Thursday, January 19, 2017
Sax-Zim Bog and boreal birds
While it is the allure of Great Gray Owls that lures many people to the Sax-Zim Bog of northern Minnesota, there are many other interesting birds to be found, as we shall see. I was up there for three solid days last week - my first visit - and was quite impressed with the place. January and February are obviously peak times for winter birding, but come prepared for icy cold. The first morning saw a low of minus 29 F, and the mercury was well below zero each of the following two mornings.
Sax-Zim is an interesting place. Its boundaries include black spruce bogs, cultivated fields, and mixed and deciduous woodlands. A wonderful organization, the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog, has built and staffs a new visitor's center. This building, contrary to many similar installations that see peak visitation in summer, is only open during the winter months.
Some years, other species of northern owls, most notably Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl and Boreal Owl, invade Sax-Zim in numbers during winter. This wasn't one of those years, but I hope to return when a full-fledged owl invasion is in progress.
I would have dearly loved to have spent much more time with the crossbills, but circumstances did not permit it. They are highly fascinating birds, and vital to the ecology of the boreal forests in which they live.
I look forward to a return trip to Sax-Zim Bog to catch up with the owls, crossbills, and all of the other interesting avifauna.
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