We’re still enjoying these final warm days of summer, with endless days of hiking, biking, boating, and otherwise soaking up the sun. But Labor Day is just a few shorts weeks away, which means fall is soon to follow. But with fall comes incredible opportunities to witness Duluth’s fall foliage, along with some of the best birding in the state of Minnesota. Fall is a short season in Minnesota, though, with winter close on its heels. Fall bird watching is best done in September and October, but opportunities extend into November in certain places along the North Shore. Make your plans early, and book a room at our Minnesota Bed and Breakfast today.
The Best Fall Bird Watching Hotspots
The crisp, cool weather of fall means we say goodbye to the nesting songbirds that were visiting during the summer and brightening up our mornings. But it also means the birds that typically reside up on the North Shore, including dark-eyed juncos, are migrating back to the area. Fall is also the time when raptors take to the skies in their annual migration, making these months in Duluth a birdwatcher’s dream.
Nesting birds, such as swallows, nighthawks, orioles, and warblers begin their fall migration in early September, followed by most of the area’s raptors later in the month. By October, the sandhill cranes are migrating south, larger raptors are moving in, waterfowl are heading south to their breeding grounds, and the first of the winter finches arrive. Come November, keep an eye out primarily for snow buntings and northern owls,
Fall bird watching is great from a number of places in the Duluth area, but here are our favorite birding hotspots:
- The Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth is the best place to look for raptors migrating through the area. The hawk migration begins in mid-August, and lasts through December, with peak migration occurring between mid-September and late-October.
- Stoney Point and Sucker Bay are a popular place for raptors, woodpeckers, corvids, finches, and more. During peak migration, fall bird watching may even turn up some loons, grebes, Bald Eagles, and waterfowl, especially later in the season.
- Take a scenic drive along the North Shore Scenic Drive, and add some fall bird watching into your day.
- Many of the parks right in downtown Duluth make for excellent fall birdwatching, including Lester-Amity Park, Hartley Park, Bagley Nature Area at UMD, Mission Creek Park, Magney-Snively Natural Area, and Enger Park. The extensive deciduous forests in these areas provide habitat for a variety of migrating birds.
- The Congdon Park Nature Trail is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon and will reward bird watchers with plenty of migrant and wintering birds.
- Enjoy Duluth’s popular Canal Park neighborhood, as giant ships pull into Duluth’s harbor, all while taking in some fall bird watching. From here, you will enjoy a variety of gulls overhead, in addition to jaegers, loons, diving ducks and grebes in the water.
- Park Point Recreation Area is a delightful place for fall bird watching in Duluth. You’re likely to see a variety of birds here, including shorebirds, longspurs, pipits, plenty of songbirds in the wooded dunes area, raptors, merlins, kingbirds, waxwings, and more than 20 species of warblers. Hearding Island, just offshore of Park Point, is also a great bird watching destination.
- Mud Lake, a backwater portion of the St. Louis River, is the best place to go in search of waterfowl.
- You can enjoy a great day of hiking or mountain biking at Spirit Mountain Recreation Area, but it’s also an excellent place for fall bird watching.
Fuel up for your day of fall bird watching at our Duluth Bed and Breakfast, where made-from-scratch gourmet breakfasts are a part of the experience. Our 2-acres of extraordinarily landscaped gardens are a birders paradise in and of itself, but when you’re ready to see the sights, our knowledgeable innkeepers know just where to send you. Join us this fall at our luxury Duluth Bed and Breakfast.