Stunning Birds Returning to Lake of the Woods

A sure sign of spring is the birds that return to Lake of the Woods. Of course, everyone is excited to see the beautiful robin show up in our yards, but my favorite thing is to see the beautiful white sea gulls come back to our area.seagull 2

Yes, sea gulls! Lake of the Woods is the largest fresh water lake in the contiguous United States next to the great lakes. I keep putting this message out there because Lake of the Woods is still elusive to many vacationers. Travel north as far as you can go in Minnesota and find this beautiful body of water. On the US side, Big Traverse is the large basin of the lake where you can’t even see land on the other side.

That’s why the sea gulls think it’s a sea!! They flock to this destination as do the many many varieties of birds. They are scavengers and noisy, but are a beautiful sight. Avid bird watchers come to this area to explore and watch for their favorite birds.

birds returningAlmost 300 species of birds nest here and can be seen and heard in any season of the year. Pine to Prairie Birding Trail  is a unique partnership between the NW Minnesota communities of Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids, Roseau, Thief River Falls, & Warroad. Bird-watching has become a national obsession and is one of the country’s fastest growing hobbies

One favorite sight in the spring is traveling on Hwy 72 driving north and coming to the wild rice paddies. Farmers are already flooding their fields and the snow geesebeautiful snow geese and swans start arriving to see if they can feast on the food the water supply. What a sight!! pelican 1

Have you ever stood up next to a giant white pelican. Oh my!! They are huge. The Lake of the Woods area is one of only three places in Minnesota that the American White Pelican will nest. Clementson Rapids, 6 miles east of Baudette, is one of the finest displays of beauty and and this location lures great numbers of these fine birds in its waters. Many visitors stop and watch as the stunning birds swim up current to catch those fish that have just come down the rapids. They often sun on the monstrous rocks there and photographers take advantage of snapping shots at these mammoth birds!! A sheer sight to behold.

By boat and along shorelines you can find many other birds to feast your eyes on. Canadian Geese, Tundra Swans, Great Blue Herons, Mallards and Common Loons are in abundance. Double-crested Cormorants, and four species of gulls and terns can be found on the many islands that dot the lake. Don’t forget our Minnesota State Bird, the beautiful Loon, whose song can be heard early morning and evening.

piping ploverPine and Curry Islands host the endangered Piping Plover and have been designated a state Scientific and Natural Area. Visitors are still invited to stop on the island to walk the beautiful sandy beach and watch these tiny birds scurry across the land.

As you travel the roads of Lake of the Woods you will often see something huge standing in the fields. What you are seeing are pairs of sand hill cranes. They seem to love this land and many many pairs live in this area.

The most beautiful and stunning bird is the American Bald Eagle. bald eagle on ground 150x150 1They have claimed Lake of the Woods as their home where they stay all year round.  You are often able to see their gigantic nests high in the treetops while driving down the road. It is a special treat to view this stunning bird sitting alongside the roadways feasting on an unfortunate animal that has been killed by a car. It’s another amazing experience to come along side of that bird as he takes flight and spreads his wings right in front of you.

Other birds of prey that return are the Osprey, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red Tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, and Turkey Vulture. The sight of a Great Gray or Snowy Owl, or crow-sized Pileated Woodpecker is a thrill for any bird lover.

Spring’s ambassador is the Red Wing Blackbird, followed by sparrows, warblers, robins, vireos, orioles, finches, grosbeaks, magpies, and humming birds. Their activities and songs continue into late fall. Check out or check out the MNDNR birding lists!

For more information about the Lake of the Woods area and lodging opportunities, check out our website at


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