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:

  • 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

Links for Birding with Kids

Local Birding Articles

  • Loon Center in Crosslake  — Read more
    Read 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

Blackbird migration

The winter season can offer some very good birding opportunities especially in areas like Aitkin County and the famous Sax-Zim Bog.  Many of the "Boreal" species of birds often spend the winters here giving birders and photographers a unique experience.  These areas might offer the best chance to see rare Owls and Woodpeckers and some of the winter finches than anywhere else in the United States.  Some of the birds that my guiding tours look for include Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Snowy Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, Evening and Pine Grosbeak, Northern Goshawk, Red-Crossbill and a few others.

Contact me to see our winter rarities -- Judd Brink (218) 838-4784 or

Last Report of the fall season:
Sept 30, 2018 — The bird migration is just past its peak but there are still a good number of birds to be seen.  Recent bird sightings: Common Loon, Canada Goose, Mallard, Great Egret, Phoebe, Bluebird, Turkey, Woodduck, Sandhill Crane, White-throated Sparrows, Juncos, Towhee, Brown Thrasher, Raven, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Cedar Waxwing, Great-blue Heron, House Finch, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Flicker, Sapsucker, Pileated Woodpecker, Belted Kingfisher, Trumpeter Swan and Song Sparrow.  Happy Birding!

Judd Brink, bird guide/naturalist/owner, MN Backyard Birds &

White Throated Sparrow




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