Birding On the Prairie


CURE members were in attendance at the 41st annual Salt Lake Birding Weekend in southwestern Minnesota this past weekend.  Near 100 avid birders drove in from around the region for this amazing rite of spring on the prairie. There were guided tours for birders around Salt Lake, Big Stone Refuge, the lakes, wetlands and native prairies in Lac qui Parle, northern Yellow Medicine and southern Big Stone Counties. Birders had the opportunity to see over 140 different species of birds. 


Salt Lake, is located on the border of Minnesota and South Dakota in Lac qui Parle County and is Minnesota’s only alkaline wetland.  The water in Salt Lake is one-third as salty as sea water. While it is not the largest lake in the region, this oasis for water birds in western Minnesota is recognized by the State as a site with “outstanding biological diversity” and one of the state’s top birding spots, according to the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union. Many of the shorebirds, waterfowl and other water birds stop here to rest and eat while making their way to northern breeding grounds.


Miller Lake in Yellow Medicine County is known for near 20 species of shorebirds and generally has the most variety and quantity of any one body of water.  Waterfowl were abundant with over two dozen identified species including Tundra and Trumpeter Swans and dancing Western Grebes at Salt Lake.  Other rarities include an early Black Tern, Cattle Egret, Ross’s Goose, Prairie and Peregrine Falcon and Pileated Woodpeckers. This event is sponsored by the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union and Prairie Marsh Farm has been a gathering place for many of the years this event has happened.

Special thanks to CURE member David Fluegel for the photos of the weekend