Bob Janssen needed three birds in Rock County to accomplish his lofty goal: seeing 225 different species in each of Minnesota’s counties. Before the trip, he noted they would probably see a couple of the birds on his target list.
“But we’ll also turn up something that we never expected,” he said.
It was quite prescient.
With the help of more than a dozen friends, Janssen spotted — in order — wild turkeys, a Brewer’s blackbird and a surprise American avocet in Rock County last weekend. That pushed his total there to 225 and made him the first person ever to reach that mark in all 87 counties.
“That was a neat bird to get for 225,” Janssen said of the avocet, a longlegged shorebird uncommon to the area.
It happened around 10 a.m. April 13, a few miles west of Ash Creek. The avocet was in a flooded field. When Janssen got eyes on it, he heard a big cheer. Then “everybody hugged, kissed and raised their arms and yelled and acted like a bunch of crazy people,” he said.
John Hockema, a friend who helped organize the trip, called it an “amazingly wonderful weekend.”
But will 225 be enough?
“I’m a compulsive lister and I’m a compulsive birder. I’ll never quit,” said Janssen, of Golden Valley. “I’ll try to keep adding stuff and chasing new birds as I can.”