Waterbird Ground Counts

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Fall Ground Counts

To better understand how birds use vulnerable habitats along the Mississippi River, the National Park Service staff and volunteers count waterbirds during the fall migration on Red Rock Lake in St. Paul, MN (map). The lake is surrounded by industry and is near a former landfill. Marsh and wetland habitats along the lake's shoreline provide food and shelter for birds as they migrate through the Mississippi Flyway.
Ground counts are taken from vantage points above Red Rock Lake using binoculars and a spotting scope. Survey data show trends in waterbird numbers and diversity. The data from these surveys help biologists and officials make decisions about habitat management.

Waterbird Ground Count Survey Summary (2014) (PDF; 98 KB)

Waterbird Species List (Red Rock Lake) (PDF; 13 KB)

Where to see migrating waterbirds

The Mississippi River is a great place to observe migrating birds. In the Twin Cities, fall migration runs from September through December and spring migration occurs from late February through May. Each species of waterbird has its own unique migration strategy and groups of birds arrive at different times. Some good places to see migrating waterbirds include Point Douglas Park (near Prescott, WI), Fort Snelling State Park (St. Paul, MN), or Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park (Coon Rapids, MN).


Last updated: December 27, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


(651) 293-0200
This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center. Please leave a voicemail if we miss your call and expect a return call within 1 day, often sooner.

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