Minnesota Duluth/North Shore

Previous reports: December 13 28 , January 4 10 19 24 , February 10 .
Other Hotlines: Minnesota Statewide/Twin Cities
*Duluth/North Shore
*February 15, 1996

-Birds mentioned

Hotline: Minnesota Duluth/North Shore
Date: February 15, 1996
Sponsor: Minnesota Ornithologists' Union (MOU)
Reports: (218) 525-5952
Compiler: Kim Eckert
Transcriber: Joan Morrison

As most callers are probably aware, temperatures in the minus thirties and minus forties were common in northern Minnesota last week with an all-time lowest record of 60 below zero reached last week at Tower, about 80 miles north of Duluth.

Despite all this, a lot of birders were still active then and this week also and so far, it looks like all of the birders and most of the birds survived, although now it appears that GREAT GRAY OWLS are harder to find in the Sax-Zim bog area and NORTHERN SHRIKES have also seemed to have mostly disappeared.

The owl situation in the coming days bears watching, however, since the combination of freezing rain two days ago and the alternate thawing and freezing temperatures prevailing now has created an icy crust on the snow cover, which will make it harder for GREAT GRAY and BOREAL OWLS to find prey. And there could be increasing die-off and increasing sightings of owls in yards and along roadsides.

But for the time being, virtually every Northern Minnesota winter resident has been reported since the first of February, including HARLEQUIN DUCKS, GYRFALCONS, SPRUCE GROUSE, GLAUCOUS, ICELAND and THAYER'S GULLS, BOREAL, GREAT GRAY, HAWK and and SNOWY OWLS, THREE-TOED and BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS, BOREAL CHICKADEE, BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS, SNOW BUNTINGS and all the Winter Finches, including the HOARY REDPOLL.

Yesterday, Ken LaFond of the Twin Cities found an immature female HARLEQUIN DUCK in the town of Ranier, east of International Falls. It was seen near the railroad bridge near the Rainy River.

One GYRFALCON, and possibly two, has frequently been seen in the Duluth/ Superior Harbar area and it has been easier to find recently. For four consecutive days, Feb. 2 through the 5th, it was seen in the early afternoon between 1 and 3 p.m. at the Cargill Grain Elevator on the Duluth side of the harbor, and hopefully it will continue this pattern. It was also seen late afternoon yesterday in downtown Duluth.

A lone SPRUCE GROUSE was seen at dawn Feb. 5 in the traditional area on Lake County Rd. 2 about 43 miles north of Two Harbors or 3 miles south of MN Highway 1. Another SPRUCE GROUSE was seen this morning on Highway 1, NW of County Rd. 2 between Mile Markers 302 and 303.

Recently a GREAT GRAY OWL was seen on County Rd. 2 near the Sand River, about 41. 5 miles North of Two Harbors and a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER was also seen on County Rd. 2, about 41 miles north of Two Harbors.

Both THREE-TOED and BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS were seen on the Spruce Road in Lake County, which turns north off of Highway 1, about 14 miles northwest of the County Road 2 intersection. The Three-toed was 4/10th of a mile up the Spruce Road and the Black-backed at the end of this road, about four miles up.

In spite of the cold, good numbers of gulls are still present in the Superior, WI landfill, which is located at the south end of Wisconsin Point. Estimates have run as high as 40 or more GLAUCOUS GULLS being present and various observers have reported seeing both first winter and adult ICELAND and THAYER'S GULLS, so it is unclcear which of these species, or both, is actually present. Note that an apparent adult GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL was also reported there in January.

A BOREAL OWL was seen again both Feb. 3 and 7 in two or three yards near the junction of Lakewood and Lakewood Junction Roads, 4 miles north of Highway 61. Lakewood Road turns north off of Highway 61, three miles beyond the Lester River. Please note that we do not have permission to enter any of the yards where the owls have been seen off and on since Jan. 20. But the owl is usually seen perched near the bird feeders, which are visible from the road at the corner of Lakewood and Lakewood Junction Road and just west of here on the Lakewood Junction Road South. Also watch for a GREAT GRAY OWL which was found near this junction last weekend.

Some of the other Great Grays reported recently include: -two on the Rice Lake Road, or County Rd 4, one of these at the junction of Airport Road and the other, several miles further north near the Junction of Pioneer Road -on Carleton County Road 1, 3 to 4 miles north of Esko -two in Aitkin County, one in the southern part of the county on MN Highway 65 at milepost 92 and the other on MN Highway 200 just west of Jacobson. -In the Sax-Zim bog area, look especially in the vicinity of the junction of County Roads 7 and 133, near Sax, both 1 1/2 miles West on County Road 28 and 1.5 miles south on Cty Rd. 7, and on Cty Rd. 319 off Cty Rd 7, 1.5 miles south and 1 mile east of Zim.

At this latter location, a NORTHERN HAWK OWL was also found last weekend and it was still being seen as of yesterday. Two other Hawk Owls were also found in the Sax Zim Bog last weekend, one of these on Cty Rd 7, 3 miles north of Sax and the other on Cty Rd 52, 4.5 miles west of Cty Rd 7. But niether of these two could be found subsequently. Another Hawk Owl was also seen yesterday father northwest of Duluth, southeast of the town of Little Fork, on Cty Rd 8, 7.5 miles south of MN Highay 217.

The usual few SNOWY OWLS are still present in the Duluth/Superior harbor area with the most sightings in the Port Terminal Area in Duluth in the late afternoon.

BOREAL CHICKADEES have been seen in three traditional locations in the Sax Zim bog and that is along Cty Rd 203, both 1/2 and 1 miles south of Cty Rd 52 and on Cty Rd 211, 1/2 mile N of Cty Rd. 133. Note that a map of the Sax Zim bog can be on Page 20 of a "Birder's Guide to Minnesota."

Small flocks of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS continue to be reported at various locations around Duluth but none are staying at any location for long and they contine to be hard to find.

The only SNOW BUNTINGS reported recently have been see in the Sax Zim bog along Cty Rd 52, 1/2 mile east of Cty Rd 7.

And finally, all the winter finches are still being seen at various locations in various numbers.

The next scheduled update of this tape will be on Thursday, Feb. 22, but in the meantime for further birding information, you could call Mike Hendrickson at 726-0840 or Ben Yokel at 482-3284. If you have birds to report, you can either report them to Ben or Mike or, as always, leave a message after the tone at the end of this tape.

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