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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Birding on the North Shore

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Bird Photo_Feature

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 

Posted in Events, Fall Events, Fun for Kids, Outdoor Activities, Spring Events, Stories and Pictures, Travel, Uncategorized, Views and Scenery, Wildlife |

Top Five Things To Do at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015



Split Rock Lighthouse State Park occupies the land surrounding the Split Rock Lighthouse, one of the most visited lighthouses in the country. The park is located outside of Two Harbors (2755 Split Rock Lighthouse Road) on the shore of Lake Superior.

The parks location offers visitors many beautiful views of The Lake and countless opportunities for hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing and, in winter, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Of all of these things, five should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list.

1. Tour the lighthouse
The Lighthouse was built after many ships were lost in a fierce storm in November of 1905 and operated from 1910 until 1969. The lighthouse is open seasonally for tours and gives visitors the opportunity to view the lighthouse interior, lighthouse keeper’s home and other outbuildings on the site.

2. Visit the Pebble Beach
Pack a bag with a light lunch or just head down to the beach to skip some rocks. The beach provides excellent views of the lighthouse and is a great place to dip your toes in the water.

3. Bike the Gitchi-Gami State Trail
A 4-mile section of the paved Gitchi-Gami State Trail lies within the park. From the trail you’ll find a great view of the Middle Falls waterfall and will also catch a glimpse of the Upper and Lower Falls.

4. Hike the Split Rock River Loop Trail
With 12 miles of hiking trails within the park, there are many areas to explore. One noteworthy hike is the Split Rock River Loop Trail. What makes this trail noteworthy are its unique red rhyolite rock towers near the boundary of the park and the beautiful overlook of Lake Superior and the river valley on the east side of the trail.

5. Grab Some Binoculars and go Birding
This is an excellent place for birding, especially in the spring and fall months when many birds migrate along the shore of Lake Superior on what is known as the North Shore Birding Trail.  Split Rock State Park has been designated an Audubon Important Bird Area because of the presence of Peregrine Falcom aeries (nests). When you’re at the park, be sure to bring along a copy of the Split Rock State Park Bird Checklist in hopes that you can check off the Peregrine Falcon and many other birds.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park Resources:
Park Map
Birding Checklist


View other Top 5 lists:

Gooseberry Falls State Park
Tetegouche 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


Posted in Fall Events, Outdoor Activities, Spring Events, Stories and Pictures, Summer Events, Travel, Views and Scenery, Wildlife, Winter Events |