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Minnesota State Parks

Buffalo River State Park
This park is located near the towns of Fargo/Moorhead and protects 1322 acres of prairie. The park includes mesic, dry and wet prairie along with sedge meadows, aspen stands, willow brush and hardwoods associated with the Buffalo River. <br><br> Two old gravel pits near the entrance to the sta...
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Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge / IBA
Description: Hamden Slough is located in a transition zone between flat, tallgrass prairie on the west and north, and a rolling hardwood forest-lake region to the east and south. The refuge is the culmination of a 50-year effort, which began in earnest in 1991, to protect and restore 3000 wetland acres and 2250 acres of upland grass.

When completed, the refuge should encompass almost 6000 acres of prairie wetland ecosystem and will support 219 species of migratory and nesting birds.

Prior to settlement, the area teamed with waterfowl, prairie chickens, bison, wolves and other prairie wildlife. John James Audubon's niece heard about the wildlife abundance of the Hamden Lake area near Minnesota’s western border and visited the site in 1871.

The refuge is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Audubon Minnesota. More than two dozen species of waterfowl, 31 species of shorebirds, 11 marshbird species, many neo-tropical migrants and avian predators rely on the shallow-water and prairie habitats on the refuge. Hamden Slough is also a stop on Minnesota’s Pine to Prairie Birding Trail.

Wildlife to Watch: A "hot spot" for bird watchers, uncommon species like Le Conte's sparrow, American avocet, marsh and sedge wrens, and red-necked grebe, nest on the refuge and are routinely seen. This IBA also supports breeding pairs of great blue herons, pied-billed grebes, black terns, and American coots, as well as secretive marshbirds such as soras, Virginia rails, and American and least bitterns.

Threatened and special concern species include Wilson's phalaropes, greater prairie chickens, common moorhens, marbled godwits and Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrows.

In just the past few years, 13 previously unrecorded bird species have been confirmed as nesting on Hamden Slough. These include: dickcissel, semi-palmated sandpiper, prairie chickens and gadwall. Rarities: cattle egret and piping plover.

The refuge impoundments are managed in May and June for migrating and nesting shorebirds and waterfowl. This has resulted in an increased abundance of previously rare species such as godwits, dowitchers, dunlins, and numerous other "life list" species.

Green-winged teal, canvasback, redhead, common goldeneye, ruddy duck, sedge and marsh wrens, grassland sparrows, bobolink and yellow-headed blackbird are other birds that might be seen. This site is in the migratory corridor of the eastern prairie pothole population of Canada geese.

The abundance of refuge wildlife attracts avian predators, so look to spot bald eagles, harriers, falcons, hawks, kestrels and merlins. Snowy owls are possible to sight in winter.

Special Tips: Hamden is open daily, dawn to dusk (year-round). Wooden observation blinds are available to view prairie chickens on leks from April into mid-May, with peak mating ritual activity taking place in mid-April. Call 218-847-4431 for reservations. The Hesby Memorial Overlook with walkway is a half mile east of the refuge office.

The numbers of public visitors surge in May and June, with many wildlife viewers checking Bisson Lake and the "frog pond," on the north end of the refuge, and the office wetland complex on the south end. Neotropical nesters and migrants are also most easily observed from mid-May through mid-June.

Other Activities: Annual Festival of Birds Held in Detroit Lakes in May. Draws international attention to the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail from the Hamden Slough to the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, as well as, the extensive Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District of over 50,000 acres and more than 800 bird species.

Ownership: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 
Size: 3170 acres 
Closest Town: Audubon/Detroit Lakes


Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing:

Greater Prairie Chicken - Photo by Carrol Henderson
Please use Map Link below

Driving Directions:
The refuge is located one mile northeast of Audubon on 210th Street. Visitors can get to the information kiosk by following the brown and white refuge signs on state, county, and township roads. The best route from U.S. Hwy. 10 at Audubon is north on Becker County Road (CR) 13 to downtown Audubon. Proceed east on CR 104 for 1.3 miles, then north on CR 104 for 0.75 miles to the south end of the refuge. Follow refuge signs and go another quarter mile on Township Road 440 to the refuge kiosk.

The north portion of the refuge can be observed by following Becker County Highway 14 west from U.S. Highway 59 just north of Callaway. County Highway 13 travels south off of County Highway 14 and provides visitors an opportunity to view the prairie wetland landscapes and wildlife of the refuge.

Refuge headquarters is housed with the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District office, located two miles north of Detroit Lakes. To get there via U.S. Highway 59, go 1-1/2 miles east on CR 131/North Tower Road. Refuge Headquarters - Open 7:30 am to 4:00 pm, Monday - Friday, when staff is available.

Map Link

Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge / IBA : Wildlife Viewing Area