The Bass Ponds – A Hidden Gem

The Bass Ponds are part of the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge. It is an urban wildlife refuge in shadow of the Mall of America, a busy highway and the Minneapolis International Airport. Besides being a refuge for animals, the Bass Ponds is a refuge for joggers, fisherman, hikers, and birders.

Blue – Wing Teal nest in the shallow ponds.

Bald Eagles are a common sight.

Male Northern Oriole
(listen to its call below)

I asked the two women shown above why they liked birding.
“I have been birding for 25 years. It is addictive. The anticipation of seeing something new, is an adrenaline rush. It is also about slowing down and just being outside in the wonder of nature. Even if it is a common bird, I like to watch their behavior because you witness different behaviors in the spring than you do at other times of the year“.

Male Eastern Bluebird     (listen to its call below)


Wood Duck male and female are found in the shallow ponds

American Toad calling. Notice the ripples in the water from the intensity of the sound.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak – It’s call is a beautiful melodious song (listen below)



LL Bean volunteer March Trail Clean up (Photo by Grant Fleetwood)

I work for LL Bean at the Mall of America. The Bass Ponds is our local trail and LL Bean has adopted it, and we partner with the wildlife refuge. It an urban park and we are going to go ahead and clean up the trash once a month. I get satisfaction intrinsically by helping out the environment. We want to do our part and make it better for everyone to enjoy.
Our next cleanup will be Sat. June 8, and it’s open to everyone. Readers can get more info and sign up at .
Grant Fleetwood

Muskrat (Photo was taken in March when the ponds were still frozen).

Other mammals found at the Bass Ponds includes: coyote, beaver, deer, fox, raccoons, mink and otters at the Bass Ponds.

Craig Mandel is on the right in the blue jacket

Craig Mandel is a master birder and regularly leads hikes at the Bass Ponds.  Craig put everyone at ease with his welcoming demeanor. His quiet passion for birding is contagious. (Contact the MVWR Visitor Center to find out Craig’s next hike). 

It was very enriching walking with 25 people who were so passionate about learning and sharing their knowledge of nature.

Male Redwing Blackbird       (listen to its “oka-lee” call below)


A female red-wing blackbird weaving its nest out of strips of cattails.

American Redstart is a warbler that nests at the Bass Ponds.

I met a 16 year old bird watcher. “I got into bird watching when I was 5. “My aunt was in a birding group and they “adopted me”. I have been passionate about birding ever since, unfortunately, there aren’t too many birders my age”.


Vanessa Nordstrom grew up exploring and hiking at the Bass Ponds. She shares the following childhood memories:
“We would hike down the big hill before it was paved and we loved  having the freedom to explore everything.
In the winter we would see the fish in the stocked pond and the river run off and they would be jumping out of the ice. We used to always find animal skulls down in the woods too skunks, weasels and a deer, etc. “

Indigo Bunting – A little jewel in the trees          (listen to its call below)


To get directions to the Bass Ponds contact
Visitor Center
Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge
3815 , American Blvd,
Bloomington, MN.
(952) 854-5900

This entry was posted in Birds, Connecting to Nature, Spring. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Bass Ponds – A Hidden Gem

  1. Caro Izad says:

    Thank you- this was incredible . Love the singing birds and the Frog

  2. Sarah says:

    Great photos! I never knew there was such an awesome wildlife refuge by the mall! I used to go there with Jake when he lived in Minneapolis.

  3. Cindy says:

    I’m excited to go explore this area and maybe catch a talk by Craig Mandel! Thanks Larry. Of course I love hiking with you and catching your talks as well!

  4. Vicki Donatell says:

    Love the photos and the musical voices of the birds.
    Thank you,

  5. Janine says:

    Such a joy to view your incredible photos and listen to your recordings. Thank you, Larry!

  6. Jim Cotton says:

    Thanks for bringing another adventure in nature to my attention, as always it was a pleasure reading your photo journalist style.

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