Birders Flock to Lac qui Parle and Salt Lake

By Explore Minnesota

Bird perchLac qui Parle means the “lake that speaks”—with the sounds of birds. Lac qui Parle County, in southern Minnesota, is one of the top birding destinations in Minnesota. Two bodies of water, Salt Lake and Lac qui Parle, offer exceptional opportunities in spring to spot hundreds of species of birds.

At Lac qui Parle, part of the broader Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area, spring migratory journeys bring golden plovers, snow geese, wood ducks and tundra swans. Bald eagles are sighted in the spring, and some nest here. As many as 10,000 pelicans nest at Lac qui Parle.

About an hour’s drive from Lac qui Parle, the shallow, alkaline waters of Salt Lake attract spring waterfowl and shorebirds such as willets, piping plovers and sandpipers to feast on pondweed and brine shrimp. Salt Lake is one of the few Minnesota habitats where the American avocet nests.

In late April, birders celebrate spring migration at the annual Salt Lake Birding Weekend. Typically, birdwatchers see more than 130 species. Snowy egrets, rare in Minnesota, are regularly sighted here. Other past highlights include sightings of American golden-plovers, American pipits, winnowing Wilson's snipe, marbled godwits and horned grebes. In the months following migration, birders at Salt Lake might find eared grebes, American white pelicans, tundra swans and other summer birds.