Minnesota River Valley Birding Trail
Spanning the Minnesota River watershed from its headwaters near the South Dakota border to its confluence with the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities, the MN River Valley Birding Trail promotes the beauty, wildlife, natural habitats, and recreational opportunities of this unique region. The trail serves to make birding more accessible, convenient and educational. www.birdingtrail.org
Prairie Waters Region The area from Montevideo to Ortonville and north into Big Stone County and south into Lac Qui Parle County is one of Minnesota's premier birding regions. This area has two state parks and one national wildlife refuge plus numerous wildlife management and waterfowl production areas covering hundreds of acres, all of them accessible to birders.
Prairie Couteau Region Grassy rolling hills, marshes, lakes and wetlands make Lyon and Lincoln Counties fascinating places to bird. Over 170 species of birds have been recorded in Camden State Park, located in the beautiful wooded Redwood River valley. This park is another island of green in a sea of intensely farmed land. Migrants and summer residents include many species of woodpecker, warbler, flycatcher, swallow, thrush and sparrow.
Cottonwood River Region Flandrau State Park near New Ulm is one of the gems in the Minnesota State Park system. With miles of winding trails, it is an all-season site for birding with 158 species of birds recorded within its boundaries. Turkey Vulture, Red-shouldered Hawk, Wild Turkey, Blue-winged and Cerulean Warbler and Orchard Oriole are recorded there on a regular basis.
Watonwan River Region Despite the fact that Watonwan, Brown and Cottonwood counties are located in one of the most intensely farmed regions in Minnesota, there are still numerous sites that offer excellent birding. Due to the foresight of the many Minnesotans interested in preserving natural areas, a number of wildlife management areas and county parks are scattered throughout this region. Lake Hanska County Park has wooded areas that attract both migrants and summer residents such as vireos, flycatchers and woodpeckers.
Blue Earth River Region Even though this region is located in an area of intense farming, it is an exciting area for birding. The region's most interesting site is Minnesota Lake, which sits on the Faribault-Blue Earth county line. This is an excellent lake for viewing migrating water birds and shorebirds and is one of only two places in southern Minnesota where American White Pelican nest.
Bend of the River Region This is a region filled with lakes, wetlands, marshes and small county parks, creating an excellent area for birding during migration and the summer breeding season. Visit as many of these sites as you can and you will be amazed by both the variety and number of birds you see. The region's most notable site is Minneopa State Park, whose 2,700 acres provide a range of habitats sheltering a wide variety of birds.
Kasota Region If you fly over the Minnesota River Valley from Jordan south through Belle Plaine and St. Peter to just north of Mankato, you would be struck by the wide variety of landscapes in this broad, expansive river valley. The valley is surrounded by some of the most intensely farmed country in Minnesota. The green corridor produced by this river valley and its value to bird and wildlife is obvious.
North Loop: www.birdingtrail.org/KasotaRegionNorth.html
South Loop: www.birdingtrail.org/KasotaRegionSouth.html
Mendota Region If you've ever gazed out a plane window while flying into the Twin Cities, you probably noticed shimmering lakes, vast marshes, and the Minnesota River, like a ribbon of blue, winding its way through wooded river bottoms. All belong to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, which extends for miles upriver as far as the Cities of Shakopee, Chaska and Jordan.
East Loop: www.birdingtrail.org/MendotaRegionEast.html
West Loop: www.birdingtrail.org/MendotaRegionWest.htm
Falls Region Bald Eagle can be seen any time there is open water on the Minnesota River. Turkey Vulture are also commonly seen. The area contains dense stands of Red Cedar and mixed deciduous trees, excellent habitat for migrating thrushes, warblers, vireos and flycatchers. Long-eared Owl use the cedars as winter and spring migration roost sites; these same cedars also provide winter food for Cedar Waxwing, winter finches and wintering American Robin, as well as offering shelter to Townsend's Solitaire, a species rarely sighted in Minnesota.
North Loop: www.birdingtrail.org/FallsRegionNorth.html
South Loop: www.birdingtrail.org/FallsRegionSouth.html
Kandiyohi Lakes Region For birders, Sibley State Park is one of the jewels in the Minnesota state park system and the first place in the State of Minnesota where nesting Yellow-throated Warbler were recorded. Red-shouldered Hawk also nest there along with over 100 other avian species. Two hundred and six species have been recorded in the park.
Pomme de Terre Region The five counties in this region - Pope, Stevens, Douglas, Grant and Otter Tail - are in the transition zone between woodlands and prairie. Places where ecological regions overlap are fertile areas for birds because of the variety of habitats. This region is studded with prairie and wooded lakes, many marshes, potholes, streams, and hilly grasslands.