February 16: Frank Nicoletti on his recently-completed tour, Minnesota in Winter.
The expansive bog lands, boreal forests, and Lake Superior shorelines of Duluth, MN and environs offer an opportunity to see specialty birds of the northern climes in winter. Rather than undergoing predictable migrations, these northern species are erratic, wandering the expanse of the boreal forest and settling where food is most abundant or, in some years, not moving at all. The cyclical crops of spruce and fir cones and the fluctuating populations of voles, for example, determine to a large extent the numbers or even the presence of winter finches and northern owls.
Even in a year that could be said to be “off” for some of these northern nomads, we nevertheless had memorable encounters with many of the birds that make winter in the north so enticing to birders: Black-backed Woodpecker, Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, Bohemian Waxwing, Great Gray, Snowy and Northern Hawk Owl, and Spruce and Sharp-tailed Grouse, just to name a few.
Our January travels through northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin could only be called balmy with temperatures often in the mid 30’s and once reaching 40 degrees!
Great Gray Owl - image: Duane Morse
Gray Jay - image: Duane Morse
Ruffed grouse - image: Duane Morse
Spruce Grouse - image: Duane Morse
Posted: February 16, 2017