Seasons of Wildlife
During the warmer months, expect to see a myriad of waterfowl, grassland birds and brightly colored prairie wildflowers. During the cooler season, expect to see our more residential wildlife such as white-tailed deer and bald eagles.
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 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 waterfowl production areas throughout the district. 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. District wetlands are teeming with waterfowl during spring and fall migration.
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.
Western Prairie 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.