This northern Minnesota birding locations web page includes many of my favorite spots for watching and photographing birds. If you wish to visit any of these locations, please fill free to contact me. While I am not a professional birding guide, I love the Northland and welcome sharing my knowledge. (see “about me” for information about birding with me including my email address).
In addition to these web sites, make certain you investigate the Minnesota Birding News App, which has information on birding locations and sightings.
- Crex Meadows Wildlife Area: Although in Wisconsin and a bit south of Duluth, this wetlands area has some of the premier birding in the country during Spring and Fall migrations. Ever dreamed of seeing 20,000+ Sandhill Cranes flying in from feeding at sunset? If the answer to that question is yes, then a visit to Crex Meadows should be in your future.
- Forest Hill Cemetery Ponds: Located off Woodland Avenue in Duluth, this cemetery has two ponds which attract waterfowl and other birds. The resident domestic geese tend to attract other waterfowl to the ponds, particularly during the Spring and Fall migrations.
- Hartley Nature Center: Located off Woodland Avenue in Duluth, this nature center / park has an extensive trail system for hiking. Although there is a small lake in the park, it does not tend to attract very many waterfowl. Instead the park is a good location for viewing songbirds once the leaves and wildflowers appear in the late Spring. The wildflower garden next to the nature center building is a great place to observe hummingbirds. Warblers like the thickets just downstream from the pond.
- Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory: Raptors and songbirds do not like to migrate across large bodies of water, in this case Lake Superior. During the fall migration, the ridge located above Duluth and accessed via SkyLine Drive in east Duluth is a birders paradise. Winds out of the northwest which force migrating birds against Lake Superior will often mean lots of bird activity on the ridge. During September and October bird counters and naturalists will be present to answer questions for the general public.
- Lake View National Golf Course: This golf course is located 20 miles north of Duluth on the northeast side of Two Harbors. Birds love the golf course’s ponds, deep forest which borders the course, and the proximity to Lake Superior. Birding is best in the spring and fall when golf is shut down for the year.
- Minnesota Point (Park Point / Wisconsin Point): Drive to Sky Harbor Airport at the end of Minnesota Point / Park Point. A hiking trail starts just to the left of the airport gate. This trail allows one to walk all they way to the Wisconsin harbor entry. During the spring and fall migrations it is quite often possible to see hundreds, if not thousands of ducks in the bay. Once leaves and wildflowers appear, other birds will also make their presence known. Don’t forget to check out the lake side during your hike for ducks. If the smelt and herring are staging for their spring spawn, the ducks will know it!
- Old Vermilion Trail: This dirt road is about 14 miles north of Duluth (see link for location). Yours truly maintains some feeder stations in this forest area which has great bird habitat including pine and deciduous forest, wetlands, meadows and streams.
- Pagami Creek Wildfire Region: Forest fires generate great birding areas. A wildfire actually brings a region back to life, and ultimately betters both the animal and birding habitat. Certain kinds of birds, often rare otherwise, preferred burned out regions. The Pagami Creek Wildfire Region may be accessed via Tomahawk Road off state highway #1 a bit west of Isabella, Minnesota. The road is not plowed in the winter.
- Sax-Zim Bog (Festival): This region has the best boreal winter birding in the lower fourty-eight. If your desire is to see Great Grey Owls, Northern Hawk Owls, Snowy Owls, Grey Jays and Pine Grosbeaks … just to name a few birds, this region which is about 40 miles north of Duluth off US Hwy #53 near Cotton, Minnesota should be on your bucket list. Read more about the Sax-Zim Bog via the New York Times!
- Western Waterfront Trail: This natural gravel / dirt hiking trail in west Duluth is a great place for viewing waterfowl, and songbirds. The trail routes next to the St. Louis River channel and wetlands which makes for great bird habitat.
- Wisconsin Wetlands: Lake Superior keeps northeastern Minnesota cold during the early Spring. Winds that blow from the south do not have to cross over the cold waters (38F in March / April) of Lake Superior; thus in northwestern Wisconsin within 20 miles of Duluth there are two wetlands area that turn on “way before” the North Shore of Lake Superior. In addition to migrating waterfowl, these two areas hold grassland birds almost never seen in the boreal forests of Northeastern Minnesota.
Birding Facebook birding groups which often have a northern Minnesota Focus:
- Duluth Audubon Society
- Crex Meadows Wildlife Area
- Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
- Minnesota Birding
- Northeastern Minnesota Birding
- Owl About Minnesota
- Sax-Zim Bog
Minnesota Rare Bird Alerts:
View my bird photographs via Flickr: (view this blog’s image index)