From Birding

Lifebirds #443-448 – Not Too Bad Salt Lake

 Event programThis was our first year attending this festival, a 37-year-old Minnesota tradition centered on La qui Parle County in western Minnesota and a brackish lake that straddles the Minnesota/South Dakota state line.

The brackish lake is named Salt Lake. It is not to be confused with Utah’s Great Salt Lake. In fact, in Minnesota-speak, it might well be called Not Too Bad a Salt Lake. The birding wasn’t too bad, that’s for sure. Joann and I found six life birds (see list below) during the one-day event, and our total species count of 72 made it our biggest “big day” ever. Despite the cold and drizzly weather, we had a fantastic time with an enthusiastic group of 80 birders who were happy to share their scopes and expertise (Joann and I have a lot of trouble identifying shorebirds).

American Golden-PloverThe organizer of the festival, Ken Larson, has participated for each of its 37 years. His father started the event; Ken and his wife Mary Lou Frank carry on the tradition with exceptional generosity. They opened their farm home to birders during the day, and its feeder birds and restrooms were quite popular (not necessarily in that order). Birders were even welcome to camp on their property, and several did. The only cost to the event was for the dinner served by the folks of Madison, Minnesota’s Sons of Norway Hall. For $10, it was quite a bargain—particularly on a per-calorie basis.

I was unable to photograph any birds during the day, but I’ve added my photo (above at right) of one of our six lifers.[1] This shot of an American Golden-Plover was taken August 15, 2012 in Grand Marais, Minnesota.

Species  Pectoral Sandpiper / Calidris melanotos
Where USA-MN-Lac qui Parle County
Species  Semipalmated Plover / Charadrius semipalmatus
Species  American Golden-Plover / Pluvialis dominica
Species  Marbled Godwit / Limosa fedoa
Where USA-MN-Lac qui Parle County-Cory Lake
Species  Semipalmated Sandpiper / Calidris pusilla
Species  Wilson’s Phalarope / Phalaropus tricolor
Where USA-SD-Grant-Salt Lake area
When Apr 28 2012
Who Joann
Numbers 443-448



  1. In fact, Joann saw only five lifers. The Marbled Godwit was a lifer for me, but not for her. She saw her first on May 22, 2010 at Chippewa Prairie in Swift County, Minnesota. [^]

See lifebird index.