Sax Zim Bog Bird Festival

This past weekend I got to attend the first ever Bird Festival at the world famous Sax Zim Bog. Never heard of it? Well, if you are a birder, you have heard of this legendary bog located in northeastern Minnesota. The festival was headquartered in MEADOWLANDS, MN; a tiny town of 111 people. The townspeople banded together to make this birding festival happen. Mike Hendrickson, a birding guide from Duluth, helped organize the event and he did an excellent job!
150 people attended the festivites which included evening speakers and field trips during the day. The logisitics of organizing an event like this are staggering. Birders came from 21 states, a couple as far away as California. Some of the birds that are seen here in the winter are very special and many of them are ‘lifers’ for┬ápeople.

I think the festival was a smashing success. While no Great Gray Owls were sighted by our field trip on Saturday, there were plenty of other birds to keep everyone satisfied. And all the northern specialties showed up. Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers were easily seen by all the field trip group participants. Evening and Pine Grosbeaks were seen in good numbers, and Common and Hoary Redpolls joined the party as well.

Our group saw a special ‘out of range’ bird, the Red-bellied Woodpecker. This woodpecker has been increasing it’s range northward and now is considered a regular in the twin cities area, but up in northern Minnesota in the bog? That is special.

Before lunch, we saw the Northern Hawk-owl that has been hanging out in the same place for a few weeks. Once they find an area to hunt, this bird will stay around for a while. The bird was perched at the very tippy top of a big spruce tree when we pulled up and we all got good looks, then he left his perch and swooped down into the adjacent field. The trip leaders kept their eyes on him and when the bird came back to his perch he had a big vole in his talons! Wow!, the vole was almost as big as he was. What a great sighting!

Here are some extraordinary photos that were captured by one of our field trip members.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterschoenberger

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