Wildlife & Habitat

flock of geese

  • Trumpeter Swan

    trumpeter swan

    The trumpeter swan is a common sight throughout the breeding season in the Windom area. Trumpeter swans weigh more than any other native bird. They were endangered but now, due to captive breeding programs, they are once again doing well. More than 70 captive-bred swans have been released from the Wings of the Prairie Discovery Center during the annual Wings On The Prairie Nature Festival since 2002. Many have stayed local and now breed here.

  • Ducks


    Like most wetland management districts, the most notable type of bird found in the Windom Wetland Management District are ducks. During spring and fall migration, you will see a great variety ducks moving through, because they rely on wetlands for food and rest. During the breeding season, you are likely to see mallards, wood ducks and blue-winged teal. They need the combination of wetlands and grasslands to feed and raise their young.

  • Bald Eagle

    bald eagle

    The recovery of the bald eagle in America has been a great success story for wildlife management. From a low of only around 400 pairs in the early 1960’s, there are now estimated to be more than 10,000 breeding pairs today. Minnesota supports the highest population of nesting bald eagles in the lower 48 states. It has become a magnificent and common sight to see a bald eagle in the Windom Wetland Management District. During spring and fall migration, the eagles often follow the Des Moines River corridor, where the district visitor center is located. It is possible to see over a half-dozen eagles per day in the spring and fall at the visitor center. During the nesting season, there are many locations across the district that have nesting eagles and occasionally, some will remain in the area through the winter.

  • Tallgrass Prairie

    tallgrass prairie

    Early accounts of explorers and settlers described the tallgrass prairie as an open landscape which looked like an ocean of grass; there was even the appearance of waves as the wind blew the long stems.  Tallgrass prairie features native grasses and wildflowers that are  between three and six feet tall - including big bluestem, Indian grass and switch grass. Due to the deep, rich, fertile soil that supported this expanse of grass, the land was prime for growing crops. As a result, 99% of the tallgrass prairie in Minnesota is now gone. Our district strives to restore as much of that native prairie as possible on our waterfowl production areas. These grasslands offer shelter, seeds, and insects to nesting and young waterfowl.

  • Rock Outcroppings

    rock outcroppings

    Rock outcroppings are a unique feature in some of the western parts of the Windom Wetland Management District. Just north of Luverne, Minnesota is an area where the bedrock juts out of the ground with often thin topsoil over it. These rock outcroppings are intertwined with tallgrass prairie. The rock outcroppings provide micro-habitats used by specific species, such as the five-lined skink. The rocks also hold vernal (or seasonal) pools of water, used by local wildlife and home to many plants not often found in other parts of the prairie. Due to the rocky nature, much of this area was spared from the plow, but was utilized for grazing in the past and was often overgrazed, requiring careful management to bring it back. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns nearly 800 acres of this unique habitat, called Touch the Sky Prairie. We acquired this area, managed by the Windom Wetland Management District, as a unit of the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge.  Please see their website for information on public use opportunities.

  • Prairie Potholes

    prairie potholes

    Prairie potholes, created by glaciers that moved through this region more than 10,000 years ago, define the landscape of the Upper Midwest. Prairie potholes are shallow, often temporary wetlands that provide a place for waterfowl to feed, rest, nest, and shelter their young. In many areas, there are as many as 100 wetlands per square mile! Many of these small wetlands were drained during the previous century and   we are restoring and maintaining them.