Minnesota: Owls and winter Finches

5 day tour:   Run upon request

Owls and winter birds of northern Minnesota

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Boreal Owl

This tour is timed so as to try to find the maximum number of species possible.

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Common Redpoll

It’s early enough that all the winter birds will still be present in good numbers, but late enough that we may possibly catch lekking Sharp-tailed Grouse.  The tour will be based out of Duluth, MN and we will make day-trips from there.  Breakfasts will be early at the hotel, lunches on the road.  We do not provide food, but will make a stop at a grocery store at the end of each day to allow participants to grab lunch for the following day.  Dinners will be at local restaurants.
The tour will begin with a couple of day-trips to Sax-Zim Bog to look for common winter birds and owls.  An afternoon and a morning will be spent looking for any special wintering birds in the Duluth area and we’ll make a day-trip each to Aitkin County and Lake County to look for Sharp-tailed Grouse and Spruce Grouse respectively.

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Gray Jay

This tour will begin and end in Duluth
Itinerary is subject to change depending on location of desired birds and local birding reports.
(Note: allow a day on either end for travel to and from the meeting point)

Itinerary:

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N Hawk-owl

Day 0:
Pickup at the airport, settle into our hotel, dinner, etc.

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Boreal Chickadee

Day 1:
We will begin the morning with a pre-sunrise run to the world-famous Sax-Zim Bog birding area. Upon arrival, we will check a few spots for lekking Sharp-tailed Grouse. In the bog, we will visit feeders and sort through winter finches. Both Redpolls should be present along with Pine Siskin, Pine and Evening Grosbeak and other northern feeder birds. One of the feeders we will visit is known as the best place in the country to see Boreal Chickadee.  During the course of the day, we’ll spend time looking for Northern Hawk-owl, Northern Shrike, Rough-legged Hawk and various other open country birds.  Sax-Zim Bog is the easternmost point within the range of Black-billed Magpie.   We will spend the evening looking for Great Gray Owl before heading back to Duluth for the night.

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Great Gray Owl

Day 2:
This day will start with an early run to McDavitt Rd where we will spend time looking for Black-backed Woodpecker. The rest of the day will be spent in Sax-Zim cleaning up on anything we missed that is easier there than elsewhere.  We’ll come back to Duluth for lunch and spend the afternoon birding around Duluth, searching for overwintering specialties such as Townsend’s Solitaire, Varied Thrush, various ducks, etc. We’ll also make a stop at Canal Park to check through the flock of wintering Gulls for any rarer or unusual species such as Thayer’s, Iceland, Glaucous, either Black-backed, etc. In previous years, Slaty-backed and Glaucous-winged have been present.  Night in Duluth.

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Bohemian Waxwings

Day 3:
early morning run to Lake County where we will search for Spruce Grouse, Red Crossbill and possibly Black-backed and Three-toed Woodpeckers among other things. We’ll return via the beautiful and spectacular north shore of Lake Superior.

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Snowy Owl

Day 4:
We will make a run to Aitkin County to look for Sharp-tailed Grouse and anything else that is being seen. Aitkin County is well known as the best place in Minnesota to search for Sharp-tailed Grouse.   We will include a swing back through Sax-Zim in the afternoon if we have time.  Night in Duluth.

Day 5:
We’ll spend the morning birding various parks around Duluth and the tip of Lake Superior before deciding what else we need to clean up on.  We may make a loop into Wisconsin, either east towards Ashland or possibly south.  Night in Duluth.

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Townsend’s Solitaire

Day 6:
Fly home

2 thoughts on “Minnesota: Owls and winter Finches

  1. I will be in town for a convention in Duluth but might want to join this tour for a day if that is possible? Am open during the day February 4 and 5.

    Lisa Brohl

  2. Hi Chris, this sounds like the kind of trip we are looking for but we are only available the week after this scheduled trip. Many thanks, Tom Brockmeyer

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