Bird Watching in Southwestern Minnesota

Bird Watching in Southwestern Minnesota

August 29th, 2012

The climate and terrain in Southwestern Minnesota makes this home to a number of  birding sites.  While the ideal time is during migration, birding in Redwood & Renville Counties are fruitful in all seasons.

Take in Cedar Mountain SNA **(Scientific and Natural Area)  a good place for wildlife and bird watching.  Spectacular for its scenery, rock outcrops and plant life, especially in August when the prairie is in bloom.  The SNA lies on bedrock and ridges that go back 3.4 billion years and it is here in Renville County along the Minnesota River, just 11 miles from the town of Redwood Falls.

Cedar Mountain WMA** (Wildlife Management Area) neighbors the Scientific Natural Area, and complements the SNA by providing additional prairie habitat.

**These are excellent birding areas. However, birder access can be difficult due to necessity of crossing the creek from the south or walking through the prairie restoration in the WMA on the east.  It is situated between Minnesota River and Wabasha Creek, so in the Spring it may be inaccessible due to high water.

Thirty acres of mesic woodland (Mesic soil is a medium type of soil a woodland that has both conifers and broadleaf trees ) lies immediately south of the SNA, and west of the SNA is a 133-acre complex of former cropland, 30 acres of which remains planted in a grain plot that provides winter food for resident wildlife. Sixty-seven acres have been seeded to a diverse mixture of prairie grasses and forbs, and the remainder of the property contains naturally-regenerating lowland hardwood forest, including silver maple and cottonwood.

Due to habitat diversity, 117 bird species have been recorded at this SNA. Although the WMA does not maintain a checklist, similar species would be found.

You are likely to spot:

  • Upland Sandpipers
  • Sedge Wrens
  • Blue Grosbeaks
  • Red-winged black birds
  • Canada Geese
  • Wood ducks
  • Blue-winged teal ducks
  • Woodpeckers
  • Doves
  • Red-tailed hawks
  • Northern cardinals
  • Eastern bluebirds
  • American goldfinches

Bald eagles have nested within about a mile of Cedar Mountain SNA/WMA, so keep on the lookout for flying and foraging eagles.

The Tatanka Bluffs Corridor also offers opportunities to experience Minnesota wildlife in its natural habitat. Observing wildlife is among the most affordable recreational activities, and the abundant wildlife in Redwood and Renville counties affords visitors ample opportunities to explore the natural world.  Click here to learn more!

Another great resource for birding information in MN is the Explore Minnesota Birding ReportClick here to learn more!

The Minnesota River Valley Birding Trail spans the Minnesota River watershed from its headwaters near the South Dakota border to its confluence with the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities. It promotes the beauty, wildlife, natural habitats, and recreational opportunities of this unique region. Click her to learn more!

How to find Cedar Mountain SNA/WMA:

Click Here for the MN DNR Map and Directions!

Franklin MN is located in Renville County, about 11 east of Redwood Falls on the other side of the Minnesota River.  To get to the SNA from Franklin, go 1.35 miles South on Co Rd 5 (becomes Co Rd 11 in Redwood County). Take minimum maintenance road W 0.5 miles, to parking area for Cedar Mountain WMA. Walk about a half-mile west from parking area along field road to SNA.  OR call Minnesota DNR Wildlife Manager in Redwood Falls at 507.637.4076.

The site is accessed from a parking area on the north side of Renville Co. Rd. 48. Wabasha Creek must be crossed on foot, which can be problematic during times of high water. There are no developed trails and the terrain is a bit rugged in places.

Enjoy and we look forward to seeing you on the birding trail!

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