Spring 2017

Guided Bird Walks during Spring Migration
Tuesdays @ 9 a.m. & Saturdays @ 8 a.m.

Photo of Black-and-white Warbler by Stephen Greenfield

Many migrating birds visit the Sanctuary on their long journeys! Friends of Roberts will lead bird walks at 8 a.m. on Saturday mornings starting April 15 and through May. Please meet in the visitors shelter at the east entrance, near the parking lot. (Note: this parking lot is a pay lot; some people park on Lake Harriet Parkway as a free alternative.)

The Minneapolis Audubon Society will also lead bird walks in Roberts, as it has for almost 100 years. Come and bird with people who carry on the legacy of those early birders!
When: Every Tuesday in April and May at 9 a.m. (rain, snow, wind, or shine)
Where: Meet in the parking lot near the visitors shelter at the east entrance
Who: All are welcome, whether new to birding or a seasoned birder!

Naturalists from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board will lead two bird walks in May: Tuesday, May 9 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 21 from 7:30 to 9 a.m.

Words on Warblers in Roberts

 Come and join the bird walks in the Sanctuary
to look for these beautiful and impressive travelers.

If you ask American birders what species first got them interested in birds, the answer is likely to be some member of the wood warblers family, Parulidae. Small and active birds, most warblers are attractive and many have songs that are pretty or at least distinctive. But most of all, it is the diversity of the family that appeals to people and leads to further involvement: there are over 50 species in the US, with great variety in plumage, even in those that are closely related. Thirty-two species have been recorded in Roberts Bird Sanctuary, with about 23 of those normally present at least at some time each year.

(The name was given by the early English settlers based on their similarity to Old World warblers, which are in a different family and not closely related... almost all of which are duller, but some of which actually do “warble”.)
Most warblers are insectivorous and arboreal; Ovenbirds and the misnamed Northern Waterthrush differ in being largely terrestrial. They are classic “Neotropical migrants”: just two or three species sometimes nest in Roberts – Yellow Warbler, Northern Yellowthroat (pictured), and American Redstart – with all the other regular visitors nesting further north, and all leaving the state in winter. A few winter in the southern US, and some as far as the Equator, an amazing accomplishment for birds typically weighing about 1/3 of an ounce. A handful of species arrive in our area in late April, especially the numerous Yellow-rumped Warblers, with the latest migrants (Mourning and the secretive Connecticut Warblers) passing through by the end of May.
Adult males of many of the species are more colorful than females and juvenile birds, but only in spring and summer, so identification is much harder during Fall migration, when they often don’t sing either.
Save the dates for Garlic Mustard Pulls!

One of our challenges in protecting and enhancing the habitat for birds and other wildlife is to prevent the spread of invasive species within the Sanctuary. Spring is the best time to pull garlic mustard, which threatens our urban forests by crowding out other plants and decreasing diversity. This Spring we will also be planting native woodland plants in areas where we have pulled invasive species.
Pulling garlic mustard is quite easy with gloves and a trowel for the bigger plants with deeper roots. FRBS has scheduled multiple pulls to ensure that everyone who would like to volunteer can find a day (or multiple days!) to attend. Pulls will begin the first week of May and occur also in William Berry Woods, another remnant native plant community which is near Roberts and also part of the Chain of Lakes Important Bird Area. Here is the schedule of garlic mustard pulls at both locations:

Roberts Bird Sanctuary (look for signs at the visitors shelter):

-  Saturday, May 20 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
-  Tuesdays, May 9, 16, and 23 from 5 to 7 p.m.

William Berry Woods (look for signs at the picnic table near the sidewalk):

-  Tuesday, May 30 from 5 to 7 p.m.
-  Saturday, June 3 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

For more information, please send an email to, or check our Facebook page or the FRBS website

At the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, garlic mustard pulls will be hosted by Friends of the Wildflower Garden on these dates:
-  Sunday, May 7 from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
-  Saturday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
-  Saturday, May 20, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.
-  Sunday, June 4 from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m.
For more information about pulls at the Wildflower Garden, send an email to:

Update: Roberts Capital Improvement Project

Fence repairs are planned soon

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) capital improvements project for Roberts "examines how the Sanctuary can best support avian habitat, while providing education and low-impact access to park goers." A "preferred design concept" outlining key improvements is being finalized, before construction in 2017.

The drawing above shows the reworked design for the Sanctuary's east entrance, based on meetings with several MPRB Commissioners and representatives of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis, Minnesota Citizens for the Protection of Migratory Birds, and Friends of Roberts. A large wooden deck will be built adjacent to the west side of the existing visitors shelter, and a gravel path will run from the shelter to Bossen Lane, after moving a section of the fence slightly further east to enclose the new path inside the Sanctuary. MPRB will not remove trees for the new trail or fence line. Friends of Roberts believes that the redesigned plan, especially the wooden deck, is more appropriate for the Sanctuary, being smaller in scale and more consistent with the visitors shelter design than earlier sketches.

As part of this project, MPRB Planning staff is working through the details of repairing and replacing sections of the Sanctuary fence as soon as possible, especially along Lake Harriet Parkway. According to the Project Manager, the work will be at the perimeter of the Sanctuary and not within it. Construction will start in late May or early June and take a few weeks to complete, with no work on the weekends unless they run into time constraints. No trails will be closed during construction.

For more information, contact MPRB Project Manager Tyler Pederson at 612.499.9084 or


Lake Harriet & Bde Maka Ska/Lake Calhoun Master Plan
Public Hearing

Wednesday, April 19, 6:30 p.m.
MPRB Headquarters
2117 West River Road 

A public hearing for the Calhoun/Bde Maka Ska-Harriet Master Plan is scheduled for April 19, 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room at MPRB headquarters. Interested community members are invited to attend and comment on the Master Plan, which creates a 25-year vision for Lake Calhoun/Bde Maka Ska, Lake Harriet, and surrounding parkland within Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park.

MPRB's draft Master Plan can be found on the MPRB Project Page

Friends of Roberts submitted a letter with feedback on the draft Plan.

The ABCs of Nature in Roberts Bird Sanctuary
On a drizzly, early spring day in March 2016, a walk through Roberts Bird Sanctuary by Linden Hills resident Diane Erdmann was transformed by her seeing the letter G in a stand of grape vines. After slowing down to look for other letters in nature within the Sanctuary, she realized that " eyes were opened to details around me that I would have missed had I continued with my originally planned brisk walk." Fortunately for others, Diane had brought her camera on this walk, and the result is her book, Thomas Sadler Roberts Bird Sanctuary ABCs, filled with gorgeous photos and wise words describing each letter in poetic detail. Friends of Roberts hopes to help make Diane's wonderful book available to a wide audience, especially the many people of all ages who love the Sanctuary. Stay tuned!
Update on Efforts to Prevent Bird Collisions
at U.S. Bank Stadium

“With the number of retrofitting options available to the MSFA and the Vikings, there is no excuse not to protect migratory birds from preventable injury and death at U.S. Bank Stadium.”  ~ Jerry Bahls, ACM President
At the February 24, 2017, Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) board meeting, Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis (ACM), Minnesota Citizens for the Protection of Migratory Birds, and Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary released a study of bird mortality at U.S. Bank Stadium during the fall 2016 migration season. The report recommends specific immediate actions to reduce bird collisions at the stadium and outlines suggestions for the collision study that National Audubon Society will conduct at the stadium in spring 2017.
According to ACM President Jerry Bahls, “The limited monitoring we conducted last fall found 60 birds killed in collisions with the stadium glass walls, including a variety of warblers, hummingbirds, juncos, wrens, nuthatches, sparrows and even a snow bunting. Although this number underestimates the total number killed, this level of mortality establishes the U.S. Bank Stadium as the top bird-killing building in the Twin Cities.”
The stadium has been a building of concern to environmentalists and ornithologists since 2012, when the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urged the MSFA to consider bird-friendly design to reduce bird collisions. According to scientists, as many as 988 million birds are killed annually in the United States by collisions with buildings, especially glass windows. The new Vikings stadium contains nearly 200,000 square feet of glass. The study recommends a variety of bird-safe treatments that can be applied to the stadium glass, such as etching the glass or applying window film.

The report, Bird Mortality at U.S. Bank Stadium During Fall Migration 2016, is available from the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis.

Contact Ann Laughlin at for information about the Bird Mortality Report.

We are always in need of volunteers, whether you're young or old we need all sorts of different people with different abilities. Please visit our website to fill out the volunteer form and let us know what your interests are. Have questions or concerns? Just email us. 

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Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary · P.O. Box 3801 · Minneapolis, MN 55403 · USA

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