Tour Dates: This tour can be run upon request
Connecticut Warbler (Oporornis agilis) is one of the most sought after members of the Parulidae family, the North American wood warblers. A ground loving skulker, Connecticut Warbler nests far from its namesake state in the remote spruce and tamarack bogs, alder swamps and upland deciduous woodlands of northeast Minnesota.
Our tour will explore this verdant landscape in search of Connecticut Warbler and other inhabitants of the sedge meadows, grasslands, woodlands, scrub and thicket habitats or northeast Minnesota. We will explore the famous Sax-Zim Bog region which boasts 240 species and the surrounding boreal forest which house species like Great Gray Owl, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Ruffed Grouse, Gray Jay, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Golden-winged Warbler and 20 more New World Warbler species. As we discover the wildlife here we may also encounter Porcupine, Fisher, Black Bear, Snowshoe Hare and if we are lucky, Gray Wolf.
Day 1: Plan to arrive in Duluth, Minnesota (Airport code: DLH) to meet our group and depart for McGregor by 2 PM. We will arrive in McGregor, check into our hotel and gather for an early dinner and then head out for an evening birding trip to search for Great Gray Owl along the roadsides of northern Aitkin County or try for Yellow Rail in McGregor Marsh.
Days 2-4: Over the next days we’ll explore bird-filled boreal forests of northeast Minnesota and more open habitats of Northern Aitkin County and the Sax-Zim Bog region. These tamarack bogs, alder brushlands, sedge meadows, and upland fields house many highly prized species and we’ll maximize our time in the field to take advantage of what is on offer. Aitkin County and the Sax-Zim Bog Region are world renowned as prime locations for Connecticut Warbler and we’ll focus our efforts on finding this species while taking in other inhabitants of this impressive northern boreal forest.
As we explore this vast and varied area, we’ll also keep eyes and ears open for Sharp-tailed Grouse, Le Conte’s Sparrow (Photo: Steve Bird), Sedge Wren, Bobolink, Upland Sandpiper, Golden-winged Warbler, and Yellow-bellied and Olive-sided Flycatcher to name a few. Forests should be alive with passerines including vireos, flycatchers, cuckoos, kinglets, thrushes and warblers galore. Beauties such as Blackburnian, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Mourning, Canada and at least a dozen more species are to be expected. A nice variety of sparrows should be vocally conspicuous—literally filling the air with their songs—and we’ll hope to cross paths with more scarce residents as Northern Goshawk, Three-toed Woodpecker, and, with a bit of luck, Great Gray Owl. One evening we’ll visit the famous McGregor Marsh to look/listen for Yellow Rail. Encounters with mammals are possible and we could see Snowshoe Hare, Porcupine, Black Bear, Fisher or if we are very lucky, Gray Wolf. Our itinerary on these days will no doubt involve early starts to make the most of the day and be flexible so that we can maximize our chances of seeing this special region’s birds and wildlife.
Day 5: This morning we will take time to go looking for any species we might have missed and maybe some new locations, depending upon our needs list. By late morning, we will return to the airport in Duluth for departures after 2 PM.
BOREAL EXTENSION: 3 days
Those wishing to spend a few more days in Minnesota can explore the boreal region of the Superior National Forest. Here we hope to find species like Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, Cape May Warbler and others. We’ll leave from Duluth and head a few hours into the Iron Range spending two nights and then returning to Duluth mid-day for departures.