Dave Palmquist

Better Birding: Learn from the Experts


Eric Nelson
Eric Nelson

The Winona Bird Club presents Better Birding: Learn from the Experts on Wednesday, April 4, at 7:00 p.m. at the Senior Friendship Center, 251 Main Street. The program is free and open to the public.

Robins and blackbirds are back, so the great springtime migration is underway! Are you someone who enjoys watching birds but might like some better skills for finding and identifying them? Dave Palmquist, longtime naturalist at Whitewater State Park, and Eric Nelson, retired biologist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will provide a wealth of tips and advice for increasing your birding enjoyment.

Whether you’re a newcomer or an experienced birder, this will be a great chance to learn more about identifying birds by sight, sound, and habitat. Palmquist and Nelson will also discuss choosing and using equipment and other birding resources, as well as local hot spots for seeing the diverse species that inhabit or pass through the driftless area.

Those attending are also invited to practice their new skills on a follow-up spring bird walk at the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, April 7, from 9 a.m. to noon, starting at the River Bottoms Access. Club president Richie Swanson and other WBC birders will provide spotting scopes and help identify early spring migrants — songbirds, sandhill cranes, diving ducks such as mergansers and goldeneye, and probably tundra swans.

Palmquist retired from the Department of Natural Resources as Whitewater State Park interpretive naturalist in 2012. In his 39-year career, he shared the natural and cultural resource stories of the park area with hundreds of thousands visitors, providing walks, talks, demonstrations, field trips, exhibits, brochures and a local radio show. Prior to working at the park, he worked part-time at the Bell Museum of Natural History, the Science Museum of Minnesota and Wood Lake Nature Center. In retirement, Dave and his wife Kathy volunteer at the park and for organizations in Winona. One of their greatest joys is visiting their 20-month old granddaughter in the Twin Cities. Her name is Winona.

Nelson retired in 2010 after 32 years as a wildlife biologist, the last 20 at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Starting in the 1970s at UW-Stevens Point, Nelson is a longtime birder with a deep appreciation of Aldo Leopold’s conservation ethic. He said, “I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of summers at the family cottage, promoting prairie, fighting invasive species, becoming part of the lake, and building family traditions. I have a passion for fishing and birding (I team-teach birding at WSU Senior University), as well as addressing vital societal issues.” Nelson just returned from a people-to-people trip to Cuba, with his partner Debi and a delegation of other learners.

The Winona Bird Club (FKA Hiawatha Valley Audubon Society) has been meeting regularly since 1961. Monthly programs from September through May offer current scientific information and engaging personal experiences related to conservation of birds, mammals, aquatic life, and other aspects of the natural environment. Programs are free and open to the public. Nominal annual membership fees enable the club to offer high quality monthly programs, field trips, Christmas bird count, and a youth environmental camp scholarship.


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