|Mud Goose WMA|
This state owned wildlife management area consists of a large complex of wetlands and forest within the boundary of the Chippewa National Forest. The Leech Lake River passes through marshy, shrub swamp, peatland forest and 2 lakes, Mud Lake and Goose Lake.
Boy Lake / Boy River
|Description: Long before the first European trapper or explorer ventured along the drainage leading to the Mississippi River, prehistoric and historic tribes were living along the shores. The rivers and lakes provided a major food source, as well as a convenient route of travel. In relatively more recent times, the Dakota and Anishinabeg flourished along these waterways.
Today, some of this area in north-central Minnesota remains as tribal lands. It is also a popular destination for visitors who enjoy the quiet and beauty of lake country. The greater Leech Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish area offers great birding and wildlife watching opportunities. There are countless back roads to explore and many public water accesses where birds may be spotted without binoculars.
However, the focus of this site—the Boy River and Boy Lake—is more geared toward “birding by boat”.
The Boy River connects a series of lakes beginning at Ten Mile Lake and continuing east through Woman and Inguadona lakes and then flows north through the east side of Boy Lake and continues northwest to Leech Lake.
Although Boy Lake (sometimes called Big Boy) occurs within the Chippewa National Forest, the shoreline includes a mix of ownership. Areas of privately owned, upland shoreline have been developed with residential homes and several resorts, but the shoreline remains primarily forested. Large wetlands occur adjacent to the lake, including an extensive swamp on the northeast bay of Boy Lake.
This 3186-acre lake has 21 miles of shoreline. The shoreline is irregular in outline with a large north basin connected by an elongated channel to the eastern basin. A five-acre island occurs on the east side of the northern basin. More than 60 percent of the lake is less than 15 feet in depth.
The tiny town of Boy River is located on the east side of the river between Boy Lake and Leech Lake. Boy River is now an access for canoes and non-motorized boats, and provides an outhaul spot for those who don't wish to continue on to large open waters of Leech Lake.
Wildlife to Watch: Slow motoring or canoeing are the best ways to explore the shoreline, shallows, island, open water and adjoining woods. Diverse habitat and vegetation, which includes wild rice, reeds and bulrush, is excellent for nesting, resting, hiding broods and family foraging. A variety of birds including waterfowl, marshbirds, raptors, waterbirds and songbirds may be readily spotted.
This is a place where birdwatching is at its best. Loons arrive as early as ice-out, so look for nests and later, adults with a chick. In late spring, towards evening and into the night, several species of marshbirds might be seen or heard. Listen for the unique and uncommon calls of American bittern, Virginia and yellow rails and soras. Song sparrows sing. Swamp, savannah and possibly LeConte’s sparrow, sedge or marsh wren or bobolink might be spotted too. Warblers and woodland species flit along the shoreline.
Swallows and nighthawks swoop to snatch up insects. Great blue herons, green herons and belted kingfishers stalk the shoreline. Squadrons of American pelicans use the lake for feeding, as well as resting. Common and black terns fly over, as do osprey. Bald eagle pairs perch in tall trees near their nests.
Wood ducks, mallards, ring-necked ducks, goldeneyes, mergansers, teal and other waterfowl frequent the food-rich shallows. Large and lovely trumpeter swans forage there too. Even the unmistakable sound of sandhill cranes might be heard in the distance.
Fall migration brings additional—and sometimes unusual—birds to the nearby Leech and Winnibigoshish Lakes.
Watch for white-tailed deer sipping from the lake. You might spot a black bear, fox or even a wolf in the vicinity. Otters occasionally may be seen along the lakeshore or riverway. From spring well into mid-summer, numerous species of frogs call from woodlands and aquatic vegetation. Listen for choruses and clicks of spring peepers, chorus, tree, mink and green frogs. Basking painted turtles might be spotted, as well as an occasional snapping turtle.
Special Tips: Caution: As summer progresses, if you have a motorized boat, stay in the “water channel” especially on the northeast end of the lake where it exits into the Boy River. As wild rice begins to grow in July, it can make for “motor madness”, as the plant winds around the propeller and lower unit. It is possible to seriously damage the motor.
Canoeists: Prime time to travel is mid-May to July, avoiding spring’s cold-water temperatures and fall’s thick, tall wild rice that inhibits visibility. Travel is not recommend beyond the terminus downstream from the town of Boy River, except for exploratory trips terminating short of Leech Lake. The river spreads into wide swamps with no accessible high land. A Chippewa National Forest canoe route map is available.
Other Activities: Resorts often provide boats for their guests. Renting a boat may be possible too.
Ownership: federal, state, county, tribal and private
Size: 3186 acres
Closest Town: Federal Dam/Longville
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: