Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
Scout for black terns on Ogechie Lake and red-winged blackbirds in the vast cattail marsh that lies between Shakopee and Onamia Lakes. Forest songbirds are abundant–watch for indigo buntings, Baltimore orioles, American redstarts, black-capped chickadees, red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches, fox and white-throated sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, pine and evening grosbeaks, common redpolls, pine siskins, American goldfinches, purple finches and red-headed, red-bellied, downy, hairy and pileated woodpeckers. Don’t be surprised if you scare up ruffed grouse while walking in the woods. During most of the year the best way to see animals is to drive slowly through the park at dawn or dusk. Look for deer along meadow edges and porcupines lumbering across the road. Black bears are common, but tend to be reclusive during the park’s busy times. Although beavers are not often seen, you might notice their lodges and chiselings. In autumn scan the skies for winged migrants, the forest floor for tracks, tree bark for deer rubs and sheltered spots for critters basking in the waning heat of the season. Climb the observation tower for a panoramic view of the spectacular, color-splashed foliage. Look for footprints, scat, wing marks and bedding sites in the snow. Stop by the park’s visitor center where wildlife is drawn to stock feeders.
Suggested Birding Areas:
- Lake Ogechie Trail, heading north from main campground (trail sign next to campsite #A-4).
- Kathio Highlands Trail, beginning at orientation Panels near park entrance.
- Rum River Trail (Hiking Club Trail), beginning at Interpretive Center.
- From a canoe on the Rum River. Canoe rental available at the park.
Best Viewing Times: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall