Swan family with babies

Festival Of Birds in Detroit Lakes Minnesota

Detroit Lakes is nestled in the heart of a transition zone between tall grass prairie, northern
hardwood and conifer forest ecosystems. That means there are a lot of kinds of birds! Which, in turn, means a lot of serious birders flocking here each spring for the annual Festival of Birds.

The 23rd annual Festival of Birds is scheduled for May 20-22, 2021. Zoom into virtual sessions and get those binocs ready for a couple mornings in the field!

Thursday morning, May 20: Join our virtual presentation by Randy Kolka, Project Leader and Research Soil Scientist at the SPRUCE Climate Change Experiment. In the middle of
the U.S. Forest Service’s Marcell Experimental Forest north of Grand Rapids MN, is a one-of-
a-kind science experiment tucked away in a true bog. Scientists from around the world
are conducting research in ten temperature controlled greenhouses. Bogs comprise about
3 percent of the total land mass on earth, however they contain more than 30 percent of
the soil carbon. Below ground heating began in 2014, above ground heating in 2015, and elevated CO2 treatments started in 2016. Learn what the responses to warming and interactions with increased atmospheric CO2 concentration has on the atmosphere and climate.

Friday and Saturday mornings, May 21/22: Birding in the field. Registrants will drive to a location to socially distance bird prairie, wetlands and/or woodlands. Leaders will help locate key species.

Saturday evening, May 22: After a year-plus of pandemic inactivity, we all are due for a huge belly laugh! Al Batt is sure to please.

Please check back for registration details.

A total of 165 species were recorded during the 2019 festival. The field trip to North Ottawa lead the way with 108 species, followed by 104 at Hamden Slough and Tamarac National Wildlife Refuges on Friday. Windy, rainy weather slowed the count on Saturday, even so stops at Agassiz Refuge resulted in 97 species including looks at the Prothonotary Warbler! A total of 79 species were recorded at Blue Stem Prairie and Buffalo River.  

Festival attendees throughout the years have learned much about birds, wildlife and the environment through presenters such as John Fitzpatrick, John Marzluff, Joel Greenberg, Melissa Groo, Rosalind Renfrew, Sue Leaf, Drew Wheelan, Charlie Walcott, Richard Crossley, Scott Wiedensaul, David Sibley, Bill Thompson III, Laura Erickson, Don and Lillian Stokes, Kenn Kaufmann, Dr. Paul Johnsgard, Stan Tekiela, Dr. James Grier, Sharon Stiteler, Al Batt, Jeff Gordon, Joe Hautman, Jeb Barzen, Ernesto Reyes, Noah Strycker and Lyanda Haupt.

If you would like to receive future Festival of Birds programs and are not on the current mailing list, please contact us at dlchamber@VisitDetroitLakes.com or call toll free 800.542.3992. For updates, “like” us on facebook. See the list of recorded species below. Enjoy our small town hospitality while in Detroit Lakes, including several lodging options.

In recent years, birders have checked these species off their list: Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Rough-legged Hawk, Chestnut-collared Longspur, LeConte’s and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows, Rock Wren, Golden-winged and Northern Parula Warblers, Alder Flycatcher and Black-backed Woodpecker.

Any time of year, we welcome you to check out several sites along the Pine to Prairie International Birding Trail that are near Detroit Lakes. Download the Bird Checklist of 275 species along the trail below. For more birding opportunities in Minnesota, see the MOU website.

Everywhere you go in Detroit Lakes’ bird paradise, you’re guaranteed to see birds to check off your bird list. We welcome you to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Happy birding! 


May. 20, 2021

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