What is an Important Bird Area?
Important Bird Areas (IBAs) provide essential habitat for one or more breeding, wintering, and/or migrating bird species. The IBA program is designed to be proactive, voluntary, participatory, science-based and works to identify, monitor and conserve the most essential habitats for birds.
Why an Important Bird Area Program?
Increasing land use pressures from urban sprawl, agricultural and forestry practices, and outdoor recreation threaten to diminish both the quantity and quality of critical bird habitat throughout the state.
Minnesotans have long expressed a widespread interest in the birds of our state, yet despite this interest, there has never been an effort to systematically identify and protect the habitats most crucial to the long-term survival of Minnesota's native bird populations.
IBAs serve as a catalyst for involving Audubon members and for informing the public about those areas most critical for the long-term survival of birds. These areas are an important tool for prioritizing land use options for national, state, and local land managers. Improved decision making regarding land use options will help ensure the long-term health of both common and uncommon bird species.
IBAs are international in scope. BirdLife International conceived and initiated the IBA program in Europe in 1981. Since then, more than 7,500 sites, in 170 countries, have been identified as IBAs. In 1995 the National Audubon Society became the officially designated U.S. partner of Birdlife International for the purpose of implementing the IBA program. Currently, efforts are underway in 46 states to identify IBAs, resulting in the official identification of more than 1,800 U.S. sites to date.
Audubon Minnesota, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Nongame Program, began implementing the IBA program in Minnesota in February 2003. An IBA Technical Committee was formed, comprised of numerous bird experts and conservationists from Audubon, other birding groups, and federal and state agencies.
The Technical Committee has established State-specific criteria and a nomination form for the Minnesota IBA program and evaluates sites for IBA identification. In Minnesota, over 225 IBAs have been suggested, 54 sites have been identified as IBAs, and more are under consideration.
IBAs and You
IBAs are a natural focus of volunteer monitoring projects, which can lead to positive local stewardship and advocacy. Identification of a site as an IBA is both a tool for assisting private landowners and public land managers, and a rationale for preserving habitat from threats.
Support the IBA program through citizen science and stewardship. This may include conducting bird monitoring, volunteering to help land managers, and/or being a conservation advocate. For more information, contact Mark Martell, Audubon Minnesota's Director of Bird Conservation.
Situated in the transition zone between the tallgrass prairie and prairie pothole region in northwestern Minnesota, 40,000 ducks and 14,000 geese use this IBA during migration. The largest Franklin's Gull colony in Minnesota and one of the largest in North America, along with Black Terns, Eared Grebes and other waterbirds nest here.
Located in north-central Ramsey County is a natural area of nearly 2,000 acres in an urban landscape supporting 66 bird species. It consists of two parts: the Ramsey County Open Space known as Rice Creek North and the Arden Hills Army Training Site (AHATS). It has important habitat for waterfowl, raptors, and passerines all within an urban area, offers a unique opportunity for birders and others to view wildlife in the Twin Cities. Trumpeter Swans with their young have been observed repeatedly and a small number of Forster's Terns and Red-shouldered Hawks have been seen.
Approximately 72,000 acres located in Stearns County this IBAs prominent features include the large tamarack-rimmed St. Wendel Bog which includes Swamp Lake, the St. John's Arboretum (2,737 acres) which includes the St. John's University campus, three waterfowl production areas and two state scientific and natural areas (Max Partch Woods, and the Avon Hills Forest SNA. The area is rich with waterbirds, including nesting Wood Ducks, Common Loons, Blue-winged Teal, Common Mergansers and Pied-billed Grebes. Species common to both the northern and southern part of the state are found here including Red-shouldered Hawks, Cerulean Warblers, and Blue-winged Warblers.
The Big Bog IBA, over 1.7 million acres in size is in habitat generally known as the Red Lake Peatlands, and contains some of the most unique terrain and habitat in the United States. It is a vast, forested, boreal landscape at latitude where elsewhere in the eastern forest in the US, boreal forest is uncommon. The area is located in north central Minnesota north and east of the Red Lake Reservoir. This IBA includes land within the Red Lake Indian Reservation along with a number of state owned Wildlife Management Areas, Scientific and Natural Areas and State Forests and Parks. At least 289 bird species are found in this area, including at least 12 species of breeding warblers. At least 110 species are major users of this habitat. Numbers alone do not convey the unique diversity of species found in this transitional zone between prairie, deciduous forest, and northern boreal forest. Boreal forest species such as Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers and many species of neo-tropical warblers occur and breed in this area. The site is a major concentration point for Northern Hawk Owls and Great Gray Owls during the period November to March. The fact that some mammals and many bird species are at the southern edge of their distributional range in this IBA confers even more ecological significance to this area.
The Bluestem Prairie and Buffalo River State Park constitute one of the largest continuous, undisturbed grasslands in Minnesota. This site consists of over 10,000 acres of native and restored prairie and has been designated as one of the highest quality prairie sites in the United States. Also included in this IBA are the Margherita Preserve - Audubon Prairie, the Magnusson W.M.A and three other Nature Conservancy parcels. This IBA is located east of Moorhead, Minnesota just south of U. S. Highway 10. It is bounded on the west by Minnesota State Highway 9, on the east by Clay County Road 23 and on the south by Clay County Road 10. Located within Buffalo River State Park is Moorhead Minnesota State University Regional Science Center. Within this IBA Greater Prairie-Chickens occur in large numbers, one of the largest concentrations remaining in Minnesota The grasslands at the site also provide prime habitat for other species of grassland birds including Upland Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Short-eared Owl, Western Meadowlark, Bobolink and Northern Harrier. Grassland sparrows including Savannah, Clay-colored, Le Conte's, Grasshopper, Field and Lark are well represented at this site. Henslow's Sparrow's are found sporadically especially at Buffalo River State Park. The Loggerhead Shrike, a Minnesota species on the Threatened List, is found regularly in this area.
The Blufflands-Root River Important Bird Area, located in the very SE corner of Minnesota is situated in the "driftless area," one of the most interesting geologic regions of Minnesota. This IBA is marked by deep river valleys, steep river banks, floodplain forests and upland deciduous forests. This mix of habitats is important to both breeding and migrating species and is located in an area otherwise dominated by agriculture. Over 185 species have been observed within the IBA boundaries, 45 of which are Species of Greatest Conservation Need. This IBA contains the highest number of breeding Acadian Flycatchers and Cerulean Warblers known in the state and has the second largest population of Louisiana Waterthrush.
The Camp Ripley-Pillsbury-Lake Alexander IBA is located in central Minnesota within Morrison, Cass and Crow Wing counties. The Mississippi, Crow Wing and Gull rivers are significant water features within the landscape. This IBA encompasses an area of 155,432 acres. Public land areas within this IBA include Camp Ripley Military Reservation, Crow Wing and Cass county lands, Pillsbury State Forest, Crow Wing State Park, the eastern portion of Meadowbrook Wildlife Management Area, the Little Nokasippi River State Wildlife Management Area and Lake Alexander Woods Scientific & Natural Area. The Nature Conservancy and Minnesota Power & Light also own land within the boundaries of this IBA. This IBA supports the greatest known concentration of nesting Red-shouldered Hawks in the state. In addition, 228 species of birds have been documented at Camp Ripley including 28 species of warblers, including the most northerly site of the Hooded Warbler. Other species of concern found within this IBA include the Bald Eagle, Trumpeter Swan, Yellow Rail, and Louisiana Waterthrush.
The Carlos Avery Important Bird Area is a large, multi-owner, and easily accessible site, with its southern boundary located about 12 miles from the center of the Twin Cities. The variety of habitats contained within this IBA makes it an important area for the 239 species which have been recorded here, including 67 Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The state's densest documented concentration of Red-headed Woodpeckers (25 confirmed nests) is located in this IBA.
The Chippewa Plains IB A includes the entire Chippewa National Forest as well as Lake Pokegama to the east and portions of Blackduck State Forest to the northwest. This IBA is rich with bird diversity with 244 species documented here including; 22 species of breeding warblers, large concentrations of migrating waterfowl, and a variety of nesting waterbirds such as the Common Loon, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, American White Pelican, Common Tern, and Caspian Tern.
The Crane Meadows Rice-Skunk Lake Important Bird Area includes the Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and is located in Morrison County about 5 miles southeast of Little Falls, MN and 65 miles northwest of the Twin Cities. This IBA is important to migrating waterfowl, nesting waterbirds and both breeding and migratory populations of Sandhill Cranes. The diversity of birds that have been documented to occur within this IBA throughout the years is also impressive with 204 species, including 57 Species of Greatest Conservation Need such as the Black Tern, Common Loon, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Grasshopper Sparrow, Bobolink and Loggerhead Shrike.
Located in Clay County near the Red River south of Felton this IBA is home to many grassland species including Chestnut-collared Longspur, Baird's and Henslow's Sparrow, Sprague's Pipit, Loggerhead Shrike, Marbled Godwit, Prairie Chicken, Yellow Rail, Swainson's Hawk, Hudsonian Godwit, Dickcissel, and Bobolink.
The Glacial Ridge IBA includes a large complex of prairie grasslands and wetlands at the southern extent of Minnesota's Aspen Parkland region which is characterized by a mosaic of prairie, sedge wetlands, and aspen groves. Glacial Ridge is one of the top sites in Minnesota for prairie birds, particularly species dependent on wet prairie and sedge wetlands. Of the 164 species recorded here, 16 are State listed species including Burrowing Owls, Greater Prairie Chickens, Marbled Godwits and Yellow Rails. A total of 43 Species of Greatest Conservation Need are found in the IBA with relatively high numbers of American Bittern, Upland Sandpiper, Le Conte's Sparrow, and Bobolink. This area also has fall migratory Sandhill Crane roosts with 2,000 - 6,000 birds documented and is within the important NW Minnesota Sandhill Crane breeding range.
Goose Lake Swamp IBA encompasses a linear complex of wetlands (emergent marsh, rich fen, and wet meadow) and wet prairie within the Aspen Parkland region, approximately 300 miles northwest of the Twin Cities. During the breeding season this area supports a substantial number state-listed species, including Yellow Rails, Wilson's Phalaropes, and Nelson's Sparrows.
Over 2 dozen species of waterfowl, 31 species of shorebirds, 11 marsh bird species, many neo-tropical migrants and avian predators rely on the shallow-water and prairie habitats that have been restored on the refuge. Located one mile northeast of Audubon in Becker County.
Over 60,000 migrating raptors fly over this IBA each fall. Large numbers of Broad-winged Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks and Bald Eagles are counted every fall. Located in Duluth, the reserve is owned by the City of Duluth and managed by the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.
Over 220 species of birds frequent this site including trumpeter swans, goshawks, loons, and bald eagles. Located between Park Rapids and Bemidji, in Clearwater County, this IBA is home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
The Kettle River - St. Croix IBA includes the uppermost reaches of the St. Croix River in Minnesota, along with two major tributaries: the Kettle River and Lower Tamarack River. The IBA encompasses the relatively contiguous forest-wetland corridor along these important rivers, including numerous wetlands and smaller tributary streams. Several large managed areas form the core of this IBA, including St. Croix State Park, Banning State Park, St. Croix State Forest, Chengwatana State Forest, Kettle River Scientific and Natural Area, and St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Other significant lands within the IBA include the Sandstone Unit of Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge, three state wildlife management areas (WMA), Pine County forestry lands, and several tracts of the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation. At least 196 species of birds have been observed within this IBA, including approximately 134 regularly breeding species. Its location makes it a significant migratory corridor for Bald Eagles and waterbirds.
This IBA consists of almost 400,000 acres area of aspen parkland landscape in extreme northwestern Minnesota. Eleven Sandhill Crane roost sites with 12,000 birds and 262 species including significant numbers of Horned Grebes, Wilson's Phalaropes, Yellow Rails, Marbled Godwits, Short-eared Owls, American Bitterns, Upland Sandpipers, and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows are found here.
This IBA extends from Montevideo in Chippewa County along the Minnesota River northwest from Lac Qui Parle Lake, to Mud Lake. It extends to the east to include almost all of Big Stone County and the south-west portion of Traverse County. This IBA contains a very diverse number of habitats including; prairie grasslands (both virgin and restored), floodplain deciduous forests and their riparian habitats, a wide variety of marshes, several very large lakes plus numerous smaller bodies of water such as prairie potholes. This has resulted in a rich diversity of species including some of Minnesota's largest concentrations of Canada Geese and other waterfowl, the world's largest American White Pelican breeding colony (2006) along with other waterbirds, shorebirds and grassland songbirds. This diverse wildlife habitat is surrounded by some of the best, and as a result, the most intensely farmed areas in the upper Midwest. The area is recognized as one of the top ranked birding areas in the State of Minnesota and also attracts waterfowl and upland game hunters and other outdoor recreation users.
Lake Byllesby lies in the Cannon River Valley located about 30 miles due south of downtown St. Paul. As birds migrate northward in the spring via the Mississippi River corridor, many eventually leave the corridor and head northwest across southeast Minnesota to follow the prairie-hardwood transition zone enroute to their breeding grounds to the north. The relatively large size of Lake Byllesby with its associated extensive mudflats and shallow areas provide important resting and feeding habitat that is in very short supply in this region of the state. The site contains an assemblage of species characteristic of shallow wetland and alluvial mudflat habitat type. This includes: 31 (78%) of Minnesota's 40 recorded shorebird species; 30 (70%) of Minnesota's 43 recorded waterfowl species; Common, Forster's, Caspian, and Black Tern; American White Pelican, and others.
The majority of Lake Maria IBA falls within the Big Woods Ecological Subsection and this IBA contains one of the few remaining stands of the Big Woods left in Central MN. Located approximately 60 miles northwest of the Twin Cities and just west of Monticello this IBA includes one state park, 2 wildlife management areas, one county park, one county forest, and private lands within its boundaries. Over 200 species have been observed within the IBA, 10 of which are state listed species including the Trumpeter Swan, Wilson's Phalarope and Common Tern.
20,567 acres located in Todd and Douglas counties in west-central Minnesota, includes Lake Osakis (6,269 acres), its shoreline, and surrounding upland areas to the north and south, which include many smaller lakes and wetlands. Lake Osakis is one of Minnesota's most famous birding lakes, supporting major breeding populations of several important nongame bird species that are not well represented elsewhere in the state. It has the largest breeding population of western grebes in the state. Red-necked grebes and a few Clark's grebes have also been documented. Historically, one of Minnesota's largest colonies of Forster's terns a species of special concern in the state, was also documented at Lake Osakis.
Lake of the Woods is the largest lake in Minnesota, although most of the lake is in Canada. The areas included within the IBA are the entire lake (United State portion), all the islands (approximately 25 in number), and the open wetlands (sedge, cattails, etc) immediately adjoining the lake. All of Zippel Bay State Park, Garden Island State Recreation Area, Pine and Curry Island Scientific and Natural Area, and Larry Bernhoft, Rocky Point, South Shore, and Border Wildlife Management Areas are included in the IBA. Parts of the Canadian side of the lake have been identified as an Important Bird Area (ON 144). Lake of the Woods is a large body of water attracting migrating waterfowl in both spring and fall. Historically tens of thousands of Lesser and Greater Scaup have migrated through the area. Lesser numbers of teal, American Widgeon, Pintails, and mergansers can also be observed during periods of migration with some local nesting. In recent years, the numbers of Canada Geese have been on the increase. Numerous raptors can be observed along the shores of Lake of the Woods as they skirt the large lake and travel along mainland corridors Pine and Curry Islands, Garden Island and the sandy beaches of the Northwest Angle may be the last areas where the Piping Plover can find adequate breeding localities in the state. Garden Island, with its large sandbars and beaches is a major stop over spot for many migrating shorebirds.
The IBA includes, but is not limited to; Fort Snelling State Park, Minnesota River Valley NWR, Black Dog Lake and the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area. It regularly supports 50,000 waterfowl through spring and fall migration including 20 duck species. Over 260 species of birds have been recorded here, at least 100 of which are known to nest.
Located northeast and southwest of the city of McGregor in Aitkin County this IBA is best known for fall ring-necked duck migration, the area also has American bittern, yellow rail, sora, black tern, Sandhill crane, 12 species of nesting warblers, trumpeter swan, bald eagle, American woodcock, wood thrush, black-billed cuckoo, LeConte's sparrow and bobolink.
The Mille Lacs IBA includes the entire water body and islands (Spirit and Hennepin) of Lake Mille Lacs, the surrounding shoreline, and significant areas adjacent to the lake. The IBA is located about 100 miles north of the Twin Cities in counties of Mille Lacs, Aitkin and Crow Wing. Lake Mille Lacs has a surface area of 207 square miles (132,500 surface acres) and is Minnesota's second-largest lake. The total IBA area is 239,586 acres. Significant lands within the IBA boundaries include two state parks (Mille Lacs Kathio and Father Hennepin), the Lake Mille Lacs Indian Reservation, state forestry lands, six wildlife management areas, and county forestry lands (Crow Wing and Aitkin). Spirit and Hennepin islands comprise the Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, the smallest National Wildlife Refuge in the country. The Mille Lacs IBA is especially important for the Common Terns nesting on Hennepin Island, as a fall staging area for Common Loons and Bonaparte's Gulls, for Red-shouldered Hawks that nest in the hardwood forest on the west side of the lake, for Bald Eagle nest sites, and during migration, for a variety of waterfowl, gulls, marsh birds, and passerines. Of the 231 species of birds recorded for this IBA, there are 62 Species of Greatest Conservation Need that have been documented.
The Minneapolis Chain of Lakes/Theodore Wirth Park IBA includes the five lakes which comprise the Minneapolis' Chain of Lakes; Cedar Lake (173 acres), Lake of the Isles (118 a), Lake Calhoun (422 a), Lake Harriet (343 a) and Brownie Lake, the Thomas Robert's Bird Sanctuary and Lakeview Cemetery, along with Theodore Wirth Park including the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, the Quaking Bog, Birch Pond, Wirth Lake, the Basset's Creek pools and the JD Rivers' Children's Garden. The area is approximately 1-3 miles west and southwest of downtown Minneapolis, most of the land is owned and managed by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board and surrounded primarily by residential neighborhoods.
The Mississippi River - Lake Pepin Important Bird Area runs along the Mississippi River from Red Wing to Read's Landing through Goodhue and Wabasha counties. It includes Frontenac State Park, Perched Valley WMA, Bald Eagle SNA and Hok Si La Park. This area is one of the most notable and significant birding areas and provides some of the best bird habitat in the State of Minnesota especially for migrant birds. Between 20 and 30 species of migrant warblers can be found annually. Bald Eagles nest, migrate, and winter within this IBA. Two to three hundred eagles use this IBA on a daily basis from November to March. The world's largest migration concentration of Common Mergansers occurs on Lake Pepin during the month of November with over 70,000 counted on one day. Large concentrations of other species of waterfowl, Ring-billed Gulls and Herring Gulls are found with the flocks of mergansers.
This IBA includes the Mississippi River and adjacent floodplain forest and uplands extending for 38 river miles from Minneapolis to Hastings. It is situated along the migratory corridor for 40% of North America's waterfowl, and shorebirds, loons, cormorants, gulls, terns, herons, egrets, pelicans, coots, grebes, and other species can be found. A mixed species heron rookery, 8 pairs of bald eagles and 6-8 pairs of peregrine falcons occur in the IBA.
Located about 18 miles south of downtown Minneapolis in Scott County this IBA is home to 85-90 species that breed regularly including common loons, ospreys, bobolinks and Henslow's sparrows. It supports the only known regular breeding population of Hooded Warblers in Minnesota and some of the state's highest concentrations of Acadian flycatchers and cerulean warblers.
This Important Bird Area includes the Mississippi River and its adjacent floodplain forest and uplands extending 27 river miles from the Washington Avenue Bridge adjoining the Mississippi River Twin Cities Important Bird Area in Minneapolis to the mouth of the Crow River in Hennepin County. For the most part, the other boundaries of this Important Bird Area are congruent with the boundary of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. It also includes the Elm Creek Regional Trail, Elm Creek Park Reserve and the Rice Creek corridor, in New Brighton (Ramsey County). This IBA lies within an area that has a very high population density and an area that is one of the fastest growing areas in the Twin Cities area. This IBA affords the public numerous sites to view birds from the many parks and other public access points along the River. There are 13 city parks along the river and all provide good views of birds; that is in addition to the 6 boat launches and 4 canoe access points; and 4 regional parks. Lying within the Mississippi Flyway this IBA is important for waterfowl, other waterbirds, raptors, and Neotropical migrants. The Mississippi River is one of the great bird flyways in the world. This is the migratory corridor for 40% of North America's waterfowl and shorebirds. A total of 234 species, compiled by various sources, has been documented in this IBA. There are four known heron rookery sites within this IBA. There are scores of double-crested cormorants that roost on islands in the Mississippi River between Coon Creek and the Coon Rapids Dam in the spring during migration. Species of Conservation Concern that use this IBA include Trumpeter Swan, Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle, American White Pelican, Horned Grebe, Red-shouldered Hawk and Forster's Tern.
Nine discrete locations along Lake Superior, representing 70% of the natural Peregrine Falcon nest sites recorded in Minnesota.
The Northland Arboretum IBA is located on the north side of Brainerd behind the Westgate Mall and is bordered on the west by the Paul Bunyan Trail. This 634 acre site encompasses land officially designated as the Northland Arboretum (including 160+ acres of The Nature Conservancy) plus state land managed by DNR Fisheries (118 acres) and approximately 80 acres owned and managed by Crow Wing County. The Northland Arboretum IBA is important for birds because it is green space in a rapidly developing city, with a total bird species list of 136, including 24 vireos and warblers, and 53 likely breeders. This site also has a mosaic of habitats including grasslands and restored prairie, jack pine forest, wetlands, a stream, shrub bog and of special importance, a 200-acre jack pine savanna.
Pigeon Lake IBA is located in southeastern Meeker County and includes Pigeon Lake and the surrounding ponds and wetlands. This site has been a significant rookery for Double-crested Cormorants, American White Pelicans, and Great Egrets since before the mid-1960's. A Bald Eagle nest is located just to the east of this IBA.
The Prairie Coteau Complex IBA consists of six separate areas lying within the Prairie Pothole and Eastern Tallgrass Prairie Bird Conservation Regions. The six areas that make up the IBA, while not contiguous, are ecologically similar and emphasize the remaining prairie and grassland bird habitat in a landscape that is quite fractured and dominated by agriculture. This IBA hosts a number of species of conservation concern including: Henslow's Sparrow, Burrowing Owl (rare) and Chestnut-collared Longspur (endangered); Horned Grebe, Wilson's Phalarope and Loggerhead Shrike (threatened); and Marbled Godwit, Franklin's Gull, Forster's Tern, Short-eared Owl, and Nelson's Sparrow (species of special concern). In total, 251 species have been observed here including 71 Species of Greatest Conservation Need.
The Rothsay Prairie area is located approximately 4 miles west of Rothsay, Minnesota in Wilkin County within the Red River Prairie ecological subsection of Minnesota. Several habitat features including wetlands, sedge meadows, prairie wetlands, tall grass prairie, aspen clones and agricultural lands make up this IBA. This IBA is most noted for its Greater Prairie-chickens but a total of 111 bird species have been seen there including 37 species of conservation concern.
Salt Lake is the only alkaline lake in the state of MN (it is 1/3 as salty as sea water) and as such, attracts a remarkable variety of birds. Located in Lac Qui Parle County, 3 miles south of Marietta, this 312 acre lake is one of the state's top birding spots, supporting a large diversity of shorebirds and waterfowl. A total of 141 species have been observed at Salt Lake IBA, including 37 Species of Greatest Conservation Need and 3 Minnesota State Listed Species; the Wilson's Phalarope, Forster's Tern and Short-eared Owl. Each spring and fall, the lake attracts large flocks of waterfowl, shorebirds and waterbirds including American Golden-plovers, Piping Plovers, Marbled Godwits, Willets, and Wilson's Phalaropes all of which are typically found feeding in the exposed mudflats. Twenty-one species of waterfowl have been observed here during migration.
Located northwest of Duluth, this IBA is world famous as a wintering site for great gray, boreal, and hawk owls, and is important to a host of other boreal forest birds.
Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge is located in east-central Minnesota in Sherburne County less than 1 hours drive from the Twin Cities. The IBA consists of 30,700 contiguous acres of land and water that is federally owned, protected, and managed for the conservation of wildlife. The diverse mixture of wetland, woodland, riverine and grassland habitats on the refuge support over 230 species of birds, over half of which have been documented as breeding here. Visitor facilities for viewing birds are comprised of a 7.3 mile automobile tour route, the Mahnomen and Blue Hill hiking trails. Twenty-four species of waterfowl use this IBA with fall migration counts of over 50,000 individuals annually. Sandhill Cranes, Bald Eagles, and a variety of oak savannah species are also found in large numbers.
The St. Croix Lake Important Bird Area is located east/southeast of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, along the eastern border of Minnesota. It is an important migration corridor for significant numbers of migrating raptors and waterbirds and open water on the river attracts wintering Bald Eagles and waterfowl. Its location and variety of habitats result in great species diversity with 268 birds documented within the IBA boundaries.
This IBA is located northeast of Minneapolis/St. Paul on the eastern border of Minnesota along the Saint Croix River. It extends roughly 24 miles north from the Xcel Energy hydroelectric dam at Taylor's Falls, MN, to the northern edge of Wild River State Park in Chisago County, MN. This IBA has an exceptional diversity of birds and is important to Red-shouldered Hawks, Bald Eagles, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Trumpeter Swans.
Located west and northwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul on the eastern border of Minnesota along the St. Croix River, extending 25 miles north from Stillwater to Taylor's Falls this IBA is home to two great blue heron colonies, with a combined total of 534 nests, 11 pairs of bald eagles, red-shouldered hawks, Louisiana waterthrushes, and Prothonotary warblers.
Located in Northeastern Minnesota, The St. Louis River Estuary and Minnesota Point IBA is a freshwater ecosystem that is one of the largest tributaries draining into Lake Superior. The IBA contains an extensive riverine system with numerous bays, wetlands, and forested areas along its adjacent shoreline. This IBA is a migratory stopover for 31 species of waterfowl and 27 species of shorebirds along with large numbers of waterbirds, raptors, and songbirds that move along the western shore of Lake Superior.
The Superior National Forest IBA located in northeastern Minnesota, is a mosaic of eight basic forest communities varying from upland pine and aspen-birch types to lowland conifer and open shrub bog. This IBA is 85% forested and only 3% developed so it constitutes the largest unfragmented area of native vegetation in the state. Over 227 bird species have been documented within this IBA, 162 of which are document as breeders including 24 breeding species of warbler which is 77 % of the 31 warblers presumed to breed annually in the state of Minnesota. This IBA also contains bird species assemblages characteristic of unique habitat types including conifer swamps and upland deciduous forests.
Swan Lake IBA includes the 10,000 acre Swan Lake, as well as three smaller lakes; Mud Lake, Middle Lake and Little Lake. In addition to the lakes, the IBA is interspersed with grasslands, marshes and swamps. Swan Lake is the largest prairie pothole type wetland in the US, and is designated as a wildlife lake by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Swan Lake IBA is a great birding spot year-round. Approximately 191 species have been documented including 24 species of shorebirds. In the summer there is a large breeding colony of Red-necked, Eared and Western Grebes. The lake is also home to a Black-crowned Night Heron rookery and hosts a breeding population of Least Bitterns as well as Forster's and Black Terns. Swamp Sparrows and Marsh Wrens are also common here. In spring, just about all the waterfowl usually found in southwestern MN occur here including a few rare occasional visitors.
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge Important Bird Area is located in Becker County, in NW Minnesota, 55 miles east of Fargo, North Dakota, and 18 miles NE of Detroit Lakes, MN. This IBA is predominantly based on the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge boundary and also includes 3 Wildlife Management Areas immediately south of the refuge. This IBA is in the forest/hardwood transition zone, with the majority located in the Laurentian Mixed Forest province; a small portion in the west edge is located in the Eastern Broadleaf Forest subsection. The topography consists of rolling forested hills interspersed with several small lakes, marshes, bogs and shrub swamps. The Egg, Buffalo, and Otter Tail Rivers originate in or flow through this IBA. Upland forested habitats are varied, ranging from mature northern hardwoods, to young aspen forests, lowland conifer swamps, upland coniferous forests, small wetland meadows, and mixed forests. Two hundred forty two species of birds have been recorded within the boundaries of the IBA; 150 have breeding records. This IBA is known for supporting a wide variety of waterfowl and in1987, the refuge served as a nucleus for release of Trumpeter Swans.
Thief Lake IBA encompasses an extensive area of aspen parkland landscape in Roseau and Marshall counties in northwestern Minnesota, approximately 300 miles northwest of the Twin Cities. Thief Lake provides very important habitat for waterfowl and other wetland birds - particularly colonial waterbirds. Due to the remote location of this area further bird surveys are needed to fully document population numbers within this IBA.
The Twin Valley - Neal Prairie IBA is located in the Red River Valley in Norman County along the Minnesota - North Dakota Border. It is an important site for prairie-chickens with numerous booming grounds located in the mix of state and private lands that make up this IBA.
This IBA consists of the Minnesota River Valley (hereafter the Valley) extending from the City of Le Sueur in the northeast to Lac Qui Parle Lake on the west. The Upper Minnesota River Valley IBA contains significant bird habitat in an intensely agriculture area. Mono-cultures of corn and soybean extend for hundreds of miles in all directions from the IBA boundaries. In such an intensely farmed area, the river valley corridor provides the only prime bird habitat in this part of Minnesota. The valley is also a natural corridor for migrating birds such as vireos, waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and passerine species such as warblers, thrushes, flycatchers and sparrows.
The Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge IBA follows the purchase boundaries of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge from the Minnesota-Iowa border at river mile 674 upstream along the Mississippi River to Reads Landing, MN (river mile 763.5). The IBA includes Pools 4, 5, 5a, 6, 7, 8, and part of 9 (in refuge Districts Winona, La Crosse and McGregor). It is an important site for migrating waterfowl (over 600,000 in one day in fall 2005), particularly Canvasbacks (over 50% of North American population); Tundra Swans (over 20% of Eastern North American population); nesting waterbirds, and breeding and wintering Bald Eagles.
Located at the junction of the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, the Vermillion Bottoms - Lower Cannon River IBA is a critical migratory corridor for waterfowl, forest songbirds, raptors, and waterbirds. This IBA is one of the top four sites in the state for rare forest birds. It has the highest numbers of two special concern bird species in southeast Minnesota: red-shouldered hawks and cerulean warblers. It also provides important nesting and/or migratory habitat for peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and Acadian flycatchers, and includes a bald eagle winter roost site and two colonial nesting sites for great blue herons and great egrets. The Minnesota County Biological Survey has documented 14 birds of conservation concern in the site. In addition, peregrine falcons nest in nest-boxes nearby and use the area for feeding. A total of 153 bird species have been recorded breeding or migrating through the area. Nomination form
The Voyageurs Kabetogama IBA is located in Koochiching County just east of International Falls, approximately 140 miles northwest of Duluth Minnesota. This IBA can be accessed from the west via Minnesota Highway 11 or from the south via Hwy 53. The Voyageurs Kabetogama IBA is comprised of state, federal and public lands, including one National Park, state forest lands, two state Scientific Natural Areas, and one state Wildlife Management Area. Major vegetation types present within this IBA include fire-dependent mixed pine and boreal forests, mesic hardwoods, floodplain forest, and rich peatland forests. Other major vegetation types include open acid peatlands, marshes, wet meadows, and shrub/carr environments. These systems combined with rock outcrop, lakeshore and river-shore systems provide environments that attract a rich diversity of bird life.
Waubun Marsh is an 8,724 acre complex of wetlands and mesic prairie located in southern Mahnomen and northern Becker counties. A mix of federal and state managed units protect much of this area which is one of the most contiguous prairie wetlands in the western part of Minnesota. A number of rare birds can be found here including Horned Grebes, Wilson's Phalarope, Marbled Godwit, Yellow Rails and Greater Prairie Chicken. Typical prairie species found here include Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, Savannah Sparrow, and Bobolink.
242 species use the valleys for migration and breeding including 25 species of waterfowl, 22 species of shorebirds, 31 species of warblers and 17 species of sparrows. Up to 100 Bald Eagles use the valley as a migration stopover site or a winter roost site. This IBA is located in Winona County in southeastern Minnesota approximately 25 miles east of Rochester.