Birding Update

Credit to Explore Minnesota for this Birding Update.

Trumpeter swans with cygnets / Travis Novitsky

July Nature Notes

This is a special time of year when abundant warm and sunny days are enhanced by the sights and sounds of birds with their fledglings. Birders and non-birders alike are delighted by the sight of common loon parents with chicks on their backs. While loon chicks can swim just after hatching, they usually ride on their parents’ backs where they are most safe. Listen for the distinctive calls echoing across large Minnesota lakes. Haunting wails are used to communicate and relay location, and the laughter-like tremolos are used as an alarm call and to defend territory. Hear these and other calls at All About Birds’ Common Loon Sounds.


Common loon with chick / Don Dammert

Minnesota lakes, rivers and wetlands offer the sights and sounds of many waterbird species and their young. Look and listen for ducksgrebesswansgeesemergansersherons and egrets. Also enjoy the interesting antics of the American white pelican. These graceful fliers work together to corral fish into the shallows of southern and western Minnesota’s prairie pothole lakes. Some of the better locations to view pelicans are within the Western Minnesota Prairie Waters region such as the spillway on Marsh Lake near Appleton, the dam near Watson and the Minnesota River dam in Granite Falls.


Great blue heron / Liz Stanley

If you find yourself near a floodplain forest (low-lying areas at the bottom of river valleys), look upward and scan the tree canopies for rookeries where great blue herons, great egrets and double-crested cormorants nest. The Friends of the Mississippi River explain more about rookeries and great blue herons at Now Showing at a Rookery Near You.


Little blue heron / David Cahlander

Consider renting a row boat, canoe or kayak to get close-up views of shorebirds, waterfowl and wading birds. This is an excellent way to introduce a child to birding. Explore Minnesota offers a list of businesses and sites that offer boat rental. For watercraft rental at Minnesota’s state and regional parks, check out Minnesota’s Great Outdoors.


Green heron / Al Ferber

Did You Know?

Each summer, following nesting season, most waterfowl lose and replace their feathers. During this molting process, ducks, geese and other waterfowl species are unable to fly. They are also much more vulnerable. But towards the end of July, these birds will be able to fly once again. This is also when their young will be attempting to fly for the first time.


Great egret / Stanley Adrian

While the fall migration seems a long way off, a few shorebird species are already heading to wintering grounds in Central and South America. Some of the earliest species to migrate include lesser yellowlegs, short-billed dowitchers, least sandpipers, solitary sandpipers and pectoral sandpipers. Many of these birds have completed their short nesting period and their young are now self-sufficient. A second migration occurs in September when the young begin their journeys south. To view these early migrants, check the shallow wetlands and mudflats.


Roosting egrets / Liz Stanley

According to The Birding Wire’s Water Attracts All Birds, the best way to draw a variety of birds to your backyard is to provide a reliable source of water. Not only do birds need a consistent source of water to drink from, they need water to maintain healthy feathers. Partially filled bird baths offer a supply of shallow water so all birds, including smaller bird species such as finches and warblers, can drink and bathe. Try to place your birdbath in a shady area near trees and/or shrubs to keep the water cooler on hot summer days and to provide the birds an easy escape if threatened.


American white pelican / John Morrison

Birding Events and Programs

July 6, 13, 20 & 27, Ely
Birding at Bear Head 
Enjoy a guided walk to listen and look for the variety of bird species. A limited number of binoculars will be available for free checkout — please bring your own if possible. Insect repellent is recommended. Bear Head Lake State Park. 218-235-2520


Swans in a row / Wayne Bartz

July 10-24, Minneapolis
Bird Watching: Summertime Songbirds
Get up with the birds during this Wednesday morning series to discover what to look for when identifying birds in the field. Learn about bird songs, calls and other behaviors while strolling through prairie, woodland and along the river with a naturalist and keeping eyes and ears open for our feathered friends. Binoculars available. Coffee, tea and treats provided. Kroening Interpretive Center, part of North Mississippi Regional Park, at 4900 Mississippi Court. 612-230-6400


Canada geese and goslings / David Cahlander

July 13, Altura
Live Eagle Program
Want to see a live bald eagle up close? Staff from the National Eagle Center in Wabasha will be at Whitewater to share the tremendous comeback story of our national bird. They will introduce the bald eagle’s life history and why the Mississippi River and the blufflands are so important to the eagle’s survival. Whitewater State Park. 507-312-2300


Western grebe / Dan Tallman

July 13, Marine on St. Croix
Bird Nest Mystery
Head to the nature station for a chance to see and hear some of the incredible feathered creatures that live at William O’Brien State Park. A naturalist will take you on a journey into the secret lives of these mysterious animals. Binoculars provided. William O’Brien State Park. 651-539-4986


Female hooded merganser / Danielle Porter Born Photography

July 18, Minneapolis
Nightime Nature Fun
Join park ranger Sharon Stiteler and entomologist Jessica Miller as they use black lights and sheets to see what moths and insects visit Coldwater Spring at night. Also look and listen for other night active critters like deer, owls, raccoons or even coyotes. Take the trail from the main entrance at Coldwater toward the dog park. Head toward the big lights. Coldwater Spring, part of the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area. 651-291-8164


Male hooded merganser / Danielle Porter Born Photography

July 20, Meadowlands
Bog BioBlitz: Bog to Ridge BioBlitz VII
Friends of Sax-Zim Bog have made this a populra annual summer event. In 2018, more than 40 folks went in the field to learn about birds, orchids, butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, moths, wildflowers, fish and bog ecology. Over 400 species were recorded on that single day in July! Sax-Zim Bog. 218-341-3350


Cormorants at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge / Cristine Nicholson

July 20, Taylors Falls
Guess That Bird: Investigation Station
Minnesota is filled with a variety of birds of all colors, shapes and sizes. How well do you think you know them? Can you guess based on their looks or their songs? Some of them even sing their own name. Drop by the investigation station near the visitor center and test your skills with a naturalist. Interstate State Park. 651-465-5711


Lesser yellowlegs / David Cahlander

July 20, Roseville
Birds and Trees
Join the staff at Langton Lake Park for a stroll to observe and identify birds and trees, and consider their interactions. Meet at the parking lot on County Road C2 at the west side of the lake. Langton Lake Park. 651-636-6475

Least sandpiper / Larry Sirvio

July 23, Bloomington
Bass Ponds Bird Walk 
Attend a bird walk with Craig Mandel, Volunteer Refuge Naturalist, and search the Bass Ponds area for birds that call the Refuge home for the summer. Birders of all skill levels are welcome on these walks. Bring along your binoculars and favorite field guide. Preregistration is not required. For a map of the location and information on the numerous sites within the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge to view birds, check out Birding Spots. Bass Ponds at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. 952-240-7647


Solitary sandpiper / Bruce Lees

July 27, Taylors Falls
Who Soars Here?: Investigation Station
Look up above the river and you’ll see a variety of birds soaring in search of food. Who are these birds. Drop by this ongoing investigation station to find out. Interstate State Park. 651-465-5711


Pectoral sandpiper / Larry Sirvio

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