Events

Bird Language: Sat, Apr 1

posted Mar 11, 2017, 7:47 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Mar 11, 2017, 7:47 PM ]

Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering

Saturday, April 1
9:00 - 1:00

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
3815 American Blvd E
Bloomington, MN 55425

Registration for these gatherings is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop by--and it would be great to know that you are coming!

Birds talk to each other. We can learn to understand it. And it's fun!

Great-horned owls have been nesting since February, and may be raising their chicks by now. We have gotten some reports of owl sightings near hillside trail over the winter and early spring--and may have caught a glimpse of one at our March gathering. Are there owls nesting near by? Do they have young? One things is for sure, the local songbirds know. Come join us as we eavesdrop on their neighborhood gossip.


What should I bring?

Bring what you need to be comfortable sitting still, outside on the ground for an extended period of time—perhaps as long as an hour. You will also need something to take notes on. You do not need to have binoculars, but there is no harm in bringing a pair if you would like. Here are a few recommended and optional items to bring:

Recommended:

Note pad & pencil
Ground cloth, blanket or camp-chair
Appropriate clothing for sitting still outside
Sun protection
Poncho if it is raining

Optional:
Water bottle
Snack
Binoculars

Sign me up!

Registration is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop in and join us—and it would be great to know you are coming! If you have any questions, or to register for the event:

For a map & directions click here

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge


March Tracking Club: The Art of Trailing

posted Mar 11, 2017, 7:02 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Mar 11, 2017, 7:02 PM ]

Come join us for our next Tracking Excursion at Ft. Snelling State Park:

Sunday, March 19
9:00am - 1:00pm

We will gather at the Ft. Snelling State Park visitor center:

Ft. Snelling State Park
101 Snelling Lake Rd
West St Paul, MN 55111


In track and sign identification we let our senses take in every detail of a track or other marking to learn about an animal's motion, behavior, and relationship with ecology. In the Art of Trailing we don't spend as much attention on just one track or sign, but let our awareness pick up on a larger pattern of disturbances that provide clues of where an animal is going. And if you can keep moving along the trial, you might just catch a glimpse of the animal. This month we will spend some time with exercises that can help you pick up on a fresh trail and follow an animal.

This is an all-weather event and we spend time off trail. Please bring appropriate footwear and dress for several hours outdoors in whatever weather we may have that day.

We will gather at 9:00 in the fireplace room in the Visitor Center. We will head out on the trail about 9:20 and return to the visitor center about noon for a brief mapping exercise and wrap-up session. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Jon's cell phone at 612-388-4700.

Note that you need a State Park pass to drive to the Visitor Center, but you can park for free at the Historic Fort Snelling visitor center. It is about a half-mile walk past the historic fort and down the hill to get to the State Park visitor center. The Historic Fort parking is located at 200 Tower Ave, St Paul, MN 55111

RSVPs are encouraged, but not required.

Click Here for Directions

Ft. Snelling Visitor Center


Bird Language Weekend: May 5-7

posted Feb 9, 2017, 5:16 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Feb 14, 2017, 7:48 AM ]

Save the Date:


Friday late afternoon, May 5, through
Sunday afternoon, May 7

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
2660 Fawn Lake Dr NE
Bethel, MN 55005


Experience Life Through the Eyes of the Birds

Birds and animals share a common language. Their calls and alarms help them stay safe from danger. We can learn to understand this language. In fact, we are “hard-wired” to learn this, as countless generations of our ancestors depended on this ancient skill to survive, around the world. Largely forgotten by modern peoples, this understanding is sorely needed at this time of cultural upheaval and natureʼs shifting patterns.

During this weekend-long program, you will be immersed in a community of nature connection mentors and learners. Through exercises, instruction, games and lots of time sitting in the woods, the community setting amplifies each individual’s learning journey. Together as a group we will begin to uncover unique patterns of the local  birds and animals, and what they are telling us through their behavior and language. We are currently finalizing our plans for the weekend. Check back in mid-March for complete details.



The Program

This program follows the principles of Bird Language shared by Jon Young in his book, What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World. Our team of facilitators combine decades of experience in birding, wildlife tracking, group facilitation, and nature connection mentoring. We are one of the groups piloting Jon Young's Bird Language Leaders program and have been running bird language programs across the state for the past two years. Lead facilitator Jonathan Poppele has trained with Jon Young since 1998 and is the Minnesota coordinator for Bird Language Leaders. The weekend will include instruction, exercises, storytelling, games, and lots of time sitting quietly in the woods observing and connecting with nature.


The Facility

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is a 5,400 acre experimental ecological reserve operated by the University of Minnesota. It is located about 35 miles north of Minneapolis and St. Paul, just east of Bethel. Cedar Creek lies at the boundary between prairie and forest. It is a mosaic of uplands dominated by oak savanna, prairie, hardwood forest, pine forests, and abandoned agricultural fields; and of lowlands comprised of ash and cedar swamps, acid bogs, marshes, and sedge meadows. The area was first set aside in the early 1940s to be kept in its natural condition for scientific and educational purposes. Much of the land remains pristine, and has never been developed for agriculture. The land is host to a wide diversity of terrestrial and avian predators including fisher, bear, owls, hawks and falcons. You can learn more at www.cedarcreek.umn.edu


Contact us:

If you have any questions about the program, here is how you can reach us:
If you have questions about the facility, please contact Cedar Creek


For a map & directions to Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, click here

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Bird Language: Sat, Mar 4

posted Feb 9, 2017, 10:41 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Mar 2, 2017, 7:14 AM ]

Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering

Saturday, March 4
9:00 - 1:00

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
3815 American Blvd E
Bloomington, MN 55425

Registration for these gatherings is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop by--and it would be great to know that you are coming!

Birds talk to each other. We can learn to understand it. And it's fun!

March is the beginning of meteorological spring and some migrant and resident songbirds are beginning to stake out territories. Songs and territorial aggression signal the warmer weather to come, and provide a more dynamic baseline of activity in the forest. Come join us on the slopes of the Minnesota River Valley as we see what we can learn from the birds though the disturbances in the dynamic baseline of early spring.


What should I bring?

Bring what you need to be comfortable sitting still, outside on the ground for an extended period of time—perhaps as long as an hour. You will also need something to take notes on. You do not need to have binoculars, but there is no harm in bringing a pair if you would like. Here are a few recommended and optional items to bring:

Recommended:

Note pad & pencil
Ground cloth, blanket or camp-chair
Appropriate clothing for sitting still outside
Sun protection
Poncho if it is raining

Optional:
Water bottle
Snack
Binoculars

Sign me up!

Registration is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop in and join us—and it would be great to know you are coming! If you have any questions, or to register for the event:

For a map & directions click here

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge


February Tracking Club: Otter Love Winter

posted Feb 9, 2017, 10:01 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Feb 9, 2017, 5:18 PM ]

Come join us for our next Tracking Excursion at Ft. Snelling State Park:

Sunday, February 19
9:00am - 1:00pm

We will gather at the Ft. Snelling State Park visitor center:

Ft. Snelling State Park
101 Snelling Lake Rd
West St Paul, MN 55111


North American River Otters are just plain fun to track. That they are also good indicator of the health of an aquatic ecosystem. Since 2009, the National Park Service has been conducting track and sign surveys along the Mississippi River to study our metro area otter populations. This year, we are partnering with the NPS to survey Ft. Snelling State Park. Come join us as we search the shores of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers for signs of these inquisitive aquatic members of the weasel family, and learn to distinguish their tracks and sign from those of other animals.

This is an all-weather event and we spend time off trail. Please bring appropriate footwear and dress for several hours outdoors in whatever weather we may have that day.

We will gather at 9:00 in the fireplace room in the Visitor Center. We will head out on the trail about 9:20 and return to the visitor center about noon for a brief mapping exercise and wrap-up session. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Jon's cell phone at 612-388-4700.

Note that you need a State Park pass to drive to the Visitor Center, but you can park for free at the Historic Fort Snelling visitor center. It is about a half-mile walk past the historic fort and down the hill to get to the State Park visitor center. The Historic Fort parking is located at 200 Tower Ave, St Paul, MN 55111

RSVPs are encouraged, but not required.

Click Here for Directions

Ft. Snelling Visitor Center


February Frolic: Games & Nature Connection Gathering

posted Jan 9, 2017, 9:44 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 29, 2017, 2:36 PM ]

Come join friends for mid-winter fun at scenic Lake Elmo Park Reserve!


Sunday, February 5 

12:00 - 5:00 pm


Nordic Center
Lake Elmo Park Reserve
1515 Keats Ave N
Lake Elmo, MN 55042

You really otter join us for mid-winter fun at scenic Lake Elmo Park Reserve! Gather at the Nordic Center at noon to meet old friends and new acquaintances. Activities include cross country skiing (weather permitting), nature wandering, and games.

After enjoying an afternoon outdoors, we’ll share snacks and hot drinks in the Nordic Center. The afternoon will wrap up around 5:00 pm.

Hope to see you there!



What to bring:

  • Warm boots
  • Winter clothing (see below)
  • Skis (optional)
  • Snowshoes (optional)
  • Snacks and beverages


Schedule & Activities

Noon: Meet at the Nordic Center for cross country skiing or nature wandering, depending on snow conditions.
2:00: Meet at the Nordic Center for Games. Games may include Capture the Flag, Fox and Geese, Animal Form Races, and more - be prepared to move!
4:00: Hot drinks and snacks in Nordic Center
4:45-5:00: Wrap-up




Questions (and some answers):

Are there fees for parking or skiing?

A Washington County Parks vehicle fee is required for the park ($7 per day or $30 for the season). Season passes are also good at Anoka County Parks and Carver County Parks. Skiers age 16 and over need to have a Minnesota State Ski Pass ($20 for the season or $6 per day). Arrive early to secure passes, find parking, and get fitted for ski equipment.

How are trail conditions for skiing?

Check out Washington County Trail Reports
and Skinny Ski Trail Reports
for the latest info

What should I bring for drinks and snacks?

Feel free to bring beverages, including hot drinks in a thermos, mugs, and finger-food snacks to share with others. We will bring some extra mugs and serving plates. We don’t have access to a kitchen or refrigerator.

What should I wear? It’s cold out there!

Check out this helpful resource from REI about dressing for cold weather. For more tips about staying warm, dry and comfortable outside in the cold, take a look at this page from The Big Outside. Feel free to bring a change of dry clothes as we will be more active in the afternoon and less active in the evening. There are places in the Nordic Center to change clothes.


RSVP

Encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop in and join us—and it would be great to know you are coming! If you have any questions, or to RSVP:

E-mail Jonathan <poppele@umn.edu>
Use our online Contact Form
Link to this event here on Facebook

For map and directions, click here

Nordic Center at Lake Elmo Park Reserve



Bird Language: Sat, Feb 4

posted Jan 9, 2017, 9:21 PM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 9, 2017, 9:24 PM ]

Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering

Saturday, February 4
9:00 - 1:00

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
3815 American Blvd E
Bloomington, MN 55425

Registration for these gatherings is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop by--and it would be great to know that you are coming!

Birds talk to each other. We can learn to understand it. And it's fun!

The first week of February marks mid-winter--the half-way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Chickadees and nuthatches are still moving about in their winter feeding flocks. The robins are still feeding high in the canopy. But owls are beginning to nest--and the songbirds will be keeping an eye on them. Come join us on the slopes of the Minnesota River Valley as we listen in on the birds conversations and see a bit of the winter forest through their eyes.

What should I bring?

Bring what you need to be comfortable sitting still, outside on the ground for an extended period of time—perhaps as long as an hour. You will also need something to take notes on. You do not need to have binoculars, but there is no harm in bringing a pair if you would like. Here are a few recommended and optional items to bring:

Recommended:

Note pad & pencil
Ground cloth, blanket or camp-chair
Warm clothing for sitting still outside

Optional:
Water bottle
Snack
Binoculars

Sign me up!

Registration is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop in and join us—and it would be great to know you are coming! If you have any questions, or to register for the event:

For a map & directions click here

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge


Winter Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey: Sat, Jan 28

posted Jan 9, 2017, 9:53 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 20, 2017, 9:50 AM ]

**RESCHEDULED** 


Please Join us for the Winter Tracking Survey at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve


Saturday, January 28
9:00am - 4:00pm

About the Survey

The Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey is a joint venture between the Minnesota Wildlife Tracking Project and the University of Minnesota's Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. It is a unique opportunity to improve your tracking skills, connect with nature, and help Cedar Creek scientists learn about the wildlife living on their property.

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is a 5,400 acre experimental ecological reserve operated by the University of Minnesota. It is located about 35 miles north of Minneapolis and St. Paul, just east of Bethel.

Cedar Creek lies at the boundary between prairie and forest. It is a mosaic of uplands dominated by oak savanna, prairie, hardwood forest, pine forests, and abandoned agricultural fields and of lowlands comprised of ash and cedar swamps, acid bogs, marshes, and sedge meadows. The area was first set aside in the early 1940s to be kept in its natural condition for scientific and educational purposes. Much of the land remains pristine, and has never been developed for agriculture. You can learn more at www.cedarcreek.umn.edu


Great Tracking

The diverse, pristine habitat supports a wide variety of mammals. In our past surveys, we have found the tracks of black bear, fisher, skunk, among others. If you are a beginner, the surveys will offer an overview of the diversity of Minnesota Mammals. For the advanced tracker, you might get to try your hand at distinguishing fisher from otter; fox squirrel from grey squirrel; and a variety of tiny mammal tracks. You can take a look at more of what our tracking teams have found on our iNaturalist Project Page

Public access to the Reserve is limited. The Cedar Creek Wildlife Survey program offers you the rare opportunity to explore this exceptional landscape.


Snow Tracking Workshop, Sunday, January 15

We highly recommend that anyone planning to join the survey for the first time attend our January Tracking Club for an introduction to snow tracking.

Saturday, January 15, 9:00am - 1:00pm

Ft. Snelling State Park Visitor Center
101 Snelling Lake Rd
West St Paul, MN 55111

Click here for directions

If you are new to wildlife tracking surveys, want to brush up on tracking basics, or just want a chance to get together with other tracking enthusiasts, please join us. Full details here

Winter Survey, Saturday, January 28

Our Winter Survey will take place one week after our Snow Tracking Workshop. We will head out in teams to survey road transects for animal tracks, then come back in to share our discoveries with one another. Each team will be led by an experienced wildlife tracker, certified in Track & Sign identification.

Saturday, January 28
9:00am - 4:00pm

If you will not have attended a training, but still want to participate in the survey, let us know. We will do our best to accommodate everyone who wants to take part. To sign up for the survey:


For a map & directions to Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, click here

Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

January Tracking Event: Snow/Drift

posted Jan 9, 2017, 9:22 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Jan 9, 2017, 9:35 AM ]

Come join us for our next Tracking Excursion at Ft. Snelling State Park:

Sunday, January 15
9:00am - 1:00pm

We will gather at the Ft. Snelling State Park visitor center:

Ft. Snelling State Park
101 Snelling Lake Rd
West St Paul, MN 55111


Snow creates a completely different landscape for tracking. While fresh snow can make seeing and following animal tracks easy, it can also create new challenges by obscuring track details, distorting the size and shape of common tracks, and changing animal behavior. We need to use different approaches and look for different clues to identify snowed-in our melted-out prints. This month, we will explore the tracks and sign covering the (hopefully) snowy landscape at Ft. Snelling.

This is an all-weather event and we spend time off trail. Please bring appropriate footwear and dress for several hours outdoors in sub-freezing temperatures.

We will gather at 9:00 in the fireplace room in the Visitor Center. We will head out on the trail about 9:20 and return to the visitor center about 11:00 to journal, share and wrap up the day. If you need to reach us the day of the outing, please call Donnie's cell phone at 952-334-5471.

Note that you need a State Park pass to drive to the Visitor Center, but you can park for free at the Historic Fort Snelling visitor center. It is about a half-mile walk past the historic fort and down the hill to get to the State Park visitor center. The Historic Fort parking is located at 200 Tower Ave, St Paul, MN 55111

RSVPs are encouraged, but not required.

Click Here for Directions

Ft. Snelling Visitor Center


Bird Language: Sat, Jan 7

posted Dec 12, 2016, 10:47 AM by Jonathan Poppele   [ updated Dec 12, 2016, 11:12 AM ]

Please join us for our next Bird Language Gathering

Saturday, January 7
9:00 - 1:00

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
3815 American Blvd E
Bloomington, MN 55425

Registration for these gatherings is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop by--and it would be great to know that you are coming!

Birds talk to each other. We can learn to understand it. And it's fun!

Last year, the winter feeding flocks kept watch over the barred owls roosting along the Hillside Trail. After several sits, our group started to get familiar with the subtle bands of suppression and excitement that surrounded the owls. The barred owls seem to be roosting in a different part of the Refuge now. Will they return this winter? Has a great-horned owl moved in? One thing is for sure--the songbirds know. Join us as we gather to eavesdrop on their conversations. And perhaps catch sight of an owl in the process.


What should I bring?

Bring what you need to be comfortable sitting still, outside on the ground for an extended period of time—perhaps as long as an hour. You will also need something to take notes on. You do not need to have binoculars, but there is no harm in bringing a pair if you would like. Here are a few recommended and optional items to bring:

Recommended:

Note pad & pencil
Ground cloth, blanket or camp-chair
Sun protection
Poncho if it is raining

Optional:
Water bottle
Snack
Binoculars

Sign me up!

Registration is encouraged, but not required. Feel free to drop in and join us—and it would be great to know you are coming! If you have any questions, or to register for the event:

For a map & directions click here

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge


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