Natural Settings

Birds depend on vegetation for nesting and feeding. Think vertical. Birds will use all layers of the plant community; ground, shrub and canopy as well as a mix of plant types. While touring the countryside, explore a variety of areas.

A variety of colorful waterbirds can be seen, particularly during spring and fall migration in the lakes and ponds of this glacial landscape. The Great Blue Heron stalks in the shallows, while the Common Loon, Ring-necked Duck and Wood Duck patrol on the lake. Bald Eagles, Osprey and Black Terns soar overhead, scanning the water for a fish meal.

Cradled in the rolling sand hills of the northwest, numerous rivers and streams wind their way to the Mississippi River or the Red River, offering a variety of shoreline habitat to the Belted Kingfisher, Bank Swallows, Spotted Sandpiper and Eastern Phoebe.

Greater Prairie Chicken

Dominated by aquatic plants, or sedge grasses, American Bitterns and the Sora Rail take cover here. Red-winged Blackbirds and Sedge Wrens construct nests amongst the cattails and sedge. The Northern Harrier flies overhead as Pied-billed Grebes scoot on the water’s surface. Listen for the winnowing wing call of the Common Snipe.

Rippling areas of grass dotted with trees connect the hardwood and prairie, home for the Meadowlark, Eastern Bluebird and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Overhead soar the American Kestrel and Red-tailed Hawk. Ruffed Grouse and the Northern Flicker frequent the forest edge.

American Goldfinch, Yellow Warbler, Indigo Bunting and Rufous-sided Towhee add splashes of color to the interwoven branches of hazel, dogwood, alder, or young aspen or pine saplings. Gray Catbirds, Brown Thrashers and Song Sparrows are often heard before thay are seen.

Gray Jay

DECIDUOUS FOREST (maple-basswood, oak-elm, aspen-birch):
A kaleidoscope of light and shadow, the dense summer foliage, where even the colorful Scarlet Tanager and Rose-breasted Grosbeak can disappear, limits quick bird sightings to large species, like the Pileated Woodpecker or Broad-winged Hawk. The Least Flycatcher, American Redstart, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and Red-eyed Vireo, feed on insects among the leaves.

CONIFER FOREST (pine, spruce, fir):
The Golden-crowned Kinglet, Blackburnian Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Hermit Thrush and Barred Owl, find food and nesting sites amongst the branches the conifer forest. Brown Creepers, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Black-backed Woodpeckers can be seen probing under bark. White-winged Crossbills feed on the seeds of the conifers.

The tamarack and black spruce conifers offer the Northern Waterthrush, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Nashville and Northern Parula Warbler, and Gray Jay shelter. The distinct calls of the White-throated Sparrow and the Winter Wren ring out from the bog.

Great Blue Heron