Is it hunting? A spectator sport? Hiking? However you define it, bird watching is growing in Minnesota. Minnesota Birding Weekends & Weeks (MBW) is now entering its 28th season offering unique, modestly priced birding trips in association with the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union – it originated in 1986 as MOU Birding Weekends. After 27 years, there are more than 380 MBWeekends and nearly 70 MBWeeks, approximately 6,350 registrations, a composite list of 358 species seen within Minnesota, and all 87 Minnesota counties have now been covered as of last season.
(In addition to the selection of MBWeekends, the schedule of out-of-state MBWeeks will continue. Information is available at http://mbwbirds.com/).
Continuing this season will be "Frequent Birder" Rebates – i.e., all participants will earn $5 credits for each MBWeekend they attend, with these credits accumulating to earn free registrations on future MBWeekends.
MBWeekend registrations and fees will be accepted on a “first-come-first-served" basis, based on U.S. mail postmarks (i.e., the date the registration is mailed, not the date it is received). Some MBWs can become filled months in advance. Maximum registration for most MBWeekends is 15 participants.
Multiple MBWs can be included on a single registration form and on a single check: please make checks payable to M.B.W. All MBW registrations must include an e-mail address. Unless a MBW is filled, checks are deposited as they are received and registrations are confirmed by e-mail.
Confirmed registrants canceling at least one week in advance of a MBWeekend will receive a refund of 80% of their registration fee; refunds for later cancellations would depend on the individual circumstances. Those remaining on waiting lists and not confirmed for a MBW will receive full refunds; MBWeekends which are canceled or shortened (e.g., because of weather) would also result in refunds.
A MBWeekend’s meeting time and place, lodging options, the participants list, car-pooling information, etc, are sent by e-mail to those registered, usually about 4 weeks before the MBW. Unless stated otherwise, MBWeekends normally begin at dawn on Saturday, end early to mid-afternoon on Sunday, and are typically based in the same city from Friday night until Sunday.
Transportation, meals, and lodging are generally not included in MBWeekend fees. Participants can make arrangements to car pool to the base city or to share lodging – a list of those registered and lodging options in the base city are included with the MBW's e-mail information. Participants will be able to bring their own food along for meals and/or to eat at restaurants. Birding during MBWeekends is by car-pooled caravans normally limited to four vehicles.
The Friday-only, pre-Weekend options (usually to counties not normally included on MBWs or covered by most birders) may be taken separately or in combination with the corresponding two-day MBWeekends in adjacent counties.
MBW participants are encouraged/expected to be members of the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union (http://moumn.org/join.html).
Information on all Minnesota birding adventures is available at http://mbwbirds.com/