Minnesota Vacation
16-23 July 2008
 by Henry Detwiler

Suzanne, the girls, and I spent a week in northern Minnesota visiting relatives and some of the numerous natural areas.

118 species seen  Click here for bird checklist.
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos. border  

THURSDAY & FRIDAY, July 17-18, 2008

We arrived in Minneapolis on Wednesday afternoon and drove straight north to Moorhead, where Suzanne's sister and brother, and their families live. Over the next couple of days we visited with them and explored several state parks and a wildlife refuge. The green prairies and forests made a striking contract to the Yuma desert.

Cecily, Andy, Suzanne, Gaby, and Jamie



The prairies at Buffalo River State Park were a good place to see breeding Bobolinks, and wonderful display of showy wildflowers.


Adam and I drove over to Tamarac NWR one morning and among the deer flies and mosquitoes, found a number of forest and water birds. Breeding Tundra Swans were the biggest treat, some of which had broods of swanlets in tow. Catbirds could be heard mewing in many of the thickets.

gray catbird
Gray Catbird

american redstart
American Redstart

A bird feeding station at the refuge visitor center attracted chickadees, goldfinches, and Purple Finches.

The American Redstart was the most commonly encountered wood warbler, and would readily defend its territory from the huge, two-legged, pishing intruders.

black-backed chickadee
Black-capped Chickadee

American Goldfinch

pine siskin
Pine Siskin

SATURDAY, June 21, 2008

On the way north to visit Suzanne's folks, we stopped at Itasca State Park to look at the source of the Mississippi River. While the girls hiked downstream in the river I got some nice looks at Mourning and Chestnut-sided Warblers. Later we saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker feeding young.

chestnut-sided warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler

LeConte's Sparrow
LeConte's Sparrow

Almost all of the wet fields in the area had Common Yellowthroat and Song Sparrows. And many of the fields also had this little songster lurking in them, with its harsh calls and songs.
Al and Lurline (Suzanne's folks) live about an hour north of Bemidji, close to Upper Red Lake. The next morning Adam, Suzanne, and I hiked some of the local dirt roads in search of grouse and other birds. We were happy to find singing LeConte's Sparrows, flycatchers, warblers, and a beautiful White-winged Crossbill.

sedge wren
Sedge Wren

SUNDAY-TUESDAY, July 20-22, 2008

black-billed cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo

Sunday morning was really foggy, and this cuckoo looked lost sitting on one of Al's fence posts. It didn't even fly away until I got out of the car and snapped off a few pics. Later, once the sun had burned off some of the fog, this Veery came out to investigate my pishing.


At the Big Bog State Recreation Area Adam found us our only Lady's Slipper Orchid. Along the bog boardwalk we were pleased to find a number of carnivorous pitcher plants, sundews, Palm Warblers, and Hermit Thrushes.

lady's slipper orchic
Pink Lady's Slipper Orchid

pitcher plant
Pitcher Plants

At Bemidji State Park we saw this handsome singing White-throated Sparrow and another kind of fancy orchid.

white-throated sparrow
White-throated Sparrow


On the way back to Minneapolis we saw lots more lakes, Tundra Swans, Red-necked Grebes, and beautiful scenery. We flew home on Wednesday, back to our nice warm desert.

Minnesota Sunset

About Us | Site Map | Advertising | Contact Us | ©2007 Southwest Birders