Hastings Important Birding Areas (IBAs)

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Mississippi River Twin Cities IBA: The Mississippi River and adjacent floodplain forest and uplands extending for 38 river miles from Hastings to Minneapolis was designated as one of the 1st IBAs. It is situated along the migratory corridor for waterfowl, and shorebirds, loons, cormorants, gulls, terns, herons, egrets, pelicans, coots, grebes, and other species. A mixed species heron rookery, 8 pairs of bald eagles and peregrine falcons occur in the IBA.

Vermillion Bottoms – Lower Cannon River IBA: The northern end is located at the junction of the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers extending southeast to include the lower Cannon River. This IBA is a critical migratory corridor for waterfowl, forest songbirds, raptors, and waterbirds. C.P. Adams Park, Hastings SNA, Lake Isabel, Hastings WMA & Gores State AMA are all within this designated area. As one of the top four sites in the state for rare forest birds it has the highest numbers of two special concern bird species in southeast Minnesota: red-shouldered hawks and cerulean warblers. It also provides important nesting and/or migratory habitat for peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and Acadian flycatchers, and includes a bald eagle winter roost site and two colonial nesting sites for great blue herons and great egrets. The Minnesota County Biological Survey has documented 14 birds of conservation concern in the site. In addition, peregrine falcons nest in nest-boxes nearby and use the area for feeding. A total of 153 bird species have been recorded breeding or migrating through the area.

St. Croix Lake IBA: The St. Croix Lake Important Bird Area is located north/northeast of Hastings, along the eastern border of Minnesota. It is an important migration corridor for significant numbers of migrating raptors and waterbirds and open water on the river attracts wintering Bald Eagles and waterfowl. Point Douglas Park and Carpenters Nature Center are close places in this area for public viewing. The location and variety of habitats in this IBA result in great species diversity with 268 birds documented within the boundaries.

Lake Byllesby IBA: Lake Byllesby lies in the Cannon River Valley located 16 miles southwest of Hastings. As birds migrate northward in the spring via the Mississippi River corridor, many eventually leave the corridor and head northwest across southeast Minnesota to follow the prairie-hardwood transition zone enroute to their breeding grounds to the north. The relatively large size of Lake Byllesby with its associated extensive mudflats and shallow areas provide important resting and feeding habitat that is in very short supply in this region of the state. The site contains an assemblage of species characteristic of shallow wetland and alluvial mudflat habitat type. This includes: 31 (78%) of Minnesota's 40 recorded shorebird species; 30 (70%) of Minnesota's 43 recorded waterfowl species; Common, Forster's, Caspian, and Black Tern; American White Pelican, and others.