Sanctuary for birds, nature retreat for people


The stresses of city living sometimes can make a person long for a nature retreat. Fortunately for the residents of the CARAG and ECCO neighborhoods, when they are in need of such solace they can find it close to home at Roberts Bird Sanctuary located south of Lakewood Cemetery on the north side of Lake Harriet.

For the past few years, however, Roberts has been in need of a large dose of tender loving care itself. Due to budget cuts and other priorities, the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) has been unable to stay ahead of the growth of invasive plants in the sanctuary. Buckthorn, garlic mustard, purple loosestrife and other invasive plants are crowding out the native plants. The declines in the number and variety of native plants mean birds and other wildlife have little reason to visit the sanctuary because it can no longer provide the food and habitat they need to survive. Without wildlife, Robert’s ability to serve as a retreat for people is diminished as well.

To help the MPRB improve the environment at Roberts, the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis (ACM) recently adopted the sanctuary through the MPRB’s Adopt-a-Park program. The adoption allows the ACM to hold various activities at the site including bird tours, invasive plant pulls and clean up events.

The bird tours will take place every Saturday through June 5 to give birders a chance to see the migrating birds at Roberts. Tours also will take place on three Saturdays in the summer – June 19, July 17 and August 21, to observe the local birds. All tours will begin at 8 a.m. at the visitor center and last one hour. Birders of all levels are welcome.

A garlic mustard pull is scheduled for Saturday, May 22 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Experienced and inexperienced pullers are welcome. Please bring your own gloves and trowel if you have them. Disposal bags will be provided.

To learn how you can help Roberts and for more information about events at the sanctuary, go to the AMC website:

Gay Noble lives in CARAG and Kit Healy lives in Northeast Minneapolis. Both are members of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis.