Hidden Gem – Coon Rapids Dam

I have lived in the Twin Cities for 30 years and have never visited Coon Rapids Dam until last weekend. What a treasure! A lot of birdwatchers, photographers with ultra long lens, families, and bicyclists. Many thanks to Jane Ball and Celeste Rouse who contributed their beautiful photos.

White Pelican with the “horn” on the top of the beak that develops during the breeding season.  Photograph by Larry Wade


The White Pelican has one of the largest wing spans (9 feet across) in North America, second only in size to the California Condor. White Pelicans nest in Northern Minnesota, North Dakota and Southern Canada.

There were 4 or 5 loons at the dam, possibly because most of the lakes in the area and north are still frozen. Photograph by Larry Wade

Loon eating a crayfish. Photograph by Larry Wade


Most of the birds that were at the dam were migratory. I came back next day and 50% of the birds had left. The wind had changed from a north wind to a south wind. Spring migratory birds usually move when the wind is from south because they can get a free ride and not have to expend as much energy.

Red Necked Grebe in breeding plumage. Photograph by Larry Wade

Eared Grebe with a grub.
Photograph by Celeste Rouse

Eared Grebe is on the left and a Horned Grebe is on the right. Both are in breeding plumage.
Photograph by Jane Ball

Male Ruddy Duck or “bluebill”.
Photograph by Larry Wade

Male Northern Shoveler. The bird gets its name because of its large beak that it uses for filtering plankton.  Photo by Celeste Rouse

Both the Northern Shoveler and the Ruddy Duck nest in the pothole region of Northern Minnesota and North Dakota.

Male and Female Blue Wing Teal. Blue Wing Teals nest throughout Minnesota.
Photo by Larry Wade

Hooded Merganser is a fish eating bird. It has a serrated beak and is sometimes called a “sawbill”. Photo by Larry Wade

Male wood duck in the foreground and the female in the background. Wood ducks nest in the Twin Cities.
Photograph by Larry Wade


Great Blue Heron  Photo by Celeste Rouse


The Great Blue Heron is 4 1/2 feet tall. They use their sharp beak for spearing fish, frogs, mice and insects. Blue Herons nest mainly in trees.

Osprey   Photo by Celeste Rouse


There is an osprey nest on the  west side of the Coon Rapids Dam. On Sundays there is an osprey watch volunteer monitoring the nest. He has a very large telescope for interested people to observe the birds.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Hidden Gem – Coon Rapids Dam

  1. JoAnn Vitovec says:

    Natures beauty and variety is overwhelming and touching! Thank you.

  2. barbara goodman-fischtro says:

    what a creation nature is!!!

  3. Ken Brown says:

    Wonderful! Thank you for your postings!

  4. Patti says:

    The birds were amazing this year. We had flocks of seagulls that stayed for two weeks, right thru the blizzard. The raucous calls echoed all night. The later spring I think caused it and possibly the wildfires out west were the cause.
    It was an amazing day for birds that Saturday thank you for sharing the pictures here . I took some iPhone photos but they don’t do it justice.

  5. Barbara Andersen says:

    It’s such a good place to get up close to the Mighty Mississippi River.

  6. Cindy Eyden says:

    Really stunning photos by all three photographers! Thanks Larry – seems it is worth the trip up there!

  7. Janine says:

    Your photos are incredible, Larry! Thank you for sharing them!

  8. Bonnie Ellis says:

    Thanks for the heads up about the park. I was there only once and I agree.
    The pictures are spectacular!

  9. Mary Holm says:

    I never saw a nicer wood duck photo! 🙂 Beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 32 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here