MINNESOTA Feb 2019: Winter Boreal Birding – day 5

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Mar 3, 2019 | by Adrian Binns

Day 5 / Feb 25 – Sax-Zim Bog 

This morning dawned cold, clear, and quiet. We departed our hotel early, with few words exchanged, knowing this was our final chance to find the elusive Great Gray Owl. We smiled at the brilliant sunrise that flashed double sun dogs. Our vehicle registered minus-16 degrees in the bog, and snow sparkled in the picturesque landscape. While scanning for Great Gray on Route 7, Kathy spotted a Northern Goshawk perched in silhouette against the rising sun. The bird flew across the road and landed again. Scope views revealed it to be a beautiful adult, all gray with a black eyebrow – a rare and wonderful treat!



We chose our route carefully, mindful of snow drifts that hadn’t been plowed off wide open roads. The Northern Hawk Owl continued at its favorite perch on McDavitt Road and also seen in flight. On North Yoki Road, we saw a pair of Canada Jays, and finally found a male Black-backed Woodpecker pecking intently on a stand of half-dead trees. Snow Buntings continued looking for grit on the railroad tracks. Finally, it was time to return back to Duluth. A quick stop at Canal Park, overlooking the frozen Lake Superior, produced a lone female Common Goldeneye huddling in a patch of open water, and a flock of flyover Common Mergansers.



Our winter boreal birding trip ended after exciting adventures, wonderful new friends, and 39 bird species. Mammal sightings included White-tailed Deer, Red Fox, Red Squirrel, and American Marten. Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun!


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