The word “Itasca” may sound like it has Native American origins, but it is a contrived composite of the Latin “Veritas Caput,” or “true head,” as its discoverer Schoolcraft christened it in 1832. Schoolcraft may have the distinction of discovering the source of the 2,500-mile Mississippi River, but Jacob Brower must be credited with conserving this 32,000-acre park. He rallied citizens to establish the park to protect remnant stands of virgin timber and the wildlife within. He served as the park’s first commissioner, battling logging interests, politicians, and poachers while personally paying many of the costs associated with these efforts. He negotiated and acquired more than half the park’s lands. Itasca may be the longest-studied of any birding site in the state.
Key birds: Common Loon, Red-necked Grebe, American White Pelican, Bald Eagle, Common Tern, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Black-backed Woodpecker, Least Flycatcher, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Sedge and Winter Wrens, Hermit Thrush, 15-20 species of breeding warblers, Swamp Sparrow. Don’t miss: Upper Rice Lake, Kabekona Rookery. This eTrail provides information on birding strategies for this location, birds you might see, directions to each birding spot, and helpful maps.
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