Birding in Bemidji
Over 200 species of birds that include the beloved loon and the largest nesting population of Bald Eagles in continental US, Bemidji’s natural beauty provides endless hours of birding observation and enjoyment. Bemidji is named the hub of Minnesota’s bird watching specifically because of the opportunities afforded by the biodiversity of the land. The varied natural landscapes found within the Bemidji region include: PEAT LANDS and conifer bogs which are populated by species that include Sharp-tailed Grouse, Great Gray Owls and Connecticut Warblers. Minnesota’s last remnants of PRAIRIE TRACT are also located near Bemidji, where you can view Prairie Chicken, Meadowlarks and Sandhill Cranes. ANCIENT PINES are a special feature of Bemidji and house a host of migratory species that include a variety of Warblers, Woodpeckers, Sparrows and Hawks. Bemidji’s NORTHERN HARDWOODS (sugar maple, basswood and red oak) are prominent in the area and provide homes to Golden-winged Warblers, Least Flycatchers and the Yellow Billed Cuckoo, just to name a few.
Natural Landscapes of Bemidji
The migration of Warblers and other Songbirds is the highlight of Bemidji’s spring birdwatching. Also seen are Trumpeter Swans, which have been becoming more common after recent reintroduction efforts. Sharptailed Grouse and Prairie Chicken are also species which may be seen in the vicinity and their spectacular spring displays are not to be missed.
Uncommon species to look for at this time of year include the Yellow Rail, found in the sedge bogs around Leech Lake, the Short-eared Owl, spotted in the Red Lake Peatland, the Boreal Chickadee and the Blackbacked Woodpecker found in many of the forest lands. The Connecticut Warbler can be found to the north in the Beltrami Island State Forest, and the Eagles are seen commonly at their nest sites at the top of large white pine trees. Loons are also a must see as they are found in most lakes in the Bemidji area. Other favorites are Red-necked Brebes and Black Terns, both species which nest in the shallow wetlands so common in the northland. Also a favorite species for birders to pursue, the Northern Goshawk is an elusive forest dweller, found nesting in the nearby Chippewa National Forest.
This season is a wonderful time to look for migrating ducks. Lake Bemidji has Common Merganser, Scoup, Golden Eyes, Tundra Swans and an occasional rarity such as a White-winged Scoter, all fall visitors on the lake. Also seen during fall migration are the Songbirds, Peregrine Falcons and Rough-legged Hawks.
Hawk Owls and Great Gray Owls regularly cross the border to spend winter in the northern parts of the region. Good viewing sites are the tamarack woods along Highway 72, north of Waskish. Other owl visitors such as the Boreal Owl, and the Snowy Owl can also be seen in the vicinity particularly in owl “invitation” years. Other unique birds seen at feeders in the northland include Crossbills, Pine Siskins, Pileated Woodpeckers, Pine Grosbeaks and Purple Finches. Large numers of Bohemian Waxwings, Nuthatches, Common Redpolls and Evening Grosbeaks have also been seen. Less common sightings include Northern Goshawk, Golden Crowned Kinglet and Northern Shrike.
Bemidji Birding Designation City
Audubon Minnesota designated Bemidji as the state’s third Bird City on June 10-11, 2017.
Bird City Minnesota recognizes and celebrates communities with a long-term commitment to:
* creating bird habitat,
* reducing threats to birds, and
* engaging citizens in birding, bird conservation, and outdoor recreation.
Bemidji earned this prestigious designation for being a great place for birds, and people, because of the many Bemidji organizations, agencies, and residents involved in conservation and stewardship projects that benefit birds and other wild creatures. Programs have been developed dedicated to live hawks and owls; to reducing bird strikes; and with BSU students banding purple martins as they are involved in important research. Other activities include the “Birds, Bees, & Butterflies – Bemidji” project that promotes planting native wild flowers, shrubs and trees. You will also see signs and activities around the city that highlight gardens to promote bird and pollinator-friendly plants.