Important Bird Areas

Felton Prairie IBA

Minnesota

Felton Prairie IBA is located in the Red River Prairie ecological subsection of Minnesota. It?s located within a large beach ridge of Glacial Lake Agassiz. Located in Clay County it is bordered on the north by Cty. Hwy 40, on the south by Cty. Hwy 26, the west by Cty Hwy 9, and on the east by Cty Hwy 27. A spur on the eastern edge runs approximately 5 miles east and 3 miles north. Travel south of Felton, Minnesota for two miles on Hwy. 9, then east 3 miles on County Road 108. Continue on the gravel road approximately .25 miles to the Felton Prairie SNA.

The IBA is an assemblage of private prairie land, gravel mining tracts, Federal Waterfowl Production Areas and units of the Minnesota Outdoor Recreation System including Felton and Ulen Wildlife Management Areas and Shrike, Assinaboia, Blazing Star and the Bicentennial units of the Scientific and Natural Areas.

This area has unique soil composition with the dominant mesic blacksoil prairie, gravel prairie on the beach ridge and wet blacksoil prairie in the swales. The Felton Prairie IBA provides habitat for several unique species including the endangered Assiniboia skipper and the threatened Dakota skipper. Listed birds include the chestnut-collared longspur (state endangered), Baird?s sparrow (state endangered), greater prairie-chicken, and marbled godwit (state special concern).

Ornithological Summary

The Felton Prairie is a unique gravel prairie area which lies in a beach-ridge complex of Glacial Lake Agassiz. This area is a large parcel of remnant prairie located in west central Minnesota. A total of 151 species of birds have been recorded on The Felton Prairie IBA. It is important as a preserve for 49 species of Conservation Concern, most notably the Greater Prairie-chicken. Spring/summer lek counts have recorded as many as 664 individuals in the past few years. This IBA is also important for its tracks of Sedge Wetland habitat and larger tracks of upland prairie. Both of these threatened and unique habitats support healthy bird communities that are expected to be associated with them. Tracts of this size and quality are rare in Minnesota.

MN-2a. Endangered, Threatened or Species of Special Concern

Felton Prairies Complex IBA provides habitat for approximately 40 species listed as endangered, threatened or special concern in Minnesota. This list includes birds, plants, mammals, leafhoppers and butterflies. Listed bird species are; Baird?s Sparrow, Henslow?s Sparrow, Sprague?s pipit, Chestnut-collared longspur (Endangered), Loggerhead Shrike (Threatened), and Prairie Chicken, Yellow Rail, and Marbled Godwit (Special Concern).

Felton Prairies Complex IBA is an important site for the Greater Prairie-chicken, an IUCN Red List and Minnesota Species of Conservation Concern. Lek counts around this IBA ranged from a high of 664 individuals in 2007 to 371 birds in 2010.

MN-2b. Species of conservation concern found on this IBA include; Swainson?s Hawk, Upland Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit, Black-billed Cuckoo, Le Conte?s Sparrow, Dickcissel, and Bobolink

MN-3. Rare, threatened, or unique habitat assemblages

Sedge Wetland (rich fen, poor fen, wet meadow)

Northern Harrier, Yellow Rail, LeConte?s Sparrow, Nelson?s Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Bobolink

Native Prairie (dry, mesic, wet prairie)

Greater Prairie-chicken, Northern Harrier, Swainson?s Hawk, Upland Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Western Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Clay Colored Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Henslow?s Sparrow, Le Conte?s Sparrow, Loggerhead Shrike, Baird?s Sparrow, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Smith?s Longspur (migration), Sprague?s Pipit, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Western Meadowlark, Brewer?s Blackbird

Conservation Issues

The Felton Prairie is located in an area that is traditionally heavily altered by agriculture, gravel mining, and grazing with some additional wind powered generators present. In areas of intense agricultural usage invasive and non-native plants as well as pesticides are always a concern to native prairie populations. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Clay County and private landowners have been working towards saving this valuable prairie area as it is recognized as being a very unique complex and important to a variety of plant and animal species.