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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Minnesota and North Dakota

North Woods to Prairies

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES: Non-U.S. citizens will need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa. Consult your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for details. Canadian citizens should carry proof of citizenship in the form of a passport or birth certificate.

PACE OF THE TOUR:  We will be rising very early each morning in order to be in the field at or before sunrise (around 5:00 am). There will also be several late evenings during the course of the tour to look for rails and/or owls although such forays will always be optional. We’ll make every effort to mitigate the effects of these long days by scheduling time to rest in our motels before supper. 

There will be moderate to long drives between destinations on several days.  

As a rule breakfasts and lunches will either be taken in restaurants or sandwich shops and in good weather, when appropriate, the leader will purchase supplies which will either be eaten while travelling or in the field. With unforeseen exceptions suppers will be relaxed sit-down affairs in restaurants near the motels.

Most walking will be gentle along well-maintained gravel roads and trails. The exception will be for certain species like Connecticut Warbler and Yellow Rail that may require us to walk in damp to wet meadows and bogs. Please note that we do not make this walk every year as it depends upon water levels. If we do venture into the marsh we will be walking in ankle- to knee-deep water across hummocks which will require being able to lift your feet relatively high and set each down again on potentially unstable substrate, balancing ability and stamina (although the pace will be slow). Expeditions into the marsh are always optional and this is not for everybody. There may be the occasional longer walks, especially on the first day, which may be several hours long.

HEALTH: Birdwatching in Minnesota poses no major health hazards. 

Insects: Biting insects can be numerous on several of the mornings and evenings with mosquitoes being the major adversary although we may also encounter blackflies. Those with an allergic reaction to mosquito or blackfly bites may wish to consult their physician. Long sleeves and insect repellents work well to prevent bites. Head nets are generally not recommended as they’re hot and make binocular use very difficult, but you may want to bring one anyway, if you have the space, in case the mosquitos are too bothersome. We can expect to encounter wood ticks in a few locations and deer ticks exist in small numbers in AitkinCounty.

Sun: The days are long, the sun is strong. Wide brim hats and sunscreen are important.

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

CLIMATE: Early mornings may be as cool as 35-40º F (circa 4º C) in some locations with temperatures warming to 65-90º F (18-32° C) during the day. On rare occasions, we have experienced highs only in the 50s F (10-16° C) to as high as 103F. Rain is possible anytime and we can expect it at some point during the tour (though it is usually brief). 

ACCOMMODATIONS: We will be staying in comfortable standard hotels throughout the trip, all within close walking distance of a restaurant or restaurants. 

Our hotels have good Wi-Fi connections. Cell phone signal is good near our lodging locations but can be intermittent when in the field 

FOOD:  Food is good American standard. We try to visit a variety of restaurants and cuisines throughout the tour.

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

TRANSPORTATION: We will be traveling by leader-driven 15-passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size. When using 15-passenger window vans, we will take a maximum of seven passengers plus the leader/driver. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles.

Updated: 22 September 2023