Each year, many people flock (pun intended) to the North Shore in hopes of spotting some of Minnesota’s rarest birds. Lake Superior’s size and weather patterns result in birds preferring to follow the shore of Lake Superior south (or north – depending on the time of year) over flying over the large body of water. The shore becomes a funnel for migrating birds during the spring and fall migratory season. Saught after birds include various raptors, ravens, shorebirds, gulls, warblers, ducks and grouse. Many of these and other rare birds can be found in forested areas, along lake shores (both Lake Superior and nearby inland lakes), near sewage ponds and next to rocky cliffs.
Below are six North Shore birding hot-spots worth checking out:
Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve: The reserve, which became the state’s first Audubon Important Bird Area in 1994, is considered one of the premiere migration sites in the country. It because the first Audubon Important Bird area. Birds that fly through the area tend concentrate on the bluffs in Duluth. Get a great view of the bluffs from Hawk Ridge. The best days to go are days with a northwest wind, when hundreds or even thousands of birds can be spotted flying through the area.
Split Rock Lighthouse state park: this park is an Audubon Important Bird area because of the presence of Peregrine Falcon aeries (nests). This powerful and fast-flying bird was almost eradicated by pesticide poisoning in the last century. Fortunately, the bird made a remarkable rebound and can be found in many places around the country, including the North Shore.
Palisade Head: This area is also an Audubon Important Bird Area because of the presence of Peregrine Falcons. Watch for the bird along the Palisade Head cliffs.
Tettegouche State Park: 143 species of birds have been recorded at Tettegouche. The park has a high population of black-throated blue warblers.
Gunflint Trail: the forest surrounding the Gunflint Trail is some of the best coniferous bird in Minnesota. Watch for Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadees, Yellow-bellied and Olive sided flycatchers, warblers, Boreal Owns and a variety of woodpeckers.
Superior National Forest: Considered one of 100 Globally Important Bird areas by the American Bird Conservancy, The Forest has 155 nesting bird species, the most birds of any national forest in the United States.
Did you know?
Birding checklists are available for each of Minnesota’s eight North Shore state parks. Find the checklists at the links below.
Gooseberry Falls State Park
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
Tettegouche State Park
George H Crosby Manitou State Park
Temperance River State Park
Cascade River State Park
Judge C R Magney State Park
Grand Portage State Park