Birding is a hobby you can take with you anywhere. Even some of the coldest, most remote places in the world have various types of birds that live or migrate there seasonally. It’s a hobby you can bundle into two: hiking and birding, boating and birding, four-wheeling and birding, to name a few. If you’re outside, look to the sky and listen carefully. This hobby changes with the seasons, bringing new species of birds to new locations for an array of colors, sizes, and sounds.
At Rainy Lake, it’s easy to slow down and notice the sounds and sights you might otherwise miss. The warmer temperatures in the spring mean birds that migrate south return to mate, nest, and settle in for a beautiful summer. With more bird activity and a greater chance to see rare birds that are out to socialize, April is a great time to hone your birding technique. Grab a pair of binoculars, get outside, and look or listen for a few of our favorites.
We’ve named just a few common spring-time birds here at Rainy Lake, but consider taking our birding challenge and download a printable list of birds you can scout for next time you’re outside. Want to encourage birds to visit your yard? Check out these tips from Minnesota DNR for bird feeding in the spring!
Rainy Lake: Spring Grouse
While hunting grouse in the fall is the most popular of small game hunting activities in Minnesota, there is another way to experience the elusive bird in the Spring. Between mid April and the end of May grouse perform their mating ritual referred to as "drumming." It's when the male grouse shows off his stuff by standing on a fallen log and flaps his wings vigorously which makes a distinctive sound that can be heard by humans and the female grouse as well. Hiking trails in the Rainy Lake area near International Falls have abundant places where the grouse can be heard. While their feathers blend into the woods around them, making them almost invisible, their drumming reveals their whereabouts. Hunters can note these locations for better success in the fall and nature lovers can enjoy the effort of catching site of a male doing his best to attract a mate. This is hiking with a purpose. Maps of hiking trails can be obtained at area lodges as well as the Voyageurs National Park.
Birds can make the winter season more entertaining; the snow is a pleasant backdrop to their flights of fancy. Providing food for birds will bring them to your yard, and it will aid in the birds' survival.
Chickadees and cardinals are permanent residents. Winter visitors of boreal regions are unpredictable.
Species that fly far from their normal ranges to find food:
Winter Bird Feeding: large seeds, small seeds, and suet.
Birds that enjoy sunflower seeds:
Peanuts are enjoyed by:
Seeds and mixes
Millet is enjoyed by:
Suet in winter offers an energy boost to birds when they need it most.
Use onion sacks, wire mesh feeders or placed on open platforms.
Peanut butter may be smeared on pine cones for a yummy treat!
Use a heating element to keep water from freezing. Bird baths with heating elements can be found at bird-feeding supply stores.
Keep feeders closer to the windows to prevent collisions. Reducing the gap makes it harder for birds to build up speed.