In spirit with our upcoming Next Generation of Parks Event: Winter Birding 101 with Dudley Edmondson and Monica Bryand, we’re highlighting 5 local recreation areas that offer bird friendly viewing destinations. Bird feeding stations are great for increasing the likelihood that you’ll spot a bird this winter, but trails and other green spaces near water – especially open water in the winter – will always attract birds. So other places in Minneapolis you might explore include trails near the Mississippi River, Chain of Lakes, Wirth Park, Minnehaha Creek, and Shingle Creek.
Due to COVID pandemic conditions, park facilities are generally (but not always) closed to the public, so please plan accordingly. To learn about access to restroom facilities or potable water, check in advance on websites or by calling.
Parks with Bird Feeding Stations
North Mississippi Regional Park and Carl W. Kroening Interpretive Center
Like many other facilities, the Kroening Interpretive Center is closed, but the Minneapolis Park Board recently introduced Adventure Hubs here (and throughout the system) which provide supplies and materials for self-guided exploration. At Kroening, the Adventure Hub includes birding backpacks which can be checked out four days/week. Call 612-370-4844 for more information.
Elm Creek Park Reserve and Eastman Nature Center
While the Eastman Nature Center is currently closed to the public, staff are still maintaining the bird feeders behind the building. There are also more than 50 miles of trails throughout the park, including 12.7 miles for hiking. The park notes that hiking on groomed ski trails in the winter is not permitted. Visit their website (links above) for more information.
Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield
During regular hours, staff at Wood Lake Nature Center are maintaining the feeders behind the building, which are always busiest during a cold snap. Folks can also walk the trails (groomed ski trails are for skiing only, but there are snowshoe/hiking trails as well). As of this writing, rumor has it a great horned owl makes an appearance in the SE corner of the preserve. Check out their Birding Brochure for a list of regular winter and year-round species you might see.
Parks Without Bird Feeding Stations
Lower Phalen Creek Project, Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary and Swede Hollow
Best accessed from the parking lot 588 E 7th St, these two nature areas are the least developed of those on this list and do not currently have a public facility. Both are recognized “hot spots” for bird watching because of the proximity to water (the Mississippi River is nearby and Phalen Creek runs through these parks), as well as relatively protected spaces.
Washington County Parks: Lake Elmo Park Reserve
While you won’t find a highly visible bird feeding station here, you will find a blind, or more precisely two, on Lake Elmo’s Eagle Point trail. A bird blind is a shelter, often camouflaged, that is used to observe birds (and other wildlife) at close quarters. Also available in the office, which is open weekdays, are bird lists.
Featured image taken at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. Courtesy of MPRB.