Birding on bike trails


Diana Doyle doesn't log high-speed miles on her bicycle.  Biking with Julian Sellers would also disappointment to serious speedsters.

            If you bike with these members of Audubon Society, crank your seat down to allow for many stops, bring your binoculars and don't talk too much because they will be listening to bird songs.

            Birding along bike trails and through parks has become their preferred method of birding transportation as we discovered along the trails and roads at Fort Snelling State Park.

            Driving a car to birding spots uses too much fuel, pollutes the atmosphere and separates you from the sights and sounds of birding.

Walking is too slow. Biking provides the right pace for listening for bird songs.

            Doyle felt guilty every time she took the family SUV chasing off to add a rare bird to her bird list.

            Her guilt motivated her to do a Big Green Birding Year list where participants build a bird list from non-motorized birding. By the end of the year she counted 210 species adding the long-eared owl seen at Roberts Bird Sanctuary to her life list.

               Doyle believes her BGBY made her a better birder.

            Sellers believes bike trails offer good birding opportunities.

            "Many of the long bike trails across Minnesota are off the beaten path and offer a variety of habitat," says Sellers. "You can see and hear birds as you go along, you're right out there in the air and so close to vegetation and the birds."

            Sellers tells of an Audubon biking trip on the Sakatah Singing Hills Trail in southern Minnesota where a rare and beautiful swallow-tailed kite far from its Florida habitat did an aerial display. He also likes the safety of biking in small groups on the wide bike trails.

Birding on a bike makes it easier to carry more gear, lunch and extra clothing. Doyle and Sellers don't recommend carrying a scope or tripod on a bike rack because of jarring and dust. They suggest carrying unlikely extras such as gloves, fleece and a windbreaker.

            A binocular harness is essential for birding on a bike. Doyle wears her backpack over her harness straps. Her pack has several pockets for her to reach for bug spray or her iPhone to photograph a unique plant or insect to identify later.

Good Results: After two and a half hours of birding on bikes at Fort Snelling State Park, the small group identified 55 varieties of birds.

   Getting started: If you want to get started birding on bikes most state parks loan out free birding kits of binoculars, birding book and a list of birds common to the park.

            They will even point you in the right direction to find birds in the park.


United States
44° 51' 51.6816" N, 93° 11' 23.9388" W


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