Becker: A haven for avians
Detroit Lakes' annual Festival of Birds attracts hundreds of visitors to the community each year.
Now in its ninth year, the festival will once again take place from May 18-21. The four-day schedule will include activities for youth and adults, birding enthusiasts and the merely curious.
Field trips, seminars, workshops demonstrations and even a "birder's bazaar" are all part of the planned festivities.
In addition to this increasingly popular annual festival, DL also boasts the Lakes Area Birding Club, not to mention the Pine to Prairie Bird Trail... why has Becker County become such a haven for avian enthusiasts?
The answer: It's all about location. According to Mike Murphy, Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge manager, three major biological communities, or ecosystems, all converge just north of Detroit Lakes, in the Callaway area.
"This includes the broadleaf (northern hardwood, or deciduous) forest, which comes from the eastern U.S. all the way up to just north of Detroit Lakes; then from around the Great Lakes, you have the pinelands (conifer forest), which comes all the way down to the White Earth area; and from the west, you have the prairie," Murphy explained.
Each of these ecosystems supports between 100-150 species of birds, and because all of them converge in this area, the Detroit Lakes area boasts an unusually wide variety of bird species.
"We probably have over 300 species of birds that come into Becker County," Murphy said. "But you have to know where to look for them."
For instance, the three-toed woodpecker is more likely to be found in Itasca State Park than Lake Park, he added.
The Pine to Prairie Birding Trail was born out of a real demand for maps that detailed the birding areas in the DL area.
This 230-mile-long trail, which stretches from Warroad to Roseau, Thief River Falls, Pelican Rapids and Fergus Falls as well as Detroit Lakes, boasts pine forests, deciduous woodlands, native tallgrass prairie, aspen parkland, sand dunes, calcareous fens, bogs, marshes, and lakes and rivers both large and small.
Murphy said the Forest Hills Golf Course is actually a point of demarcation between the deciduous (i.e., broadleaf) forests and the tall grass prairie.