A Birder's Guide

to Minnesota

~ Fifth Edition ~

This new edition has been expanded to 464 pages and still includes bird-finding information for all 87 counties, and a 55-page annotated list with all 447 species found in Minnesota through spring of 2022, with their status and distribution statewide, plus numerous tips on ID.


New features added to this edition include birding contacts for each county, QR-code links to online maps and to regular updates with corrections & additions, and nearly 200 color photos.

Note that the first printing is essentially sold out, but a Second Printing is now completed – it includes several minor revisions, a new cover, and non-spiral binding.

~  Corrections & Additions  ~

As of APRIL 2023

(most of these are included in the recently released Second Printing)

NOTE: Since some information in the text had been written as early as 2019, already some updates will

be helpful. This collection of updates will continue as needed to provide those who use this reference to Minnesota's birding locations with the most accurate and up-to-date information available. Accordingly, please contact the author with new information you become aware of so this can be passed on to other Minnesota birders: e-mail (eckertkr@gmail.com), or phone/text (218 349 5953).

(My thanks to Jon Beck, Gerry Hoekstra, Jim Lind, Fr. Tom Margevicius, and Brian Smith who provided information for some of these updates.)


p. ii – A better website than birdnerdz.net for sales of this guide is thephotonaturalist.com.

p. 16 (W, SE & NE Regions) – Besides Minnesota’s three major biomes, Tallgrass Aspen Parkland represents a fourth (and relatively minor) biome. It is limited to parts of Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, and Polk counties, has limited ornithological significance, and accordingly gets little attention in this guide.

p. 18 – Avenza Maps is no longer recommended for storing maps and other contents in the QRs. One reason is that this app is unable read the primary QR codes of several of the counties, and you can scan these and other QRs to store their contents as needed with no need for Avenza. Just use the QR reader on your smartphone's camera (or any QR reader app) to scan, download, and save the maps – e.g., simply email or text them to yourself and save in the same way as with other files.            

p. 19 – Another term used by birders should be included on this page since its definition is often misunderstood: • Boreal = Northern (e.g., as in boreal forest); note that it is not synonymous with coniferous, since boreal forests can consist of deciduous trees.


p. 20-23 – County Birding Contacts:

Add the following to the list of contacts –

    • Kittson: Ezra Hosch <emh328@outlook.com>

    • Douglas: Ben Eckhoff <benjamin.eckhoff@state.mn.us>

    • Freeborn: Ezra Hosch <emh328@outlook.com>

    • Fillmore: Todd Mitchell <tamitchell66@gmail.com>

    • Meeker: Koni & Paul Fank <condor_puffins@yahoo.com>

Change contact method from e-mail to texting

    • Jeanie Joppru (Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Polk counties): 218 280 3977

    • Mike Hendrickson (St. Louis County): 218 348 5124


p. 27 – The MOU Records Committee recognized a total of 447 species recorded in the state through the spring of 2022, and an additional 4 species have now been reported and documented. Since this 5th edition went to press in the summer of 2022, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Brown Booby, Phainopepla, and Abert's Towhee are currently under review; of these, the consensus is the first three will definitely be accepted, with only the Abert’s Towhee in question due to its provenance. If the towhee is accepted, the Minnesota list would include 451 species through November 2022, with the total of Accidentals increasing to 94 species.

Accordingly, in this Annotated List section, Broad-billed Hummingbird is added after Rufous Hummingbird (p. 37), Brown Booby (and Family Sulidae) added after Magnificent Frigatebird (p. 48), Phainopepla (and Family Ptillogonatidae) added after Cedar Waxwing (p. 64), and Abert’s Towhee (if accepted) added after Swamp Sparrow (p. 73).

With these records, it follows that Broad-billed Hummingbird and Phainopepla are no longer on the list of possible future additions to the Minnesota checklist – see p. 82.

p. 80 – In the Yellow-throated Warbler paragraph (as mentioned on p. 233), it should be added that Hillside Road in Houston County [site 7] is currently the most consistent location for this species, with annual sightings from 2018 through 2022.  


Brown County

p. 190 – Of the US Highway 14 wetlands west of New Ulm [site 7], the best one recently has been Somsen WMA on the north side of US 14: turn north on CR 12, 0.9 mi. west of the Walmart.

Watonwan County

p. 192 – The water levels at the 320th Street Wetland [site 1] were managed and became too low in 2022, and the birding was not as productive as in previous years; hopefully, though, this situation is only temporary.

p. 193 – Meadowlark Prairies Outdoor Lab (33672 733rd Ave.) is a mostly wooded area just northeast of St. James with edge habitats to attract migrant passerines, and with good potential as well for breeding species and winter visitants. From downtown St. James, go east on 1st Ave. S to 11th St. S / CR 54, then 0.5 mi. north, 0.2 mi. east, and 0.3 mi. north to the sign and main trailhead.

Pipestone County

p. 202-203 – The city of Pipestone now asks that birders get an annual permit before entering the sewage ponds [site 6]. Joel Adelman continues to be a good contact person, but for a more direct way of obtaining a permit, contact Jeff Jones’ office at (507) 825 3324.

Nobles County

p. 209 – One of the best wetlands in southeastern Nobles Co. is along Quine Avenue: e.g., Cinnamon Teal, Black-necked Stilt, and White-faced Ibis were all found here on a single day in May 2022. From the CR 57 access to Ocheda Lake [site 8], continue 1 mi. south, 0.5 mi. east to Quine Ave., and another 0.5 mi. south.  

p. 210 – The number to call for vehicle access to the Adrian sewage ponds has changed: contact Kendall at (507) 841 3574.

Jackson County

p. 213 – In the Sioux Valley area [site 11], better access and birding for Skunk Lake is at the WMA on the south side of the lake. From Sioux Valley, go 2.5 mi. east on CR 4, then zigzag south-east-south-west on 410th Ave. for 2 mi., then back north on the two-track road through the WMA’s mixed habitats.    


Wabasha County

p. 241-242 – There are additional accesses to the woods and wetlands along the Mississippi River backwaters between Weaver and Kellogg, which are shown on Upper Mississippi River NWR maps:

• Two of these are along 622nd St., which turns east off CR 84, just north of the McCarthy Lake WMA sign [site 4]: i.e., the West Newton Chute and Halfmoon Lake landings (see map at fws.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Pool5%20%28Front%29.pdf).

• Three others are north of Lock & Dam #4 [site 6]: i.e., 0.4 mi. north of the dam at the corner of 657th St. and 140th Ave. (not labeled on the NWR map, but probably the best of these three), and Peterson Lake and Wilcox landings (see map at fws.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Pool4%20%28Back%29.pdf).

p. 242 – To reach Reads Landing [site 7], turn down to the river off US 61 at the inconspicuous CR 77 sign, 3 mi. northwest of MN 60.

Sibley County

p. 263 – The former Le Sueur sewage ponds [site 1] can still be scanned from the side road to the public access immediately west of the river or from the shoulder of southbound US 169, but there is no longer good access a half mile west of the river off 169.

p 264 – While Sand Lake [site 8] is visible from the public access on MN 15, 3 mi. south of Winthrop, there are better views from 310th St. west of MN 15 on the north side of the lake.  

Rice County

p. 269 – Among the lakes of secondary interest in the county is Circle Lake, which has two sites of note. One is its county park: from I-35 at exit #66, go 2.4 mi. west on CR 1, then 0.8 mi. southwest on Circle Lake Tr. The other is Canby Pond, adjacent to the east end of Circle L. (often attractive to waders and sometimes shorebirds): from I-35, go 1.4 mi. west on CR 1 to Canby Ave. / CR 60, 1.0 mi. south to 120th Court, then west and north along the west side of the pond.

p. 269 – The best place recently to look for Acadian Flycatchers and other specialties at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park [site 3] has been east of the campground along the Hidden Falls Trail.    

p. 270 – At Koester Prairie [site 9], Bell's Vireos were present in 2022 about 1/4 mi. east of the trailhead and WMA sign on Lamb Ave., 0.9 mi. south of CR 31.  

Goodhue County

p. 272 – From Red Wing, the easiest way to Colville Park [site 5] is via US 61: turn south at the first MN 292 sign, 1 mi. east of the stoplight at US 63.

p. 274 – In the Prairie Island area, the road to the casino (Sturgeon Lake Rd.) is marked by a relatively inconspicuous stop sign on CR 18 that can be missed. This road brings you first to the casino: next turn left at the sign for the marina on Sturgeon Lake [site 13]: then return to Sturgeon Lake Rd., continue to the curve going right, and jog left to another public access at the backwaters; and rerurn to the main road which becomes Wakonade Rd. leading to more backwaters and the lock & dam [site 14].

Dakota County

p. 276 – The trail on top of the levee in the Lake Rebecca area [site 3] extends from the dam, west past the north end of Lake Rebecca, and eventually to CR 42. Also be sure check the Washington County side of the river north of the US 61 bridge – a Roseate Spoonbill stood on the flats here a few years back.

p. 277 – Fortunately, the 140th Street Marsh [site 5] has mostly recovered from the impact of the extension of the adjacent landfill in 2020. In addition to the Willet, White-faced Ibis, and Bell’s Vireo seen here in 2021, during 2022 there were reports of 24 shorebirds (including avocet), another Bell’s Vireo, Lark and Henslow’s sparrows, and Blue Grosbeak.

Carver County  

p. 287 – The gated trail a half mile from the Sibley Co. line on CR 40 [site 1] has been abandoned, is overgrown, and no longer passable.

p. 287 – The trails in Minnesota Valley NWR [site 2] on Rapids Lake Rd. west of the Rapids Lake Visitor Center and from the North Hunter Lot on CR 11 mostly pass through grasslands before coming to the woods; look for Henslow Sparrow and other species partial to such open terrain.    

Wright County

p. 297 – Amended directions to the public access on the north side of Pelican Lake [site 6] at Fallon Avenue: from CR 37, go 100 yards south on Fallon Ave. (not to the end of Fallon), then east at the public access sign to Holker’s Landing.

Anoka County

p. 319 – If birding Centerville Lake in summer [site 13], be aware of the Acadian Flycatchers found in at least the past two years about a mile west of Centerville L. Find your way up to I-35W, take the Lake Dr. / CR 23 exit (#36), go 1.2 mi. south to Aqua Ln., then turn 0.6 mi. east, and listen on the south side of the road.


Sherburne County

p. 328 – The parking lot on the Sherburne side of the Mississippi opposite Monticello [site 3] no longer has an actual church but still provides a view of the river. When traveling northwest from MN 25 on CR 11, however, you cannot turn left to access this lot: accordingly, go 0.3 mi. northwest from 25 on CR 11, turn around at the driveway on the right, then return southeast to 187th Ave. and turn right.       

p. 330 – Amended directions to the Zimmerman sewage ponds: From CR 4 / Fremont Ave., go 0.8 mi. south on 2nd St. E through town and past the disc golf course, then turn right at the gate to the city compost site, and continue another 0.2 mi. south.


Pine County

p. 355 – The directions to Gandy Dancer Forest Road [site 6] should include going north on CR 31 to Cloverton (as shown on the county map) – not Cloverdale.

Beltrami County

p. 386 – The best views of Lower Red Lake from the Ponemah Road [site 10] are 3.5 - 4.5 north of MN 1. To reach the point between Lower and Upper Red lakes, take the right fork on the loop road 5.5 mi. beyond Ponemah, then continue 0.6 mi. and turn right to a boat landing for your only real view of Upper Red L. However, the birding on both lakes (when you can see them) tends to be on the slow side, the woods along Ponemah Rd. are deciduous and disappointing as well (except for that point between the lakes), and this route takes you miles out of your way with little to show for it if no migration is going on.

p. 387 – If heading next for the eastern half of Upper Red L., turn north at the unmarked paved road immediately west of the Ponemah community center, go 10.5 mi. north and east to the reservation border, where the road becomes CR 108 and continues 3.8 mi. east to Shotley and eventually to MN 72 via CR 23. From west to east on 108 and 23: you can scan the lake at the WMA public access (turn north, 0.8 mi. east of the reservation boundary) [site 12], 1.8 mi. north of Shotley at the corner where CR 23 turns east, and 1.5 mi. farther east at Rogers Rd. [also site 12].  

p. 387 – Waskish Road / CR 112 [site 15] is also numbered as CR 40 on some maps.

p. 389 – Amended directions to Ponemah sewage ponds: 0.4 mi. north on unsigned road immediately east of the community center.

Lake of the Woods County

p. 391 – Recently published reports indicate that single pairs of Piping Plovers had apparently nested at Morris Point [site 3] in four of the past five years.

Koochiching County

p. 398 – Despite construction of a wide power line corridor and continued logging, the habitat on County Road 13 [site 10] was still productive in summer 2022, with records of both sought-after woodpeckers, Canada Jay, Boreal Chickadee, and other coniferous specialties.  

Itasca County

p. 402 – Delete Sunset View [site 6], which is now a private residential area with a gated entrance road and no lake access.

p. 402– Amended directions to Bowen Lodge [site 6]: from the junction of CR 9 and MN 46, go 3.8 mi. north to CR 148 / Williams Narrows Rd., then 0.5 mi. west to the fork, and left on Bowens Rd. for 3 mi. to the lodge.

St. Louis County

p. 409-411 – Due to a long-term construction project, there will be times with closures and detours related to I-535 and the Blatnik Bridge in Duluth during the next few years. This may impact access to the Port Terminal [site 7], Interstate Island [site 8], and Superior, WI. Currently, and during much of 2022, the only access to I-535 is via Garfield Ave. from either Superior St. (just west of 16th Ave. W) or from the west end of Railroad St.

p. 416 – Probably the best place to park and scan Lake Superior at the mouth of the Lester River [site 23] is behind the University of MN limnology building at 6008 London Rd.: turn in at the driveway leading to the parking areas, either immediately west of the river; or at the 60th Ave. E intersection.

p. 421 – The Sharp-tailed Grouse lek [site 32] may no longer be active. Only 2 displaying males were still present into spring 2022, and none has been reported there since then as of December 2022. Sharp-taileds can still occur randomly at other sites in Sax-Zim, with probably the best place to look along CR 7, 1-2 mi. south of Sax.

p. 423 – After virtually no documented reports ever in the heavily birded Sax-Zim Bog, a handful of confirmed Spruce Grouse records (some photographed) started to occur at various sites there in 2022 and early 2023. These have all been since the wildfire in fall 2021 along Lake CR 2, an area where Spruce Grouse have consistently occurred for decades (see p. 437-438). There is speculation that some of these grouse were displaced by the fire and accordingly turned up at Sax-Zim.

Lake County

p. 430 – East Stanley Road in Two Harbors has again become a private residential road with no birding access.  

Cook County


p. 443 – Upper Cliff House Rd. at Lutsen Resort [site 8] is worth birding for sparrows and other migrants partial to open areas. From the main entrance road to the resort, turn west at the sign immediately south of MN 61, and check the fields and edges along this 1/4-mile-long road.

p. 449 – Although birders have long been visiting the Lutsen sewage ponds [site 9], some birders there were recently asked to leave. It is possible this new restriction is only temporary, and that other public works staff would allow access.

The retail price of A Birder's Guide to Minnesota is $34.95 for the First Printing ($37.50 incl. sales tax), or $39.95 + tax for Second Printing copies, with discounts applicable through some sources (e.g., MBWeekends, MOU events). Currently, it is directly available from...

• For those in the Twin Cities: contact Steve Bossert or Bob Bossert who are distributing

   the book from their residencies. To buy a book from either of them, sent a text to Steve in

   St. Paul at 612 222 8248, or to Bob in Excelsior at 612 759 2941, and they will then get

   back to you to work out the details.Your total payment will be $32.00, due at the time of your

   pickup and given directly to Bob or Steve. This can be by check (payable to Kim Eckert), or

   by cash, or by bank transfer via Zelle. Please note that this amount includes sales tax and

   represents a $5.50 discount off the regular retail price of $37.50 (or $34.95 + tax).  

• For those in the Duluth area: contact the author (phone/text 218 349 5953, or email

   eckertkr@gmail.com) to arrange a time and place to pick up a copy; or Sparky Stensaas      

   has it for sale at his website (thephotonaturalist.com). It will also be available at the Sax-Zim

   Bog Welcome Center when they reopen in June .

• Of course, the book will available at all MBWeekends (and discounted to $32.00 tax included).

   Other outlets include AdventureKeen Publications, Buteo Books, Amazon.com. Note that the

   first printing nearly sold out after only four months, but a Second Printing is now available as

   of May 20, featuring some minor corrections & additions, a new cover, and non-spiral binding.