Standard Operating Procedure for Managing our Certified Audubon Cooperative
This manual has been developed to serve as a guide to help us manage The Minikahda
Club property, which is a member of Audubon International and is qualified as a
Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. This manual is intended to be a guide toward
managing the property on a consistent basis, year after year.
There are many aspects required for managing this program as well as a great deal of
information that we can use for promoting its use as well information that can be used for
the management of the environment associated with The Minikahda Club.
Management Practices for the following items:
1. Management of Natural Areas
a. Fescue no-mow zones
b. Wetland grass corridors
c. Fairway bunker faces
2. Nesting Boxes
a. Bluebird houses
b. Wood duck houses
c. Mallard platforms
3. Bird Feeder Management
4. Annual Bird Watch
5. Water Management
b. Irrigation watering practices
7. Fertility Management Practices
a. Organic fertilizers
c. Application methods
8. Recycling and Building Management
a. Equipment wash station
b. Pesticide building
c. Biolet toilets
e. Energy Saving Products
9. Outreach and Education
Management of Natural Areas
We currently have eleven natural areas, also known as No-mow areas that have been
developed on the golf course. These are areas that have been identified as “not in play”
for the average golfer and are in various areas throughout the golf course. Some of the
No-mow areas are in locations where the turf was allowed to grow from the existing turf
varieties and in other areas we replanted the location with a fescue turf seed mix called
In all of the locations the natural areas are designed to be outlined within a circle of
irrigation heads. The irrigation heads are located on the perimeter of the natural areas
and the irrigation heads are designed to only have the ability to irrigate away from the
natural areas due to the part-circle heads that each head contains. The use of the part-
circle heads allows us to reduce the total amount of water that is being applied to the golf
course. The reduction in water to the no-mow areas also creates a great natural
environment for the fescue to survive.
No-mow areas are managed with what the term implies, no mowing. Typically, each fall
season these areas will be cut down to allow for new generation in the spring. This
practice also aids with weed management. Herbicides are applied on an as need basis and
applications are typically only used on a spot treatment basis.
Not only are these natural areas aesthetically pleasing to have co-exist on the golf course
but they are excellent areas for wildlife to survive in. The No-mow areas provide
exceptional habitat for various rodents which in turn prove to be great hunting grounds
for many raptor type bird species. We also use these areas to mount Eastern Bluebird
next boxes, as there are large numbers of ground insects for the birds to feast upon and
prove to an attractive location for the birds to nest.
Locations Square Footage
1. Left of #4 green 32,800 sq.ft.
2. Right #5 tee 30,600 sq.ft.
3. Right #8 Tee 6,350 sq.ft.
4. Right #10 Tee 31,200 sq.ft.
5. Behind #11 Green 24,100 sq.ft
6. Behind #13/14 Green/tee 57,650 sq.ft.
7. Left Rough #15 Fence line 4,500 sq.ft.
8. Behind #15 Green 21,000 sq.ft
9. Left Rough #16 Fence line 10,000 sq.ft
10. Middle Rough 15, 16, and 17 49,400 sq.ft.
Total square footage/acreage 267,600 sq.ft. or 6.14 acres
Wetland Grass Corridors
Wetland grass corridors are maintained along the creek and pond banks along our 11th
pond and creek bank, 8th pond and creek and 9th pond and creek. We also maintain a
wetland grass buffer around about 1/3 of the 6th pond.
The banks and buffer areas consist of wetland grasses such as rushes, sedges, little
bluestem, big bluestem and other various wetland grasses. Weeds are managed through
the use of a spring-time controlled burn as well as spot treatment of herbicides as well as
hand pulling of weeds as needed.
The total buffered areas surrounding our wetland areas is approximately 1.33 acres.
We have a total of 52 approach and fairway bunkers. Of those bunkers we have 39
bunkers that are maintained with fescue grasses that are allowed to grow to their
maximum height. These bunkers are not fertilized and they are not irrigated through the
use of the automatic irrigation system. We have a total of 55 irrigation heads that are
part-circle heads stationed around the bunkers so the faces do not receive water from our
system. Our goal is to create an environment where fescue grasses can thrive and be
managed as the dominate grass species. Weeds will be spot treated with herbicides as
well as any Kentucky bluegrass that might creep into the area.
The bunker faces are cut down in the fall or during times when rainfall amounts are too
great and the fescue begins to become too thick for play. Otherwise the bunker faces are
meant to be left natural with little or no interference from our staff.
Bluebird Nest Boxes
We have a total 16 nesting boxes throughout the golf course. The nesting boxes are
placed in areas that are intended to promote the nesting of the Eastern blue to these
locations. We typically see bluebird activity as early as the first week of April and up
until the last week of October.
Nesting boxes need to be cleaned in the spring and fall, making sure that no other bird
species are using the houses. When found, sparrow nests need to be removed
The monitoring of the 16 bluebird boxes are checked on a weekly basis until the nestlings
are two weeks old. The date, #eggs, #fledged and any additional notes recorded. See the
bluebird section of the Audubon binder.
Predators and Problems on the bluebird trail:
AT = Ants GN = Gnats/black flies HW = House wrens
RC = Raccoon ST = Starling BF = Blowflies
HP = Hypothermia MI = Deer Mice RS = Red Squirrel
TS = Tree Swallow CT = Cats HS = House Sparrow
PC = Pesticide SN = Snake bb = bluebird
Clue: Little sticks in box, often up to top, maybe over bb nest: HW male
Clue: Feathers (usually white), on top of bb nest: TS
Clue: Debris, paper, plant material along with grass nest, often circled high over hole:HS
Clue: Shreds of bark, leaves, etc. filling box: RS
Clue: Shreds of milkweed, seed and coneflower seed heads: MI
Clue: Coarse grass mixed with green weeds. Eggs robin-sized, but lighter blue: ST
Note: Nests with moss and fur-lined (chickadee); large grass with bits of shed snakeskin
(crested flycatcher = hole enlarged); sheds of inner bark, fur, feathers, hair (nuthatch); all
should be welcome if there are enough boxes.
Clue: bb eggs suddenly disappear, nest undisturbed: HS, HW, SN, RC
Clue: bb eggs disappear, nest partially pulled out of hole: RC, CT
Clue: bb eggs shattered or ground or in nest: HW, HS, RS, and Chipmunk
Clue: tiny holes pecked in eggs: HW
Clue: Nestlings gone, nest intact, parents still around: CT, SN, HS, and HW
Clue: Nestlings gone, nest partially pulled through hole. Grass below may be trampled,
feathers around: CT, RC
Clue: Nestlings suddenly dead in box, bodies unmarked, stomachs full, parents still
Clue: Nestlings dead outside box, sometimes 1/day: HS
Clue: Young nestlings dead in wet nest: HP
Clue: Nestlings dead in nest, emaciated: Both parents dead.
Clue: Nestlings mutilated in nest: HS, possibly MI, RC
Clue: Female dead in box, head feathers and or eyes pecked out: HS
Clue: Nestlings dead in nest, large red welts on bodies, black pupae or gray maggots
under nest: BF
AT = Ants. Slip a paste or liquid ant poison under nest. Or staple a Q-tip soaked in
liquid ant poison under nest and bottom of house. Spray around box with pyrethrin.
BF = Blowflies. If small cigar-shaped pupae or gray maggots are found near bottom of
nest, lift nest with young and shake out as many insects as possible. Brush off floor. If
highly infested, spray inside of box with pyrethrin. If nest is wet, replace with dry nest or
grass. Check bodies of nestlings.
CT = Cat. Usually feathers will be spread around. If cat is known and can’t be confined
during nesting period, trim from claws. (trimmed & declawed cats can still climb) Use
cat/coon guards on box, inverted cone below box, eliminate feral cats.
GN = Gnats or black flies. Use pyrethrin spray for heavy swarms and infestation.
Spray inside of box regularly until nestlings are 12-13 days old.
HP = Hypothermia. Check nest boxes after heavy, slanting rains. Replace wet nest
with new dry one or dry grass. Young nestlings may die if left in wet nest. Dampness
also attracts blowflies. Extended rain with cold endangers both tree swallows and
HS = House sparrow. Serious enemy of bluebirds. Will kill adult bluebirds and
nestlings. Must be eliminated. Let sparrows start to nest, then trap in box. Destroy nest
and eggs. Where feasible use baited ground trap. Sparrows are less apt to use Gilberston
PVC nest box than larger wooden one. Do not start blue birding unless prepared to
destroy house sparrows.
HW = House wren. Keep male’s sticks removed from box, before female wren builds
nest on top. (actual nest, eggs and birds are protected by law) Move bb boxes away from
brush and trees at least 200-300 feet if possible. Do not try to solve problem by putting
up wren boxes, which will only produce more wrens that eventually will go further into
open areas to take bluebirds boxes and destroy eggs and young.
MI = Deer Mice. Often nest over winter in closed boxes. Leave boxes open in winter if
posts are climbable. Remove mouse nest with gloves or sticks – do not touch with bare
hands and do not breathe in dust from box.
PC = Pesticide poisoning. Usually a problem only during second nesting. Try to
determine if poisons will be used nearby from a farmer, groundskeeper, gardener, lawn
care company; seal boxes to prevent use. Take freshly dead nestlings to nearest DNR
Nongame specialist for autopsy. Do not put boxes near lawn treated areas.
RC = Raccoon. Use separate smooth, narrow metal posts if possible, or smoothly –
wrapped tin on wood posts; cone guards on mounts; cat/coon guards on box.
RS = Red Squirrel. Keep nest boxes sealed in winter or leave open. Climb-proof posts
as above; keep away from trees and saplings from which squirrels can leap.
SN = Snake. Climb-proof separate posts or grease heavily.
ST = Starlings. Use starling trap. Eliminate. Be sure box entrance is minimum size for
bluebirds (1 & 1/2” round: 1 & 3/8” x 2 & ¼” oval.)
TS = Tree Swallow. Pair boxes 25-30’ with 300’ between pairs if swallows use more
than 50% of boxes.
Box locations and numbers are as follows:
1 & 2 – on the northeast side of the native are on #6 pond.
3 & 4 – on the east side of the “no mow” area & flower garden by #5 tees.
5 & 6 – in the “no mow” area between #11 green and #13 fairway.
7 & 8 – in the “no mow” area on the hill left of #13 approach.
9 & 10 – in the “no mow” area between # 9 and #10 fairways.
11 &12 – in the “no mow” area between #10 and #14 fairways next to the weather
13 & 14 – in the “no mow” area between #15, 16, & 17 on the east end.
15 & 16 – in the “no mow” area between #15, 16, & 17 on the west end.
Wood Duck Houses
We have a total of 11 Wood Duck houses throughout the golf course, with the majority of
the houses positioned in locations close to our waterways. Houses are cleaned in the fall
to remove any eggs that were dumped by the ducks. Houses are also cleaned in the
spring and woodchips are added, prior to the arrival of the wood ducks in the spring,
typically in late April/early May.
A total of three Mallard platforms are placed on the ponds #8 and #9. The 8th pond has
two platforms and #9 has the 3rd platform. These platforms are put out every spring and
are removed in the fall. Any maintenance required happens in the winter and fresh straw
placed in the baskets prior to being placed in the water.
Bird Feeder Management
Bird feeder management is an important management practice with our Audubon
Program. Each fall, beginning around the first of November and ending around the first
of April, we fill 5 bird feeding stations. These stations are intended to serve as either a
staple diet or as a supplemental diet for many bird species throughout the property.
The feeders are maintained and filled on a weekly basis. A birdseed mix from a local co-
op, called Cardinal Mix and Deluxe Mix are blended with a ratio of 1:1. Suet packs are
also added to three of the feeders for the birds to enjoy. Many squirrels are also able to
enjoy the benefits of the feeders.
Annual Bird Watch
Our annual bird watch is held in conjunction with International Migratory Bird Day.
This day is typically the second Saturday of May. Results are submitted to Audubon
International following the event. Log on to www.auduboninternational.org to submit the
Local bird watching expert Ann Kassen (651) 462-8487, leads our group onto the golf
course to par-take in the watch. The event begins at 7:00am and we are typically finished
by 9-9:30am. On a typical year we will identify 30-40 bird species. The best we were
able to obtain was a total of 55 species in the spring of 2004. This is an excellent event
for members as well as non-members to participate in.
OBSERVED BIRDS AT MINIKAHDA
(1992 to present)
Great Blue Heron Belted Kingfisher
Herring Gull Blue Jay
Ringed-neck Gull Golden-crowned Kinglet
Mallard Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Wood Duck Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Blue-Wing Teal House Wren
American Coot Brown Thrasher
Bufflehead Wood Thrush
Cinnamon Teal Cedar Waxwing
Lesser Scaup Tree Sparrow
Northern Pintail House Sparrow
Bluebill Chipping Sparrow
Ringed-neck Pheasant Song Sparrow
Horned Owl White-throated Sparrow
Screech Owl Balled Eagle
Red-winged Blackbird Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk Common Grackle
Common Nighthawk Common Crow
Rough-legged Hawk Common Tern
American Kestrel Scarlet Tananger
Great Egret Harrier
Mourning Dove Canada Goose
Green Heron Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Downy Woodpecker Rock Dove (pigeon)
Hairy Woodpecker Black-backed Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Indigo Bunting
Common Flicker Eastern Phoebe
Pleated Woodpecker Dark-eyed Junco
Red-headed Woodpecker Veery Thrush
White-breasted Nuthatch Solitary Vireo
Brown Creeper Brewers Blackbird
Palm Warbler Brown-headed Cowbird
Yellow-rumped Warbler European Starling
Cerulian Warbler Barn Swallow
Blackpoll Warbler House Finch
American Goldfinch Nashville Warbler
Purple Finch Black & White Warbler
Northern (Baltimore) Oriole Orange Crowned Warbler
American Robin Hermit Thrush
Cardinal Swainson Thrush
Rose-breasted Grosbeak American Widgeon
Gray Catbird Chimmney Swift
Black-capped Chickadee Ovenbird
The creek that intersects the golf course is fed from Bass Creek, located in St. Louis Park.
The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District holds jurisdiction over this waterway. This
creek for their purposes is considered a ditch. It was back in the early 90’s when the club
proceeded to build a series of three sediment ponds along the creek system. The need for
the ponds was due largely to the flooding that would occur on the golf course when large
amount of rainfall occurred.
Ponds were dug on the 11th hole, behind the 8th tee and next to the 9th tee. In 2003 a
fourth pond was dug at the beginning of the creek at the 13th hole. These ponds not only
serve as flood control but are the main collection area for sediment. Dredging of the
ponds is program that has been implemented in the past and is one that will be continued
on a 5 year basis.
Three out of the four ponds have a wetland grass buffer surrounding the perimeter.
Between the water and the buffered area this are has been able to attract a wide array of
bird and mammal species. Blue Heron, Egrets, Red-wing Blackbirds, Eastern Kingbird,
Blue-wing teal, Mallard, Wood duck, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Black-capped
Night Heron, Green Heron, American Bittern and Belted Kingfisher are just a fraction of
the bird species that we have identified around the ponds.
Mink, snapping turtles, painted turtles, White-tailed deer, raccoon, Red tailed Fox and
muskrat are also just a few examples of mammals and reptiles that visit and share the use
of our ponds and wetlands ecosystem.
There is a total of 51,000 sq.ft. of ponds and creek at 13, 11, 8, and 9 and 28,200 sq.ft. at
the 6th pond. Which is a total of 1.81 surface acres.
Irrigation Water Management
In 2002-03 The Minikahda Club installed a new irrigation system. Complete with new
piping, sprinkler heads and control system. A total of 1155 sprinkler heads were
installed. Of those heads 40%, or 464 heads, are Part-circle. Many of the part-circle
heads boarder the perimeter of the property, but many of these heads have also been
positioned around natural areas as well as a few that are located around our fairway
On a typically year we will pump anywhere from 19 million to 30 million gallons of
water. On average we will use less than 25 million gallons in a season.
Beginning in the spring of 2005 the club embarked on a plan to increase the amount of
plant material surrounding the perimeter of the golf course, in large part to screen the
outside traffic from the interior of the golf course. Since the implementation of this
program we have planted over 1000 trees, shrubs and vines along the perimeter of the
golf course. The beauty of this project is not only the fact the membership will be able to
enjoy a more private feel to the golf course, but once mature we will have also improved
the habitat environment for many species of wildlife.
Out of the 155 acres of property that The Minikahda Club consists of approximately
36.54 acres are wooded and are left virtually untouched and un-maintained.
OBSERVED NON-BIRD WILDLIFE AT MINIKHADA
(1992 - present)