Suggested Fargo Parks for Birding
Notable Fargo Parks (north to south):
Click on park name for directions.
Riverwood Park. A fairly new park on the city’s north side, this one is largely dedicated to soccer. Still, a small parking lot along a damp wooded draw, as well as access to some riverside old-growth trees makes it a stop worth a few minutes. A tad unappreciated and certainly under-birded.
Red River Trail. Right at the end of Broadway in north Fargo, this park consists of a paved trail which winds north to the next bridge, perhaps ¾ of a mile. Typical riparian habitat, but a couple of wet seeps and drains can make this an interesting walk at times. Parking is limited.
Trollwood Park. It’s the site of an abandoned performing arts school. A grove of bur oak trees, a deep wooded draw (albeit paved), and areas of weedy overgrowth make this worthy of an hour or two of your time during migration; sparrows in particular can be quite numerous. There isn’t much for riparian woods so stick to the drainage and the area near the structures which have a few spruce trees nearby. Directions:
Woodland Drive area. Not technically a city park, this land is nonetheless city owned and accessible to the public. The recent removal of riverside homes and the construction of a long dike have made many linear feet of open space and river access available to birders. Many past rarities have shown up here where once a prominent Fargo birder lived. Park along the street, hike over the dike, and explore.
Trefoil Park. Access is either from Elm Street or by a parking lot on 12th Ave. N. One of the top birding destinations in the area, this park has been the site of numerous rarities in the past few years. A paved trail, a rocky man-made waterfall, a variety of tree species, and clear views of the sky, are the hallmarks of this park. It can be busy with joggers and cyclists at times but it’s a must-stop for birders.
Mickelson Park. This park actually joins Trefoil Park and so could almost be considered merely an extension of it. Habitat remains similar with the addition of a couple small groves of Scotch pine. Newly removed homes have created a strip of accessible habitat to this park’s south, all the way to Oak Grove School. Gaining in popularity especially with its expanded acreage, this park is definitely worth a stop. Can be busy/noisy due to proximity to ball fields.
Oak Grove Park. Situated on an oxbow of the Red River, this was once considered the premiere birding spot in Fargo-Moorhead. As its name suggests, many large oak trees dot this large park. While still a birdy park at times, the installation of a disc golf course some years ago has diminished its appeal for most. Don’t overlook this one as many of the area’s rare birds have only been found here but you might want to wait for off-hours or iffy weather due to noise and foot traffic.
Wildflower Grove Park. A fairly new park extremely susceptible to flooding. A concrete bicycle path meanders through here along with an elevated rail bed. Habitat is typical of the area with perhaps more weedy growth than most. Usual migrants and residents can be expected.
Lindenwood Park. It’s the southern terminus of a long bicycle trail which wends north along the Red River nearly to Oak Grove Park. This large multiuse park is situated aside I-94 and so automotive noise can be a distraction for ear birding. Still, numerous trails and many linear feet of riparian access should be enough to draw a birder’s attention. Good in migration and a notable spot for migrant hawks with clear views of the sky.
Lemke Park. Nearly unknown and certainly under-birded, this area provides access to another of the Red River’s old low-head dams which have been transformed into mini-waterfalls. Notable here is the fairly large area of conifers (trees almost completely absent in these counties) along the park’s north side. Be advised, this spruce grove is on private land and so maintain a respectable distance if looking for that rare bird. A maintained and marked foot trail wends south along the Red River for at least 0.5 miles.
Lion’s Conservancy Park. This one is largely maintained by the Fargo Lions Club and can be a fun stop. Unique here is the meandering Rose Creek coulee, which creates a backwater, almost swampy, habitat. A grassy trail is usually maintained and is worth checking out. Car noise from nearby South University Drive can be problematic at times.
48th Avenue South area. One to watch. This is another area with flood-removed homes that has become a green space. The downside for birders: The Fargo Park District has installed another disc golf course in this area making it somewhat less attractive and occasionally crowded. Still, the top of this dike offers arguably the best view of the sky for migrating raptors and has become a “hawk watch” for some. Check it out.
Orchard Glen/Forest River Drive. This area is quickly becoming a must-visit destination for local birders. Not technically within Fargo, it does fall within the city’s extraterritorial limit. The area here has undergone much change (since 1997) as flood-prone homes continue to be removed.
Orchard Glen is a large old apple orchard with a looping road around it. Deep sections of riparian woods are accessible from the public parking area. An ephemeral pond along the northern fringe makes a strong bird attractant. River otters have also been seen here.
The end of Forest River Drive is a large peninsula of previously occupied land which is now empty of all homes. It includes planted ornamental trees as well as natural growth areas bisected by a decaying paved road. Making this one a strong contender for top birding site is its size of walkable acreage and its relative quiet. Expect more reports of rarities from here. It has been dubbed an Important Bird Area (IBA).