Birds in Central Park

Central Park and the Nine Mile Creek Corridor (NMCC), are in the Mississippi River Flyway and the Lower Minnesota River Valley Important Bird Area. As such, they are an important habitat for birds.

There are a lot of bird species in Central Park

eBird, a site maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, collects sightings from birders around the world and puts together lists for certain areas. The list for this section of Nine Mile Creek names 178 species of birds that have been seen in the park.

How many birds flew overhead last night? shows you how many birds flew overhead overnight. On April 25, 2024, nearly 1.8 million flew over Hennepin County.

On May 21, 2023, the biggest night of the year’s spring migration, more than five million birds passed in one night.

Not all of them flew over Central Park, but even if only 10% did, that’s half a million birds.

The area is a natural habitat for twice-yearly migration

This park provides a stopover for migrating songbirds, neotropical migrants, waterfowl and endangered birds who rely on this natural area to rest and feed during their long migration journeys.

In addition, the park is home to a variety of vegetation and ecosystems that birds depend on for courtship, brood rearing, molting, food, water, and shelter. Therefore, maintaining and restoring this habitat is essential; expanding the habitat would be even more beneficial.

Critical habitats for birds

  • The forested wetland is critical to neotropical migrants such as American redstarts, yellow warblers, hooded mergansers, prothonotary warblers and blue-winged teal.

  • Belted kingfishers, double-crested cormorants, hooded mergansers, buffleheads, American coot, and ring-necked ducks rely on the floodplain forest for breeding.

  • Mallards, wood ducks, bald eagles, and red-bellied woodpeckers inhabit the forest floodplain year-round.

  • The tall, large-diameter cottonwood, mature silver maple trees, and other mature trees that grow in NMCC offer prime habitats for forest canopy birds such as bald eagles, barred owls, and many cavity-nesting and other songbirds. Colonial waterbirds such as great egrets and great blue herons that nest in large groups also use the large treetops.

There are enough environmental challenges

Central Park and NMCC already face many challenges that endanger birds. Those challenges include urbanization, exotic and invasive species, an impaired water body and climate change.

Climate change threatens birds directly and indirectly in many ways. Drought, intense rain events, and increased spread of invasive species reduce habitat and cause alterations in birds' migration and breeding patterns. Severe heat waves and increased temperatures cause heat exhaustion, asphalt burns, fledgling deaths, decreased food sources, and death. Smoke from wildfires can damage lung tissue and make birds susceptible to potentially lethal respiratory infections just as it does in humans.

Further habitat destruction in Central Park adds to an already overwhelming set of challenges for the birds who rely on this area for food, nesting, and brooding.

Save the trees

The park has already lost many trees in recent years to drought and intense rain events. In late 2023, the city, in partnership with Hennepin County, took down dozens of cedar, ironwood, ash, and other trees along the ridge paralleling Humboldt Avenue as part of a plan to restore the area to oak savannah. In early 2024, the city removed many otherwise healthy green ash trees to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer.

With the loss of so much arboreal habitat and food sources already, birds will find it harder to survive. The city should not take down any more healthy native trees, especially large, mature ones that are critical nesting sites.


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