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Festival Of Birds in Detroit Lakes Minnesota

May 15-18, 2014

You don't want to waste any time in birders' paradise - Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. More than 250 species of birds live in Becker County. Why? Because the Detroit Lakes area is in the heart of a transition zone of tall grass prairie, northern hardwood and coniferous ecosystems. Serious birders flock here each spring for the annual Detroit Lakes Festival of Birds.

Circle your calendars for the 18th annual Festival of Birds May 14-17, 2015. Watch for updates! 

The 17th annual Festival of Birds was held May 15-18, 2014. The festival was kicked off by observing the Passenger Pigeon Centennial with author Joel Greenberg at Maplelag Resort on May 15. Attendees learned how 3-5 billion birds were brought to extinction in a few decades by human exploitation. 

A festival favorite - Carrol Henderson, shared Wildlife Photography tips in his workshop Thursday, May 15 at Maplelag Resort. Henderson also was a field trip leader for the youth trip on Friday and Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge trip on Saturday. Middle school students on Friday were treated to Henderson's Trumpeter Swan presentation. 

What was Minnesota like for the father of MN ornithology, Thomas Sadler Roberts (1858–1946) during his life in bird work? Author Sue Leaf shared this bird lover's contributions from the first full biography of Roberts, A Love Affair with Birds: The Life of Thomas Sadler Roberts. 

Where do Bobolinks migrate to after they leave our grasslands in the summer? Dr. Rosalind Renfrew explained the distance these birds fly and helped us understand the other side of their life in her presentation "The double life of the Bobolink: A new Conservation Paradigm."

Festival attendees throughout the years have learned much about birds, wildlife and the environment through presenters such as John Fitzpatrick, John Marzluff, 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 and Jeb Barzen.

The busload of birders on the fieldtrip to Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge on Friday, May 16 was treated to a Sora Rail that walked the entire length of the bus on marsh reeds in ditch water. At the first stop at Hamden Slough, birders delighted in booming Greater Prairie Chickens on both sides of the road, a pair of preening Sandhill Cranes and singing Bobolinks. As the temps warmed up on Saturday, 17 species of warblers and 10 species of sparrows were seen at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. Birders were thrilled to see a Red-headed Woodpecker and six other woodpecker species on the Rainbow Resort/Waubun Forest fieldtrip Saturday, as well as Eaurasian collared Doves. Sunday, May 18 temps soared to the 70s and produced 108 species on the Felton and Syre Prairies fieldtrip. Standout species were the Chestnut-collared Longspur, 13 warbler species, Black-bellied and American Golden Plovers, Short-billed Dowitchers, Marbled and Hudsonian Godwits. Each field trip was lead by birding experts and a naturalist. See checklists below.

If you would like to receive the May 14-17, 2015 Festival of Birds program and are not on the current mailing list, please contact us at or call toll free 800.542.3992.

Enjoy our small town hospitality while in Detroit Lakes, including several lodging options and wallet-friendly lodging specials.

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 and see you at the 18th annual Festival of Birds May 14-17, 2015!