A bald eagle soars in a brilliant blue sky.

Northwest Passage LTD/Devante

The St. Croix and Namekagon rivers serve as an "ecological corridor" supporting a superb richness of habitats for birds. Here are some reasons why.

Biological Communities Converge Here

Three major communities—the northern coniferous forest, the eastern deciduous forest, and pockets of prairie—overlap and intertwine along the Riverway. The topography and wet and dry riverine areas, plus relatively unbroken stretches of riverside forests, make this an important refuge for birds and other animals.

There are a large number of birds whose range ends within the Riverway.
For example, the prothonotary warbler's northern range extends to the St. Croix Falls dam but rarely is this bird seen north of there. Many warbler species typical of northern coniferous forests are seen on the Namekagon River but are rarely seen except during migration on the southern reaches of the St. Croix.

The North-South Orientation of the Riverway

Birds follow natural river landmarks during spring and fall migration. Riverside forests are good places for many species to replenish themselves on their way north or south. River bluffs provide warm air currents or thermals providing advantages for soaring migrants such as hawks, eagles, and vultures.

Neotropical species are the long distance migrants that spend Midwest winters in places south of the United States. Because of important connections between Costa Rican national parks on the Osa Peninsula and Upper Midwest national parks, including the Riverway, a "sister park" agreement exists to coordinate public awareness, education, and protection of these areas.

Two female common mergansers swim through lily pads.
Riverway Specialties

Some birds are drawn to the rivers. Learn about species you might see.

A small group of people look through binoculars at birds.
Birding Along the Rivers

There are many places to see birds throughout the year at the Riverway.

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    Tags: sister park

    Last updated: January 30, 2024

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    401 North Hamilton Street
    St. Croix Falls, WI 54024


    715 483-2274

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