We’ve covered the Bunyans, the Fish, the Moose, the Bears, the best, and the other best. But we’re back this week for a round-up of all the roadside attractions in Minnesota that love both sky and water. Join us for a tour as we break down every bird statue in the state into two categories: Heavy Hitters, and Small Game.
The Heavy Hitters:
1. World’s Largest Turkey, Frazee – Replacing an earlier version that burned down in a “mysterious” fire back in 1998, Frazee’s “Big Tom” Turkey is situated on a hill overlooking Town Lake at the Lion’s Dam Park on the Otter Tail River. It was built by F.A.S.T. Corporation and is a nod to the many local turkey farms in the area.
2. World’s Largest Loon, Vergas – Just down the road from Frazee’s Turkey is the World’s Largest Loon in Vergas. Standing 20 feet tall and overlooking Long Lake at the city beach, the Loon has been beckoning visitors to stop and photo it for over 50 years.
3. World’s Largest Pelican, Pelican Rapids – Also in the vicinity of the Turkey and Loon statues is Pelican Rapids’ famous statue, “Pelican Pete.” He stands on the banks of the Pelican River next to a dam below downtown. The statue was built in the 1950’s for the town’s Jubilation Festival.
4. World’s Largest Prairie Chicken, Rothsay – Although it seems like it would be more at home in North Dakota, the Prairie Chicken in Rothsay is a nod to the once-rampant bird known for its orange air sacs on each cheek that would puff up during mating season. The statue is a great roadside attraction visible right off the interstate.
5. Eagle, Remer – East of Walker and southwest of Grand Rapids is the small town of Remer. Standing right downtown on the main drag is a 10-ft tall Eagle statue which is a salute to our armed forces. Lately, however, Remer has begun rebranding themselves as Minnesota’s Bigfoot Capital, as an elusive sasquatch was captured on a trailcam in 2009.
6. Blackduck, Blackduck – North of Bemidji is the small town of Blackduck, and it is home to three Black Duck statues. Pictured above is the newest and most visible statue out near the highway, but you can click here to see the others (or just keep scrolling)! 7. World’s Largest Crow, Belgrade – 20 feet tall and 3,000 lbs, the World’s Largest Crow in Belgrade, south of Sauk Centre, welcomes visitors traveling through on Highway 71. The Crow sits atop a branch on a huge pedestal in a park surrounded by flags.
8. Golden Eagle, St. Paul – Formerly perched outside of a bank in downtown St. Paul, this gilded gold Eagle now stands guard of the college campus of Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN, where it has been for over 30 years.
9. Metal Goose in Flight, Fergus Falls – This big metal goose in flight is positioned outside of the Otter Tail County Historical Museum in Fergus Falls. It can be seen in conjunction with all the other roadside attractions in town.
10. Big Eagle, Red Lake – Somewhat new to the roadside attractions landscape is the Big Eagle, also known as “Migizi,” outside of the 7 Clans Casino near Red Lake, MN.
11. Mallard, Wheaton – The pride of Traverse County (and icon of Wheaton), the big concrete Mallard is found in Wheaton, a small farm town in the Red River Valley. It has been in place since around 1950 and was sculpted by a local contractor who is said to have used a small paperweight as his inspiration.
12. Bird of Goodwill, St. Paul – This scrap-metal bird stands outside of a Goodwill store on University Avenue between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Its official name is “Red Alert.”
13. Canada Goose, Squaw Lake – The large Canadian Goose found outside of a resort in Squaw Lake, MN, has been around since the early 90’s. The goose is a reference to the non-profit group Geese Unlimited, which was founded in Squaw Lake.
14. Floating Loon, Virginia – An oversized version of the state bird has been known to float on a lake in the Iron Range town of Virginia, but they put him away after July 4th so your window to see him is limited!
15. Coot, Ashby – The Coot, an odd waterbird not commonly seen in Minnesota, is paid homage to in the small town of Ashby. Much like Wheaton’s Mallard, this particular bird is made of concrete and positioned in a small park as you enter town from the south.
16. Big Eagle Buildings, Red Lake – Two massive, sprawling bald eagles with outstretched wings adorn the facades on both the Red Lake Nation Tribal College building and the next-door Red Lake Government Center. The eagle on the college building is the length of a football field, and the one on the next-door government building is only slightly smaller at 213 feet. These bad boys must be seen to be believed.
We can’t forget about the lesser known birds, the smaller statues, and the ones that “fly” under the radar!
1. Rooster, Two Harbors – The North Shore town of Two Harbors features a 10-ft tall Rooster statue outside of a gift shop.
2. Rooster, Longville – Perched atop a chicken restaurant in tiny Longville, is an identical Rooster to the one in Two Harbors.
3. Rooster, Minneapolis – As does a third at the Farmers Market in Minneapolis.
4. Rooster, Austin – A very similar rooster stands outside of the Apollo Superette in Austin, MN.
5. Pelican, Pelican Rapids – Standing outside of a classic roadside motel in Pelican Rapids is a smaller version of Pelican Pete.
6. Pelicans, Pelican Rapids – Also scattered around town in Pelican Rapids are many smaller Pelicans, all painted with different themes.
6. Big Chicken, Delano – This excited Chicken standing outside of a gas station in Delano gets in the holiday spirit each year at Christmastime.
7. Pelican, Walker – The Pelican statue above a local bar in downtown Walker has been an icon of the classic Minnesota lake town for decades.
8. Tin Rooster, Wadena – This snipped-tin Rooster is a newcomer on the roadside attractions landscape, and stands just south of town on Highway 71.
9. Blackduck, Blackduck – If you’ve already seen the main Blackduck in Blackduck, then head into downtown Blackduck to see for yourself the original “Blackduck.”
10. Blackduck, Blackduck – Blackduck also features a smaller, third “blackduck” outside of the Drake Motel.
11. Geese, Middle River – The northwestern town of Middle River (north of Thief River Falls) features a metal sculpture of two geese in flight.
12. Iron Range Veterans Memorial, Virginia – A bronze memorial to those who have served in the Military, the Big Eagle in Virginia stands in front of the lake that Number 14 on our top lists floats in.
13. Little Tom, Frazee – In addition to Frazee’s Big Tom Turkey, downtown also features a smaller, “Little Tom” statue at the main intersection in town.
14. Eagle, Eagle Bend – A small eagle statue is featured in a roadside park in Eagle Bend.
15. Hummingbird, Vining – The last bird on our list is the work of Ken Nyberg, a hummingbird and flower found at Nyberg’s shop just north of Vining, where dozens of his other sculptures are featured.
Thanks for joining us on a tour of Minnesota’s Big Birds! See you next time.