Wildlife & Habitat

  • Canvasback


    The Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District was established for the production of waterfowl. Many species have declined with the plowing of prairie and draining of wetlands. However, the district acquires land and restores critical breeding habitat on Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) in hopes of sustaining populations for years to come. Common waterfowl nesting in the district include mallard, blue-winged teal, canvasback, trumpeter swan and Canada goose among others. You may also see redhead, ring-necked duck, northern pintail, green-winged teal, lesser scaup, and more on the WPAs. During early spring, male ducks sporting their breeding plumage are a sight to see; in the early  summer months look for broods during cooler times of the day; and district wetlands are teeming with waterfowl during spring and fall migration.

  • Upland Sandpiper

    Upland Sandpiper

    Grassland birds continue to decline at greater rates than other bird groups in North America. Many of those species are area-sensitive; meaning they need large blocks of continual grassland in order to breed successfully. One of those birds, the upland sandpiper, is a regional Bird of Conservation Concern. Upland sandpipers feed in shorter grass, while nesting in taller grass. Typically they respond positively to grazing and recently burned grasslands. The male performs a magnificent aerial display while making a call like a “wolf whistle” to attract a mate. Upland sandpipers love to perch and most often are observed and photographed sitting on wooden fence posts.

  • Prairie Fringed Orchid

    Fringed Orchid

    There is nothing more stunning than native prairie wildflowers. One of those beauties, the western prairie fringed orchid, is found in remnant wet prairies and sedge meadows. The orchid relies on one species, the hawkmoth, to transfer pollen between flowers and plants for successful reproduction. In turn, seed germination and plant growth is solely dependent on a relationship between a specialized soil fungus and the plants’ root system. However, these unique habits also make it vulnerable to threats. Prairie conversion, wetland filling, invasive plants and mismanagement resulted in listing this beautiful wildflower as a Federally Threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

  • Wetlands


    The prairie pothole region is characterized by numerous, shallow wetlands known as potholes. These wetlands provide essential wildlife habitat, permit ground water recharge, act as filters of sediment and pollutants, and reduce floods by storing water. Since settlement, over 90% of the wetlands that occurred in Minnesota’s portion of the prairie pothole region have been drained. Wetland complexes include a variety of basins, some shallow and some deep and provide wildlife habitat for a multitude of species.

  • Prairie


    Nearly 99% of the native tallgrass prairie has been lost to the plow and development in Minnesota. Grasslands provide shelter for birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects. Some grassland dependent birds require large tracts of grasslands to make their homes. Other ground nesting birds like waterfowl and songbirds need grasslands in which to build their nests.
    Prairie landscapes are exceptionally diverse. Some prairies contain more than 200 plant species. Due to a dense root system, prairie plants form sod that has a tremendous capacity to absorb run-off and rain water. The plants can take up chemicals and nutrients that are carried by run-off, thus filtering the water that flows through the grassland.  

  • Savanna

    Oak Savanah

    Savannas are mosaic communities with open, closed, and partially shaded areas and include both prairie and forest habitats. Oak savannas are fire-dependent and characterized by the presence of historic open-grown oaks and a high diversity forbes.
    The distribution of oak savanna throughout the Midwest was widespread before European settlement. This habitat once occupied as much as 30 million acres of the Midwestern landscape. Most oak savannas have been lost or degraded due to fire suppression and direct conversion to agriculture or other development. Today, only about 0.02% of pre-European oak savannas throughout the Midwest remain today in scattered remnants, ranking them among the rarest ecosystem in the United States.