MINNESOTA February 2013
Sheridan Coffey and I made a last-minute decision to try to cash in on the "northern owl" invasion in the area around Duluth, Minnesota in the winter of 2012/2013. We chose to rent a 4WD in San Antonio and drive up! it was much cheaper than flying, but took two days in each direction to do the drive. We drove north on February 23, arriving in the Duluth area on February 24, and departed February 28, arriving home on March 01. We were very lucky with the weather, dodging storms in Kansas and Iowa just before our northbound trip, during our time in the Duluth area, and soon after our return drive! The weather in the Duluth area for our three-plus-a-bit days of birding was also excellent, being mostly calm, sunny and "warm" (mostly 19 - 37 degrees F; one early morning near Ely got down to -3). I must mention the local birders, who to a man/woman were friendly and very helpful with information - thanks guys! Here are photos of some of the birds we enjoyed:
Ruffed Grouse - one of a roadside pair.
Boreal Owl - our most-wanted bird for the trip, seen late in the day of our arrival.
Great Gray Owl - another top target bird, seen late in the day of our arrival.
Northern Hawk Owl - the third of the "Big Three" owls, seen on our second dayl.
Black-backed Woodpecker - a target bird for me, seen close to Ely.
Pileated and Downy Woodpeckers - the Ying and Yang of ABA-area woodpeckers, posed nicely at Minneapolis.
Gray Jay - always a favorite, however the first one here seems rather too keen on me...
Blue Jay - the feeders at Minnesota Valley NWR gave an opportunity for this flight shot.
Boreal Chickadee - patience was rewarded at the Admiral Road feeders in the Sax-Zim Bog.
Black-capped Chickadee - for us Texans it was fun to see lots of this common species, and make mental comparisons to our local Carolina Chickadees.
Common Redpoll - an excellent opportunity to study and photograph the flocks at the feeders in the Sax-Zim Bog.
Hoary Redpoll - a few candidates from among the repoll flocks at the feeders in the Sax-Zim Bog.
Pine Grosbeak - great encounters at the feeders in the Sax-Zim Bog.