You are here

Alex Roth

Must-see FMR spring birding sites along the river

Bird hike at a restoration site

Birders scan the tree line for movement as FMR ecologist Karen Schik (right) plays a recorded bird call at an FMR habitat restoration site.

FMR has helped to protect and restore a number of first-rate birding spots in the metro. Take advantage of the spring migration season with a guided bird hike or a solo visit to our top Mississippi River flyway sites. Whether you’re looking for an urban birding spot, or prefer a location a little more off the beaten path, we've got you covered.
March 31

DNR Eagle Cam provides a close-up view of eagle family life

An adult bald eagle feeds its babies live on camera

An adult bald eagle feeds its babies live on the DNR Eagle Cam.

Each year in the Twin Cities, humans and other wildlife patiently wait for spring. Some years it arrives to stay, others it arrives only to beat a fast retreat. But over the last few years, one of the few constants in this transitional period in the metro has been the presence of bald eagles. As spring creeps back they take to the sky, hunting for prey, fighting over territory, and mating.

March 10

A murder most fowl

As dusk approaches on a cold winter night, Twin Cities residents may notice an unusual number of crows flying overhead. Each winter, they show up by the thousands to roost in metro neighborhoods. While the gatherings may seem ominous to some, they serve an important purpose for these intelligent birds.

February 13

Earthworms invade our forest floor

A field assistant prepares to collect a nightcrawler for analysis as part of an earthworm sampling project in Minnesota forests.

A field assistant prepares to collect a nightcrawler for analysis as part of an earthworm sampling project in Minnesota forests. Photo: Alex Roth

When people think about phenology, the study of natural phenomena and cycles, they usually look up. We tend to focus on events like bud break, bird migration, leaf fall, etc. But what about the changes going on beneath our feet? Looking down once in a while may help you familiarize yourself with the buzz of activity underfoot, including the effects of one particularly damaging invasive species: earthworms.

September 12

Endangered species recovery at FMR restoration sites

A trio of endangered species recently found at FMR conservation and restoration sites.

A trio of endangered species recently found at FMR conservation and restoration sites. Left to right: Loggerhead shrike, Blanchard's cricket frog and Henslow's sparrow. Photos by Terry Ross, Greg Schecter and Scott Krych.

Plant and animal populations decline for many reasons — habitat loss, climate change, pollution and other factors. The Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973 to prevent the decline and extinction of at-risk species and aid their recovery. At FMR, one of the ways we can best benefit endangered species is through the enhancement or restoration of native habitat. FMR’s many restoration sites do just that, providing much-needed habitat for both common and endangered plants and animals.

While the Endangered Species Act has benefitted countless species, we’d like to think our restorations have as well. We've spotted three endangered species — loggerhead shrike, Blanchard's cricket frog and Henslow's sparrow — at our sites so far this year! 

August 8

Students track FMR restoration's impact on wildlife

Gathering invertebrates, indicators of water quality

Students from Elk River High School sample invertebrates from a stretch of the Mississippi River. These aquatic insects are excellent indicators of water quality. 

With restoration work at the William H. Houlton Conservation Area slated to start this fall, students from the local Elk River Senior High School have begun to collect baseline data to help FMR track the restoration's impact on local amphibians, plants, trees and aquatic invertebrates.

June 13

Harnessing fire as a conservation tool

Crews work to carefully manage a burn at the Sand Coulee Scientific & Natural Area. Fire helps reduce invasive species while benefiting fire-adapted native prairie plants. Photo by Karen Schik

Fire was once commonplace on the American landscape. After nearly a century of suppression, it’s making a comeback. Find out why fires are on the rise, and how FMR uses fire as a tool to restore habitat on many of our restoration sites.

April 11

FMR restoration efforts emphasize pollinator health

A yellow sulphur butterfly in the bluff prairie at River Oaks park in Cottage Grove, an FMR restoration site. Photo: Joe Walton

Pollinators have had a rough go of things lately, with habitat loss and overabundant pesticide use leading to declines in many bee and butterfly species. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. These declines have sparked a renewed interest in pollinators, leading to new initiatives and funding for the conservation of these species. Find out what FMR and others are doing to protect pollinators in Minnesota.

March 7

Oh, deer. Whitetails and Minnesota's future forests

Unfortunately, deer don't enjoy munching on invasive plant species.

A healthy whitetail deer will eat around five pounds of food per day. Photo from www.northamericanwhitetail.com.

Perhaps drinking from the river or bounding through blufflands, deer are a welcome sight on any oudoor excursion. From an ecological perspective, however, an overabundance of deer are creating problems. It turns out many uncommon native plants are especially tasty. But invasive species such as buckthorn and garlic mustard? Not so much. Compounded by earthworms and climate change, our treasured whitetails may play a large role in the future of our forests. 

January 11

Pages