The Minneapolis Chain of Lakes includes Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet. The importance of this IBA is the significant acreage of water that provides migratory habitat for waterfowl and waterbirds within a highly developed urban landscape.
Two-hundred and nine species were recorded from 1977-2005, including 27 species of waterfowl, gulls and other waterbirds. Up to 84 species have been recorded within the deciduous woodland in Cedar Lake Park and species of conservation concern including Henslow's Sparrow, Piping Plover, Peregrine Falcon, Horned Grebe, Common Tern and Wilson's Phalarope.
The native woodland on the north side of Cedar Lake, Robert's Bird Sanctuary and Lyndale Park, Lakewood Cemetery and the two islands in Lake of the Isles provide terrestrial habitat for native and migrating songbirds and breeding habitat for hawks and woodpeckers. Pileated Woodpeckers and Eastern Kingbirds with young are observed yearly near Lake of the Isles.
All of the lakes are surrounded by city park land and planted with grass and trees. Some native vegetation has been planted to stabilize shorelines and minimize erosion. Lake Harriet is surrounded by more than 126 acres including Lyndale Park and the Thomas Robert's Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a small complex of open water, wetland, bog and native deciduous woods that is a very popular birding spot during spring and fall migration.