Minnesota Duluth/North Shore

Previous reports: November 30 , December 7 13 28 , January 4 10 19 .
Other Hotlines: Minnesota Statewide/Twin Cities
*Duluth/North Shore
*January 24, 1996

-Birds mentioned

Hotline: Minnesota Duluth/North Shore
Date: January 24, 1996
Sponsor: Minnesota Ornithologists' Union (MOU)
Reports: (218) 525-5952
Compiler: Kim Eckert
Transcriber: Steve Deger

This is the Duluth Birding Report for Wednesday, January 24, sponosred by the Minnesota Ornithologists Union.

Fortunately, last week's snow storm and the current severe cold spell which began last weekend has not seemed to have any negative effect on this season's invasion of northern owls. If anything, GREAT GRAYS seem even easier to find now. But the biggest birding news this week involves the presence of not one, but two GYRFALCONS in the Duluth/Superior harbor area, and on the discovery of an apparently carefully identified GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL at the Superior, Wisconsin landfill.

Since January 8th, a GYRFALCON has been seen sporadically on both the Duluth and Superior sides of the harbor. It was first identified as a gray-morph immature, but then, on the 17th, Dave Evans banded a gray-morph adult female there. Now it is apparent that two individual gyrs are present, at least there were on January 21st when Ben Yokel observed two simultaneously in downtown Duluth in the late afternoon. A gray-morph immature was perched on the First Bank building, while another gyr, presumably the adult female, flew by, heading toward the southwest. Since January 8th, most of the sightings have been in the afternoon, but the locations of these have been widely separated, and most of the birders who have been looking for them have been unsuccessful. Besides downtown Duluth last weekend, there were also sightings in Superior, along Winter Street which turns west off of Tower Avenue just north of downtown Superior, near the south side of the Interstate 535 bridge, and at the large PV grain elevator about a half mile southeast of the 535 bridge. Again, be aware of the Red-tailed Hawks which are also present in the harbor, and which might be mistaken for Gyrfalcons. There have also been a few reports of a possible PEREGRINE FALCON there, but these probably refer to a Gyrfalcon, which typically has dark sideburns, or malar stripes.

On January 22, John O'Donnell and some other Wisconsin birders carefully studied what appears to be an adult GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL at the Superior landfill. To reach this location, follow Highways 2 and 53 south all the way to the south edge of Superior, and turn left at the large sign which reads "Mocassin Mike Road and Wisconsin Point", and the landfill is at the east edge of this road. At least twelve GLAUCOUS GULLS were also present, along with a presumed ICELAND GULL. This GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL would represent the second Wisconsin record for this West Coast species. (Minnesota's first GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL was present for several days last fall in the Twin Cities.) No one has reported seeing this Wisconsin gull since Monday, but is still likely to be present and it may have been there for some time since the landfill has not been checked by birders very often this winter. If you do observe this gull, be sure to study it carefully, write down a complete description, and take some photographs if possible---since the possibility of it being a hybrid exists.

A preliminary list of the northern owls which have been reported in Northern Minnesota so far this season has been compiled, and the tentative total is 19 BOREAL OWLS, 23 SNOWY OWLS, 33 NORTHERN HAWK OWLS, and 85 GREAT GRAY OWLS. Of course, not all of these are still present, and there are undoubtedly others which I'm not aware of. If you are aware of any of these owls being seen this winter in Minnesota, which you don't have already been reported, please be sure to leave a message at the end of this tape or call me directly at 525-6930, so we have as complete a record as possible of these owls.

BOREAL OWL number nineteen was an individual seen for one day only January 20th, on the 5600 block of Lakewood Road just north of Duluth. The only SNOWY OWLS that I am aware of which are still being seen are the two or three in the Duluth/Superior harbor area which are seen by day roosting on the harbor ice south of the Port Terminal, or hunting around the grain elevators at dawn and dusk. Only one or possibly two Northern Hawk Owls are still consistently being reported, and that would be in the Sax-Zim bog area along St. Louis County Road 7 between Sax and three miles north of Sax. And good numbers of Great Grays continue to be consistently seen recently. In Duluth, look especially along Lester River Road a mile and a half to two miles north of Superior Street; along Arlington Avenue between Central Entrance and Trinity Roads, and in the Sax-Zim bog area, especially along St. Louis County Road 133 between County Road 7 and Meadowlands; and on County Road 319---which turns east off County Road 7 a mile and a half south of Zim. Other Great Grays were also seen since last weekend in the Sax-Zim bog, along County Road 28, a mile west of Sax; on County Road 52, three miles east of Toivola; and on County Road 202, five miles north of Meadowlands; and also in Duluth on Seven Bridges Road, about a half mile north of Superior Street; and on Strand Road, 1/4 mile east of North Fisher Road.

The next scheduled update of this tape will be on Thursday, February 1st, when several out-of town birders will be arriving in town, so it will be appreciated if you report any birds of note you see between now and then. We especially could use reports of any new HAWK or SNOWY OWLS; of course, any BOREAL OWLS which might show up, BLACK-BACKED or THREE-TOED WOODPECKERS, BOREAL CHICKADEES, BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, SNOW BUNTINGS, RED- and WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, and HOARY REDPOLLS.

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