Birding in the Brainerd Lakes

Photo of black and bright orange Baltimore Oriole bird sitting on a tree branch with blurred woods in the background
Baltimore Oriole, courtesy Judd Brink, MN Backyard Birds.

The Brainerd Lakes Area offers visitors a plethora of birdwatching opportunities. We caught up with Judd Brink, Owner and Guide at MN Backyard Birds, for some Q&A. He offers a few tips and tricks that will help maximize your birding experience!

Now that spring is here, what bird species that have made their back to the Brainerd Lakes?

The Brainerd Lakes Area is now seeing the peak of the spring bird migration! Many of our colorful birds have taken long flights from Central and South America—a difficult and challenging journey just to arrive here! Many of our lakes are home to our state bird the common loon, a sure sign of summer. The spring bird migration happens in stages starting in March through early June with May being the peak month. Just a few species that just arrived include orioles, hummingbirds, tanagers, warblers, hawks, eagles, and many of the waterbirds.

Where are the best places locally to see a variety of birds?

A few of the hotspots for wildlife viewing in the lakes area includes the Crow Wing State Park, Northland Arboretum (Important Bird Area), Rotary Park/Kiwanis Park, Crosslake Recreation Area, and the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway. 

Photo of large black, white, and orange Sharp-shinned Hawk bird sitting on a tree branch with blurred woods in the background
Sharp-shinned Hawk, courtesy Judd Brink, MN Backyard Birds.

What’s your favorite part of birding?

Birdwatching is the 2nd largest activity in the country! I have been birding for over 30 years, and I still love the challenge and the excitement in finding rare and or a new bird for my life list! Birding is just full of surprises you never know what you might see or photograph! I also have been guiding for over 15 years, and so it’s fun to share and teach others about birds.

How to get kids involved with birding?

I started in my own backyard when my parents had a few bird feeders. I think it’s important to get kids outside and let them explore and enjoy what nature teaches us. The Northland Arboretum offers summer nature camps for kids.

Photo of two large tan Sandhill Cranes walking through a swamp surrounded by cattails and water
Sandhill Crane, courtesy Judd Brink, MN Backyard Birds.

What are things you can do to increase your chances of seeing birds in your own yard?

MN Backyard Birds offers birdscaping to help attract and enjoy more colorful songbirds to your property!  We design “songbird sanctuaries” to increase the number and variety of colorful songbirds using only the best bird feeders and fresh seed. Planting native fruiting trees and shrubs, adding a water bath are just a few ways you can enjoy more birds at home.



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