There are two little known bird watching gems in the center of the city of Virginia: Silver Lake and Baily Lake! These can be a great place to bird watch during spring and fall migration, especially for waterfowl. During the winter, driving the streets of Virginia, Eveleth, and Biwabik may offer up winter time species like Pine Grosbeak, Bohemian Waxwing, or Evening Grosbeak, as well as other winter finches. Because of the proximity of the Range to the Superior National Forest, the Virginia offers an abundance of birdwatching opportunities for the person who wants to venture down Forest Service Roads and explore and under birded area of the state of Minnesota.
Area State Parks
To the east and west of the Range, you can find three state parks perhaps best known for their recreation opportunities, but offer wonderful birdwatching options for those who enjoy a hike through pine forests. These parks offer 20+ species of warbler, a number of finches including Red and White-winged Crossbills in the winter and occasionally the summer, and lakes attracting loons and other waterbirds during migration and the breeding season. Find more information about each of these parks by checking out the bird lists for each park below:
Bear Head Lake State Park Bird List: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/destinations/state_parks/bear_head_lake/bird_checklist.pdf
McCarthy Beach State Park Bird List: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/destinations/state_parks/mccarthy_beach/bird_checklist.pdf
Lake Vermillion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park Bird List: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/destinations/state_parks/lake_vermilion_soudan_underground_mine/bird_checklist.pdf
For those looking to expand their birdwatching adventure to the north or the east, the areas around Cook and Orr, as well as the Ely area offer great birdwatching opportunities for hard to find boreal forest species like Boreal Chickadee, Spruce Grouse, Red and White-winged Crossbill, and Gray Jay. You will have to cover some ground to get to each of these areas, but it could be worth your time! Johnson Road, near Cook, MN is a great location to find Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, and Boreal Chickadee. The Mickey Elverum Bog Boardwalk in Orr is another wonderful hike, as well as a great area to find Black-backed woodpecker and a number of warbler species. For the Ely area, check out the Ely Field Naturalists website: https://elyfieldnaturalists.wordpress.com/.