Bird Watching at the Arboretum
Northland Arboretum & Audubon Minnesota
The Northland Arboretum is one of 54 locations that are designated as an IBA (Important Birding Area) by the Minnesota Audubon Society.
What is an Important Bird Area?
Important Bird Areas (IBAs) provide essential habitat for one or more breeding, wintering, and/or migrating bird species. The IBA program is designed to be proactive, voluntary, participatory, science-based and works to identify, monitor and conserve the most essential habitats for birds.
Why an Important Bird Area Program?
Increasing land use pressures from urban sprawl, agricultural and forestry practices, and outdoor recreation threaten to diminish both the quantity and quality of critical bird habitat throughout the state.
Minnesotans have long expressed a widespread interest in the birds of our state, yet despite this interest, there has never been an effort to systematically identify and protect the habitats most crucial to the long-term survival of Minnesota's native bird populations.
IBAs serve as a catalyst for involving Audubon members and for informing the public about those areas most critical for the long-term survival of birds. These areas are an important tool for prioritizing land use options for national, state, and local land managers. Improved decision making regarding land use options will help ensure the long-term health of both common and uncommon bird species.
IBAs are international in scope. BirdLife International conceived and initiated the IBA program in Europe in 1981. Since then, more than 7,500 sites, in 170 countries, have been identified as IBAs. In 1995 the National Audubon Society became the officially designated U.S. partner of Birdlife International for the purpose of implementing the IBA program. Currently, efforts are underway in 46 states to identify IBAs, resulting in the official identification of more than 1,800 U.S. sites to date.
Audubon Minnesota, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Nongame Program, began implementing the IBA program in Minnesota in February 2003. An IBA Technical Committee was formed, comprised of numerous bird experts and conservationists from Audubon, other birding groups, and federal and state agencies.
The Technical Committee has established State-specific criteria and a nomination form for the Minnesota IBA program and evaluates sites for IBA identification. In Minnesota, over 225 IBAs have been suggested, 54 sites have been identified as IBAs, and more are under consideration.
The Northland Arboretum IBA
Located on the north side of Brainerd behind the Westgate Mall and is bordered on the west by the Paul Bunyan Trail. This 634 acre site encompasses land officially designated as the Northland Arboretum (including 160+ acres of The Nature Conservancy) plus state land managed by DNR Fisheries (118 acres) and approximately 80 acres owned and managed by Crow Wing County. The Northland Arboretum IBA is important for birds because it is green space in a rapidly developing city, with a total bird species list of 136, including 24 vireos and warblers, and 53 likely breeders. This site also has a mosaic of habitats including grasslands and restored prairie, jack pine forest, wetlands, a stream, shrub bog and of special importance, a 200-acre jack pine savanna.
If you want do do some birding here at the arboretum, you can download and print our Bird Checklist.