The Friends of Roberts Bird Sanctuary is a non-profit corporation

dedicated to protecting, preserving and enhancing the Sanctuary

as an undeveloped natural area for birds, other wildlife and humans.


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Fall Migration Guided Bird Walks

Common Yellowthroat. Photo by Stephen Greenfield.

Friends of Roberts volunteers will lead bird walks every Saturday at 8 a.m.

on these dates: August 24 and 31, September 7, 14 and 21.


The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board hosts "Wednesdays on the Wing" walks
led by a naturalist at 6 p.m. every Wednesday April - September.


For all walks, please meet in the visitors shelter at the east entrance, near the parking lot.

(Note: this parking lot is a pay lot; some people park on Lake Harriet Parkway as a free alternative.) 


For information about birds in the Sanctuary, visit our Facebook page or contact Steve Greenfield.

Great-horned Owlet. Photo by Shane Schmidt.

2019 Education Programs in the Sanctuary


Friends of Roberts is pleased to offer several educational programs led by naturalists and ecologists. These events are free and open to the public. Each walk starts with a short overview in the Visitors Shelter (at the east entrance) and continues with a stroll through the Sanctuary to observe and learn.


Beginning Birding for Kids

September 21 @ 10:30 a.m.

The best time to hear and see birds is during migration. This walk is especially for young people (with their adult guardians). Tim Potter, age 11, will be one of the guides!



Beginning Bugs for Kids

Saturday, July 27 @ 10 a.m.

Take a guided walk to observe insects in the Sanctuary! Jessica Miller, an insect expert and teacher with a Masters in Entymology from the University of Minnesota, will help us identify insects and will explain how they contribute to the ecosystem and reflect the health of the water. 


Climate Change & the Canopy

June 22 @ 10 a.m.

Take a stroll through the Sanctuary with ecologist and author, Douglas Owens-Pike, to learn about how climate change will likely affect trees in the Sanctuary (and our region) and the implications of these changes for Sanctuary stewards and others who care about trees and wildlife.


According to Minnesota researchers, "the climate is likely to change too fast for plant species to migrate to their new locations, and people will probably need to use assisted migration, which would mean moving and replacing the plants and trees that can’t survive the new climate." http://m.startribune.com/climate-change-threatens-minnesota-s-forests/502090221/

Owens-Pike has a master’s degree in plant ecology and decades of field experience and knowledge. For over 25 years he owned EnergyScapes, an eco-landscaping business with the goal of moving landscape design toward more ecologically sustainable solutions. His first book, Beautifully Sustainable, gives practical knowledge about making landscaping more sustainable with less work. He is currently building a nursery to propagate the best trees for our new climate at his farm and writing his next book, Trees for the Future. 


Birds & Botany in the Sanctuary

June 29 @ 10 a.m.


Learn about the plants that live in the Sanctuary and the birds and animals that love them!


The Sanctuary's Changing Canopy

In early September 2019, representatives of the Friends of Roberts met with foresters from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board about the effects on trees of the unprecedented high water levels in the Sanctuary. In short, although they confirmed that our concerns about individual trees are justified — because so many trees are struggling to survive prolonged submersion and will likely die if these flooded conditions persist indefinitely — overall the Sanctuary's trees and ecosystem are showing positive signs of regeneration and adaptation. 

The foresters described a continuum or "spectrum" of water tolerance in trees, from Cottonwood to Willow and Silver Maple, to Ash and Elm, to truly upland species. They pointed out negative consequences of flooding on some specimens of Sugar Maple and Aspen — species that typically occupy higher ground — showing damage caused by their roots being submerged. Some developments that had struck us as worrisome, such as sprouts from the bases of trees now standing in water, were seen by the foresters as positive signs. These "adventitious roots” are natural methods trees use to obtain more oxygen to replace what is lost as the roots are submerged (putting them in anaerobic conditions) and so to "remain vital." We also learned that species that are relatively water-tolerant are able to send roots sideways into drier ground, and can also go dormant for some time.

While some lost trees can be replaced, regeneration will naturally come from trees already in proximity. Given the reality of ongoing climate change, we identified other possible replacement species that are water-tolerant, from just south of our geographic area or which have already been demonstrated to survive in the Upper Midwest. Some promising more southerly species are already present in the Sanctuary, such as Catalpa and Burr and Swamp Oaks. 

The Friends will continue our focus on removing invasive species and planting natives to support biodiversity during the changes and adaptations caused by climate change. Aggressive actions to reduce the flooding are not likely to be sustainable or to sustain biodiversity as well as natural processes, and the disruption caused by drastic interventions is likely to reduce rather than increase biodiversity. 


Other related issues such as drainage and stormwater management and adding to the biodiversity of the wetland now covered with non-native cattails and Reed Canary Grass are not the domain of the foresters, so we will be meeting with other experts about those concerns.

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