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Greg Miller Big Year Series: MINNESOTA: Winter Owls

great-gray-owl-gazing-small-binns-img_1341 Minnesota provides a wonderfully-rewarding experience to birders who venture into frigid, snow-covered landscapes during the wintertime. A short tour of the northern part of the state highlights quality over quantity, looking for elusive owls and other seasonal specialties.

Northern owls are a big attraction, especially during irruption cycles. Though occurrences vary widely from year to year, peak years may showcase exciting daytime encounters of Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Barred and Snowy Owls. Boreal Owl sightings are uncommon, recorded less than annually.

Traversing remote rural roads, touring black spruce-tamarack forests, and exploring the famous Sax-Zim Bog, we’ll look for Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, and Northern Shrike. We’ll visit local bird feeders to look for Hoary Redpolls amidst Common Redpolls and lively Black-capped Chickadees. Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Siskins and Purple Finches may also frequent feeders. With luck, we’ll catch sight of an American Marten slinking from a feeder where it grabs a quick meal!

We enjoy seeing Spruce Grouse stalk quiet forests, and Sharp-tailed Grouse foraging in open, snowy fields. We’ll scan the tops of conifers for Red and White-winged Crossbills, and check berry-laden bushes for flocks of hungry Bohemian Waxwings.

Sparkling scenery dotted with picturesque barns and frozen lakes inspires photographers, birders, and nature-lovers alike. Our short tour in February yields great appreciation for a harsh, beautiful climate. Join us for this unique experience of winter avian specialties in Minnesota!

  • Tour Cost
  • 2019 Cost :: 5-days/4-nights

    $1500 per person from Duluth, MN

     

    Price is per person, double occupancy and includes accommodations, local transportation and some meals.

     

    If a single room is preferred, a single supplement fee of $200 will be added.

     

    Included in tour cost

    Accommodations, airport transfers, local transportation.

     

    Not included

    Flights, meals, phone calls, laundry or other costs of a purely personal nature or not specifically mentioned as included.

  • Itinerary
  • Itinerary

    Note: This tour uses a single hotel for the entire trip.

     

    Day 1

    Arrive in Duluth, MN late morning or early afternoon with time to enjoy some location scouting and trip orientation. Prepare for a fun few days of seeking owls!

     

    Days 2, 3, 4

    During these three days we will enjoy many birding opportunities with owls and other species, visiting many top locations, including the well-known, Sax-Zim Bog.

     

    We will explore northern bog habitats, boreal forests and open prairies and search of our quarry, from dawn to dusk! Remember... the days are short in winter!

     

    Day 5

    Departures in late afternoon so we have a final morning in the field!

  • Accommodations
  • Standard Hotel in the Duluth, MN area.

  • Additional Info
  • The trip begins and ends in Duluth, Minnesota (Airport code: DLH), where we will be based for 4 nights.

     

    Minnesota in winter can be cold! Temperatures are often below 0F and wind chills can be well into the minus'. The ground will be frozen and likely covered in snow which will limit walking. Most of the birding will be from the roadside with occasional short walks. The terrain therefore can be uneven and icy.

     

    Daylight hours are short at this of year, about 10.5 hours, between 7am and 5.30pm.

     

    This trip is for non-smokers only. Smoking is not permitted at any time during our tour.