Animals of the North Shore and where to find them
If you live in the city or visiting from another state, you might not get many chances to see some of the animals native to Minnesota. Below are some of our favorite wild animals in Minnesota. While there aren’t many dangerous animals in Minnesota, please exercise caution and do not interfere with or approach the wildlife.
Snowshoe Hares

Though they have brown fur during the summer, their fur transitions to white in the winter for better camouflage. This color change is brought on by the darker days of winter, so their fur will still be white despite the lack of snow and early spring weather.

Where to find them:

Snowshoe hares are most commonly found in dense woodlands and forest bogs. If they sense you coming, they will likely freeze in place, so the best way to spot one is to carefully and slowly study the area.

Common Loons

In the summer, loons have spotty black-and-white coats with iridescent green coloring on their heads. In the fall, their coats turn grey on top and white underneath. With their bright red eyes and striking feathers, common loons are a joy to see and hear in the wild and are Minnesota’s state bird. Their unique calls can be heard at dusk and dawn around the lake.

Where to find them:

During the warmer months, loons are found around lakes throughout central and northeastern Minnesota but migrate south from September to late March. While they don’t usually nest on Lake Superior, they can often be seen fishing on the great lake.

Moose

The largest wild animal in Minnesota, moose, can be roughly the height of a large SUV. They are easily recognized by their size and antlers on male moose, which begin to grow in April and shed in December.

Where to find them:

Moose can be quite elusive, but the best place to try to catch a glimpse of one of these giants is by driving the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway. This road leads to East Bay Suites, so lucky guests occasionally see a moose on their way to the resort. Occasionally, moose can be seen licking salt off the roads in the winter.

Great Horned Owls

With large yellow eyes, this bird of prey gets its name from tufts of feathers that resemble horns. You may not always see these owls, but sometimes you can hear them by with their unique “hoo” noise.

Where to find them:

Though they are the most common species of owl in Minnesota, they can be difficult to spot as they are nocturnal. They are most often seen at dusk and dawn on the edge of forests, in trees and open country.

Bald Eagles

Named for their contrasting white heads and dark brown bodies, these birds of prey can reach up to three feet tall and have a wingspan of five and a half feet to eight feet. If you see a large bird soaring in the sky, there’s a good chance it’s an eagle.

Where to find them:

Bald eagles nest along Lake Superior's shoreline and can often be spotted in trees along Highway 61. Fun fact: they are the national symbol of the United States.

Beavers

These crafty critters build and live in dams and begin to emerge in spring. Look for dams built out of sticks and brush or trees with teeth marks. If you do catch a glimpse of a beaver, you will likely only see their big tails as they splash into the water.

Where to find them:

Beavers are pretty common in Northern Minnesota. They can be found near bodies of water and wetland areas. With the unseasonably warm weather, you might catch some beavers leaving their nests earlier than usual.

Grey Wolves

These social animals live and hunt in packs, roaming a territory of roughly 50 miles. While they are social with each other, they are not social with humans, making it rare for them to be seen in the wild. However, you may be able to hear their low howls at dusk.

Where to find them:

To get an up close and informative look at wolves, visit the International Wolf Center near Grand Superior Lodge.

River Otters

Long and sleek, river otters are Minnesota’s largest aquatic predator. Their back and sides are either glossy brown or black. Because they are semiaquatic, look and listen for splashes in bodies of water. It could be an otter.

Where to find them:

River otters can be found near lakes, streams, and ponds. They are commonly seen along the shorelines of Lake Superior. Visitors staying at Lutsen Sea Villas, East Bay Suites, and Grand Superior Lodge often report seeing these playful creatures. Yes, they are cute, but remember to keep a safe distance away.

Seeing any of these animals thriving in their natural habitat is a beautiful experience.

Part of what makes wildlife sightings so rewarding is that seeing one of these creatures can be somewhat of a surprise. If you are interested in a larger list of the animals of Minnesota, take a look at the Department of Natural Resources

Let's go spring birding with Erik.
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