Sunday, January 16, 2005

Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin Trip to See Owl Invasion


Dear Birders and Fellow Naturalists,

Welcome to the first edition of my web page for birders. I plan to write a weekly article on items that I hope will interest my readers. Each week I will offer a different general topic on a four to five week rotating schedule. Week one will discuss birding destinations. Week two will cover back yard birds and I.D. tips. Week three will be on birds to be watchful for in the upcoming month and week four will delve into miscellaneous areas of interest.

I am originally from the coast of Maine and I have done most of my birding and naturalizing there. I am a Registered Maine Guide ( and I have run several birding field trips on foot, in sea kayaks and in canoes. While in Maine I was active with Mid-Coast Audubon ( as a director and as the field trip chair and organizing one of our Audubon Christmas Bird Counts ( I am now living west of Chicago. I also have birded extensively in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, Southern California, Washington and the mountains and rain forest of Ecuador. I am not an expert or an ornithologist. I do have a passion for birding and I would like to share with my readers what I have learned and what I think may be interesting.

Today I would like to relate some of the details of my recent trip to Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin to see the unprecedented owl invasion first hand. I participated in an organized guided trip originating in central Illinois which left on Saturday, January 8th. On our way toward the Duluth area we stopped at Crex Meadows ( in Western Wisconsin. There we had wonderful views of a Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and also saw a flock of 16 Sharp-tailed Grouse (Pedioecetes phasianellus). The grouse were “budding” in small birches and shrubs.

On Sunday the 9th we arrived at our destination north of Duluth. We birded the back roads in boggy areas around the towns of Cotton and Virginia. Heavy afternoon snow slowed our birding significantly that day but we did manage to see 15 Great Gray Owls (Strix nebulosa) and five Northern Hawk Owls (Surnia ulula). Other northern birds that day included 30 Rough-legged Hawks (Buteo lagopus), three Northern Shrikes (Lanius excubitor), 82 Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulous), Boreal Chickadees (Parus hudsonicus), Pine Grosbeaks (Pinicola enucleator), and Common Redpolls (Acanthis flammea). On Monday the 10th we again birded the area around Cotton and Virginia and then north to Zim-Sax. From there we headed east to the shore of Lake Superior at Two Harbors. We then headed to Duluth were we saw our best birds of the day. We found not one, but two Boreal Owls (Aegolius funereus). One Boreal Owl was seen very near the lighthouse, the other in a nearby town park. We ended our day in Superior, Wisconsin. Our day owl tally was amazing! We saw a total of 94 owls including 78 Great Grays, 14 Northern Hawks and the marvelous afore mentioned Boreals.

I saw 40 species on the trip. This very well could be a lifetime chance to see these owls in these concentrations. If we purposely had gone out to try and see how many owls we could see on Monday I’m sure we could have topped 200.

If you enjoy this blog then please click on the ads posted here. Until next time . . . I’ll be out and about.



Blogger Aaren said...


The term South India demarcates a geographical region comprising of the Southern Part of the Great Indian peninsula (see map). It comprises the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. In this region our primary focus is on the southern part of The Western Ghats, which runs astride Karnataka and Kerala with a portion of Tamil Nadu in between. This range of hills rise from the West coast to an altitude of up to 2500 m . Birdlife International has recognized it as one of the most important Endemic Bird Areas in Asia. It holds 20 endemic species from India , as well as another 15 species common with Sri Lanka. Most of this region is seldom visited by birders. The habitat comprises Sea beaches, inland waterways, lakes, evergreen forests, dry deciduous forests, scrub land, and grasslands.Around 550 species can be seen .The focus of our birding tours to this area as on now is the Western Ghats birding circuit starting at the town of Bangalore in Karnataka and extending to Govindperi ( Kalakkad) spilling into Tamil Nadu on Kerals's southern border. through several hot spots, looking for endemic species, and South Indian specialties. We have also included several lesser known sites.


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November 3, 2008 at 8:03 PM  

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