Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Sax-Zim Bog


In spite of the really harsh cold snap we experienced in February, the weather in March has been quite pleasant (at least for the first 3 days). I decided to make the annual pilgrimage to Sax-Zim Bog before the northern visitors left for the year. Some birds like this Black-backed Woodpecker are year round residents but hiking through the bog is easier in winter so getting a nice look at this species is usually a winter experience.

Some birds do stay year round and are easy to find near feeders, particularly suet feeders or in this case the rib cage of a deer that was set out just for Canada Jays and Boreal Chickadees. Canada Jays recently had their name changed (reverted back) from Gray Jay. It was selected by the people of Canada as their national bird.

A couple of species that were targets for this trip were Evening Grosbeaks and Pine Grosbeaks. This was a very good year for Evening Grosbeak reproduction and I saw more this trip than I had in a long time. Back in the day when I was in college and just starting as a birder this species was the most common bird at the feeders on campus in northern Wisconsin. Their population has taken a real dive in the last 30 years and there is no one clear reason for it. Needless to say, seeing them brought back a lot of memories.

Pine Grosbeaks have been a more regular species at the feeders in the bog on previous trips. They mingle in mixed flocks with the Evening Grosbeaks and sometimes Common Redpolls. The birds were quite "chatty" the entire time I was watching them. The daylight length is getting longer and is triggering spring breeding behavior. Locally we have gained around 2 hours of daylight since the winter solstice and each day adds 3 more minutes of sunlight.

If you have never had a chance to get to Sax-Zim Bog in northern Minnesota it is a trip worth making. In fact it is a trip worth making several time over the year. Winter specialties include northern owls, most notably Great Gray Owls and Northern Hawk Owls. Summer is good for nesting warblers including Connecticut Warblers. Spring is a good time to look for Sharp-tailed Grouse and Fall migration can produce almost anything if you're in the right place at the right time. 

Even if you can't make it visit the website for the area and see what you're missing!

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