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"Exploring the Diverse Bird Species of the Red Lake Area: A Birdwatcher's Paradise"

by Merle Nisly, July 2024

The picturesque area that comprises Red Lake is also a prime bird habitat. A great variety of migratory and resident birds may be heard and seen in the woods, marshes, and shorelines of our area.

For beginning bird enthusiasts or for highly experienced birders, there are locations and bird populations that provide exciting possibilities for adding to a life list or getting that perfect photograph.

There are several helpful ways to begin finding your way around this area in search of bird sightings.

Do a little homework. Check on recent bird lists other birders have submitted to the online database, eBird. It is easy and free to create an account on eBird, either by using the mobile app or by going to the online site, Once you have access, you can explore this region and discover birding “hotspots”. You can see what birds have been reported in the recent past, and get an idea of what common, uncommon, or rare birds you may find in this area.

You may see some of the photos and comments submitted by our local birding enthusiasts on the Facebook page, “Birding Red Lake”. You may contact one of the members of the group if you have more questions or would like help to identify your bird.

Practice listening. If you step outside, even within town limits, you are likely to hear some bird sounds. If you are unfamiliar with the sounds you hear, the bird identification app called “Merlin” will be of great help. After installing packs that relate to this region, the app will suggest bird identification for bird sounds that it hears and records. Go after the sounds and try to visually confirm the identification.

Get your binoculars and camera and go looking. When you are ready to head out for a drive, a kayak ride, or a hike to hear and see more bird species, you will find that these locations offer good scenery and great opportunities for seeing, hearing, and photographing birds.

Some of my favourite spots: The Cochenour Marsh: (eBird hotspot “Cochenour-old tailings area”) This is the leading eBird hotspot in the entire Kenora region. Access is off Hwy 125, very near the end of the highway in Cochenour. An access road goes south off 125, very close to the water treatment plant. Follow the service road and find a viewing platform, with parking.

Common bird activity includes waterfowl, herons, shorebirds, gulls, warblers, sparrows, raptors. Most common include Ring-necked Ducks, Red-necked Grebes, Sora, Common Goldeneye, Great Blue Heron, Greater Yellowlegs, Yellow-headed Blackbird. It is also possible to see Virginia Rail, Peregrine Falcon, Stilt Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover, Wilson’s Phalarope, Canvasback, American Bittern, and many more.

Cochenour Service Road: especially in the spring, the area along this road is alive with the sounds of warblers, vireos, thrushes, woodpeckers, and winter wrens. Access is easy, and you can drive or walk without difficulty.

McManus Woods: a good walking trail leads through prime bird habitat, where thrushes, woodpeckers, wrens, and vireos are abundant. Access from McManus St, off Hwy 125.

Coin Creek/St Paul’s Bay Road: follow Hwy 618 toward Madsen to the first right turn after leaving Red Lake. This road is rather rough, but is your access to a great birding hike, or for launching your kayak on Coin Creek. A paddle down the marshy creek area will put you at eye-level with Soras, Sedge Wrens, Swamp Sparrows, and others. Many species of warblers are to be found in the woods on both sides of the road.

Rubicon Road: access is just a few kilometers up the Nungessor Lake Road from Hwy 125. In winter, Great Gray Owls and Northern Hawk Owls have been seen, as well as crossbills, grouse, and grosbeaks. On a spring evening at dusk, you will almost certainly hear American Woodcock and Eastern Whip-poor-wills calling regularly.

Pine Ridge Road: access is about 15 kilometers up the Nungessor Lake Road from Hwy 125. This forest access road gives you many options for exploring various bird habitats. There are marshes and creeks visible from the road. It includes access to the Chukuni River, where birding and fishing are both rewarding. Following the road for 30 km leads to an even more remote habitat and possibilities for adventure. Be sure to consider precautions for your safety and emergency supplies.

Suffel Lake Road: this road is accessed just beyond Madsen, on Hwy 618. It is a forest access road that offers a great variety of habitats and waterways where wildlife and birds are abundant. Remember that this road is remote, and precautions for safety and emergency supplies should be considered.

We hope your sense of adventure and curiosity will reward you with many sounds and sightings of the beautiful birds in the Red Lake region! Happy birding!

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