A guide to Minnesota bird migration this fall

Examining nests
National Park Ranger Sharon Stiteler examines a great blue heron nest on the Mississippi River near the Riverside Power Plant in Minneapolis, Minn. Thursday, May 17, 2012.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Fall bird migration is underway as hundreds of species travel through Minnesota.

Many of the warblers are already gone, as are most hummingbirds. But the peak of the fall species shift continues until mid-November.

Sharon "Birdchick" Stiteler joined The Daily Circuit to talk about which birds you might see in the coming weeks.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

Species migrating right now

Sparrows are "off the charts" in Twin Cities, Stiteler said. Watch for the white-throated sparrow along the Midtown Greenway.

A Canvasback duck
A Canvasback duck December 21, 2011 at the Bronx Zoo in New York.


Stiteler said a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey from the Mississippi River's pool seven near Onalaska, Wis. reported 24,000 canvasback ducks, more than 7,900 ringed-neck ducks and more than 3,000 gadwall ducks.









Species migrating soon

Tundra swans

By early November, you can see thousands near Brownsville, Minn.

Tundra swan
Tundra swan

Yellow rumped warblers, also known as "butter butts"

Yellow-rumped warbler
A yellow-rumped warbler.
Photo copyright Roland Jordahl

Eagles stay along the Mississippi until the river freezes over.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
Carrol Henderson/Minnesota DNR

Staying the winter


Juncos spend the winter in Minnesota and can be several different shades of gray or brown. Look for these birds kicking around on the ground looking for millet near bushes or under bird feeders.

Black cap chickadees

Black-capped chickadee
A black-capped chickadee, Iona Beach Regional Park, Richmond, British Columbia.
Courtesy Alan D. Wilson / Wikimedia Commons

Pine siskins

Want to help track and count birds?

Stiteler recommends checking out eBird, the Great Backyard Bird Count, Christmas Bird Count.