Important Bird Areas

Waubun Marsh IBA

Minnesota

The Waubun Marsh is a complex of wetlands and mesic prairie located in southern Mahnomen and northern Becker counties. A mix of federal and state managed units protect much of this area which is one of the most contiguous prairie wetlands in the western part of Minnesota. The grasslands consist of native wet and mesic prairie, and contain a variety of plant species including rare prairie obligates such as small white lady?s slipper, hairlike beak rush, sterile sedge and marsh arrowgrass. The area provides habitat for a number of unique and listed bird species.

This IBA is located between one to four miles south and west and extends ½ mile SE of the town of Waubun, MN. It is north of Detroit Lakes and accessible from that town via Hwy 59.
There are parcels of publicly owned land on both sides of Highway 59. Although some bird habitat remains on the privately owned land in the vicinity, much of the private land has been developed for crops. Approximately 4,000 acres of land in this IBA are under public ownership, including the following acreages;

DNR Waubun Wildlife Management Area 1,772
DNR Spring Creek Wildlife Management Area 757
DNR Division of Forestry Administered 300
US-Tribal Trust 120
USFWS Waterfowl Production Areas 996
Private Land still intact 100 plus

This IBA is located in the Red River Prairie subsection, Red River Valley section, of the Prairie Parkland ecological province.

Ornithological Summary

Over 250 bird species can be found in the IBA at various times of the year. Due to the extensive natural grassland habitats and wetlands in the vicinity, the area supports birds at all times of the year, but significant numbers are more prevalent during spring and fall migration, and during the breeding season (summer). There are seven listed bird species which have been recorded within the IBA that fall under the threatened or SGCN list. The County Biological Survey has identified several tracts of land within the IBA as Calcareous Fen (Northwestern), mesic prairie, and wet prairie (northwestern). The area is shown to be of high biological significance. There are also many small wetlands which provide habitat for a number of waterfowl and wetland associated bird species within the IBA. Additionally, there are over 200 contiguous acres of intact grassland/wetland within the complex.

Conservation Issues

Management of the Wildlife Areas and WPA?s to discourage woody vegetation, and encourage native prairie vegetation and retention of wetlands helps to retain habitat values for birds. The area does have quite a bit of publicly managed land within the boundary. However there are additional opportunities for easements and other protective measures on the private land.

Land Use

Within Spring Creek WMA, the wetlands in sections 3 and 10 are a complex of emergent wetlands and semi-permanent marsh dominated by phragmites, cattail with some upland prairie on the fringes. In sections 12 and 13, sedge and phragmites wetlands dominate, and are interspersed with willow.