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.
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:
- Note the color of the bird — many guidebooks are organized by bird color
- Note the size of the bird
- Note the size, shape and color of the bird's bill
- Be aware of the bird's surroundings (Is it a marsh, high in a tree or a long the forest floor?)
- What is the bird eating?
- 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
- Loon Tracking (via MN DNR)
- Live Eagle Cam (Decorah, IA)
- Minnesota Ornithologists
- Cass County Birding Hot Spots (Hackensack/Deep Portage, MN)
- Hawk Ridge (Duluth, MN)
- NatureScape News
- Raptors (U of M)
Links for Birding with Kids
Local Birding Articles
- Bluebirds — Read more
- Minnesota Martins — Read 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
May 19, 2017 — Bird sightings for the week include: Bald Eagle, Broad-winged Hawk, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Turkey Vulture, American Kestrel, Sandhill Crane, Trumpeter Swan, Mallard, Woodduck, Ring-neck Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, Belted Kingfisher, Killdeer, double-crested Cormorant, Great-blue Heron, Tree Swallow, Purple Martin, Eastern Bluebird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Redstart, Golden-winged Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Loon, Common Grackle, Fox Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Common Raven, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, and Song Sparrow.
New birds arriving this past week include: Lark Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Common Yellowthroat, Great-crested Flycatcher, Cliff Swallow, Common Nighthawk, Red-headed Woodpecker, Black Tern, Yellow-throated Vireo, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Tern and Black-belled Plover.
Thursday’s weekly bird walk at the Arboretum found 31 species — even with the cool weather. The most exciting find was a Golden-winged Warbler! Minnesota has 40% of the global population of Golden-wings! The next Audubon bird walk will be on Saturday starting at 8 am Northland Arboretum in Brainerd.
On Sunday (May 21) visit the Northland Arboretum to look for birds during the "Big Bird Day" to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. Meet at 8 am to be divided into teams to go bird watching. A potluck lunch will follow at noon. This is a fun event to learn about birds with friends or family while also enjoying great food.
— Judd Brink, bird guide/owner, MN Backyard Birds & BirdMinnesota.com
Broad winged Hawk
Try out a Birding Hike
Join the Brainerd Lakes Area Audubon Society on Thursdays and Sundays mornings until early June for a free and informative birding hike at the Northland Arboretum in Brainerd. (download the flyer)
FREE Birding Kits