B;;; ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; ;; ;;;;;;;;; by those in the know — is yet another reason to explore
Minnesota’s great outdoors. Many
birders head to the northwest part of
the state, which is home to more than
275 species thanks to the region’s diverse
terrain, from tallgrass prairies to pine
forests and sand dunes.
Winding through it all is the aptly
named Pine to Prairie Birding Trail,
which stretches more than 200 miles
between Fergus Falls on the southern
end and Warroad on the north, with 45
viewing sites along the way before it
crosses the border into Manitoba, Canada.
Beautiful trumpeter swans, majestic
bald eagles, the iconic common loon and
10 species of owls are among the area’s
winged residents. Birders can spot species
year-round, with some of the best viewing
during the spring and fall migrations.
Not sure where to begin? National
Wildlife Refuges along the trail are great
entry points, says Betsy Beneke, one of
the trail’s founders. Tamarac National
For the Birds
Bring your binoculars for spectacular sightings
on the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail. | ERICA WACKER
Seek out flora and fauna
in their natural habitat
at these parks and refuges.
BIG BOG STATE RECREATION AREA
A 500-square-mile peat bog—the largest
in the lower 48 states—and a mile-long
boardwalk make this recreation area
near Waskish a destination for nature
lovers. Mammals such as gray wolves,
bobcats and moose live here, along
with more than 300 species of birds,
including the great gray owl.
BUFFALO RIVER STATE PARK
This expansive grassland 14 miles east
of Moorhead is a haven for bobolinks,
upland sandpipers and other prairie
birds, as well as red foxes, badgers,
coyotes, prairie toads and jackrabbits.
Beavers and moose also take advantage
of the river and hardwood forest.
FELTON PRAIRIE COMPLEX
Encompassing a state-designated
scientific and natural area as well as the
federally protected Blazing Star Prairie,
this birding hot spot provides habitat
for about 40 species listed as
endangered, threatened or special
concern, including the rare Assiniboia
skipper and Dakota skipper bu;erflies.
GLACIAL RIDGE NATIONAL
The largest prairie and wetland
restoration project in the country is
underway at this refuge near Erskine,
home to a native tallgrass prairie,
endangered western prairie fringed
orchids, northern leopard frogs and
greater prairie chickens.
LAKE BRONSON STATE PARK
View the prairie and aspen-oak forest
and keep an eye out for deer, sharp-
tailed grouse and sandhill cranes from
the park’s observation tower.
Black bears and wild elk have also
been spo;ed here.