December · Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union Paper Session and Annual Meeting: The first Saturday of December, Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus (annual).
Month-by-Month Birding in Minnesota
January · All birders return to “go.” This is the month for true Minnesota species, but interesting visitors occur: Snowy and Great Gray owls, Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, Redpolls, and Tree Sparrows, among others.
February · Beginning of spring migration. Horned Larks are first returnees. Great Horned Owls are incubating eggs.
March · Waterfowl begin to return to the state. Bald Eagles follow open water north.
April · Early in month, shorebird migration. Late in month, the first of Minnesota’s summer birds are arriving.
May · The huge push north of migrants and Minnesota nesters. This is the busiest month on a birder’s calendar, the month for “big days”* and birdathons.
June · Majority of resident nesters on territory and courting.
July · Beginning of fall migration, first shorebirds moving south.
August · More shorebirds and some raptors begin moving south.
September · Serious fall migration of our nesting species. Movement of swallows and nighthawks. Peak migration for smaller raptors.
October · Larger raptors moving south. First winter finches arrive. The single best month for finding rare and unusual birds here.
November · Last of ducks moving out of state. Swans gathering on Mississippi River near Winona are at peak numbers. Bald Eagles numbers peaking in migration.
December · Christmas Bird Counts. The final migrants leave. If northern owls invade the state, this is one of the months when they will be in evidence (also November and January).
Big Day, a competitive (but friendly) birding event. A “big day” is an event in which birders (one or more) attempt to see as many bird species as possible within a defined geographic area (such as a county) during a particular period of time (usually 24 consecutive hours). This is a game. It has rules. Scores are kept in the form of the records.
Highest Statewide Big Day Total: 192 species on 5/21/83 by Kim Eckert, Paul Egeland, Henry Kyllingstad, Terry Savaloja.