Thursday, February 13, 2020

A Trip to Sax-Zim Bog

I decided to take a run up to the Sax-Zim Bog area of northern Minnesota last week to take advantage of good weather and to avoid the visitors arriving the following weekend for the annual Sax-Sim Bird Festival. There were some good birds around and I wanted to see them without having to fight the crowds.

I wasn't disappointed even though I didn't see all the species I had expected.

I was by myself when I ran into some cooperative Canada Jays foraging along one of the road sides. They didn't seem to be bothered by me as I tried to get close.

I got real nice views of the birds at the feeders along Admiral Road along with the regulars like Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches.

The "best" birds of the day were the owls. While Sax-Zim is famous as a location to see Great Gray Owls but I didn't luck onto one of them that day. I did observe a very nice Barred Owl hunting mice below the bird feeders at the Winterberry Bog location. In spite of there being an audience, this bird was successfully hunting.

The real gem for me for the day was this Boreal Owl. It had been a very dependable bird at a feeder station and I was glad to see it still there. While I was getting these pictures, I ran into 4 other friends at this location that I didn't know were coming to the bog. It can be a pretty small world at a good birding site.

I saw 2 other owl species but didn't get good photos. Snowy Owl and Northern Hawk Owl gave me a total of 4 owl species for the trip!

I also had a lot of the usual feeder birds like this Hairy Woodpecker. Also saw Red-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker and Bluejay BUT didn't see any grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls or Boreal Chickadees.

I did see Black-backed Woodpecker and Black-billed Magpie late in the day.

If you have the chance to get to the bog there is probably just another 3-4 weeks left before these winter visitors head back north. Don't put off your visit!

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