The Whitefish Chain of Lakes Region in Minnesota's Brainerd Lakes Area at the heart of one of the world’s major flyways for migrating birds. With a four-season weather pattern and diverse blend of prairie, evergreens and deciduous forests wrapped in and around a variety of lakes, streams and even the mighty Mississippi River, birding in the Whitefish Area is unlike any other area in the world.

It’s not unusual for a keen-eyed birder to log more than 100 different species in an eight-hour day. The luckiest may spot a Northern Goshawk or an American Woodcock, found in woodland openings. Seeing either of these species, let alone both, is an experience of a lifetime. For some of the most common birds found in Minnesota, visit the MN DNR's Birding page.

BywayBirdsCover[1]Plus, convenient lodging offers a vacation destination full of abundance of wildlife and other nature-oriented experiences.

The Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association developed a Birds of the Byway brochure and tour guide checklist to help travelers appreciate, explore and enjoy birding. Download a copy of the checklist. Or contact us request the full color Birds of the Byway brochure, which includes the Tour Guide Checklist. Your lodging host can also set up a birding tour with the Whitefish Chain Region's local expert, Judd Brink of BirdMinnesota.

If you're new to birding, here are a few birding tips:

  1. Note the color of the bird — many guidebooks are organized by bird color
  2. Note the size of the bird
  3. Note the size, shape and color of the bird's bill
  4. Be aware of the bird's surroundings (Is it a marsh, high in a tree or a long the forest floor?)
  5. What is the bird eating?
  6. Flight — does the bird soar, glide, hover, dive or have an undulating flight?

You may also use the bird's posture (how does the bird perch?) and it's flight as indentifiers, but birds are usually easiest to identify when they are at rest. It takes practice to make these observations, but being aware of these bird traits will speed up your birding skills. A great book to use on your birding adventure is Birds of Minnesota Field Guide by Stan Tekiela (Adventure Publications, Cambridge, MN).

Birding Links for even more information

Links for Birding with Kids

Local Birding Articles

  • BluebirdsRead more
  • Minnesota MartinsRead more
  • The Common Loon Read more
  • Attract Birds to Your Backyard Read more
  • Birds of a Feather And the Byway — New online guide to the birds along the national driving route. Read more
  • Christmas Bird Count: Counting inaugural event a success — Area birders flock to establish the first bird count on a Scenic Byway.  Read more
  • Birding Along the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway — Birding is the second largest recreational activitiy in the US. Read more
  • Attracting Orioles — Attracting Orioles to your back yard can be done with oranges and jelly. Read more
  • Owl Prowl — Owls have been a part of culture and mythology for a long time. Read more
  • Spring Migration in Minnesota — Spring in Minnesota can be very unpredictable weather-wise, but it’s always a hotbed for migrating birds. Read more

Previous Birding Reports

Weekly Birding Report

Bald Eagles

Jan. 13, 2017 — The 6th Annual Uppgaard WMA Christmas Bird Count was held on December 31, 2016.  The count circle has a 15 mile radius centered at Ideal Corners and covers much of the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway.  Other areas included Breezy Point, Crosslake and Pequot Lakes.  The Uppgaard Wildlife Management Area (WMA) which the count is named after has always been an area of interest but due to recent logging it wasn’t surveyed.

Count results and summary
The Uppgaard CBC had a total of 9 participants and 2 feeder watchers who counted from home. Had a new participant who drove all the way from Bemidji to help this year.  The weather conditions were colder than last year with a starting temperature of only 8 degrees and clear skies with light winds.  This year’s count added 2 new species White-winged Crossbill (8) and Wooduck (1). One of the new birds added last year was Red Crossbill both species are uncommon for our area.  This year total species was 28 compared to 34 last year but the open water contributed to that total.  The total number of birds was still impressive at 813 despite the weather and having a few less participants. I think this year’s count had a good variety of birds with White-winged Crossbill being a nice surprise. A new high count for Hairy Woodpecker and Pileated Woodpecker was also recorded during this year’s count.

American Crow-(54), American Goldfinch-(20), Bald Eagle-(5), Barred Owl-(1), (CW) Black-capped Chickadee-(357), Blue Jay-(32), Common Merganser-(1), Common Raven-(19), Dark-eyed Junco-(3), Downy Woodpecker-(33), Hairy Woodpecker-(30), Hooded Merganser-(2), House Sparrow-(33), Mallard-(12), Northern Cardinal-(4), Northern Shrike-(1), Pileated Woodpecker-(20), Red-bellied Woodpecker-(13), Red-breasted Nuthatch-(24), Red Crossbill-(25), Red-tailed Hawk-(2), Rock Dove-(4), Ruffed Grouse-(4), Trumpeter Swan-(22), White-breasted Nuthatch-(58),*White-winged Crossbill-(8), Wild Turkey-(26), and *Woodduck-(1).

*= new species

Thanks to all the participants who helped count birds for fun and for science during the bird count.  Please visit to find the complete results from across the country and to find out how to participate.  Happy Birding!   — Judd Brink, bird guide/owner, MN Backyard Birds &

2016 CBC crew


Local Birder featured on Minnesota Bound
TV show Minnesota Bound, with outdoor TV host Ron Schara, recently featured Judd Brink, owner of MN Backyard Birds and our birding reports author. Watch video


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