Minnesota Duluth/North Shore

Previous reports: October 17 25 31 , November 7 14 21 , December 5 12 .
Other Hotlines: Minnesota Statewide/Twin Cities
*Duluth/North Shore
*December 13, 1996

-Birds mentioned

Hotline: Minnesota Duluth/North Shore
Date: December 13, 1996
Sponsor: Minnesota Ornithologists' Union (MOU)
Reports: (218)525 5952
Compiler: Kim Eckert
Transcriber: Barb Adams badams@fac1.css.edu
Re-transcriber: David Cahlander dac@skypoint.com

This is the Duluth Birding Report for Friday, December 13, sponsored by the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union. And this update is a day late because a cold and sore throat yesterday would have made this tape difficult for me to do.

The bird of primary interest this is week is a possible SLATY-BACKED GULL, an adult, which was discovered by Karl Bardon of the Twin Cities and Peder Svingen at the Superior Wisconsin landfill on December 7. It is probably still present, as it was seen again at the dump on December 10 and 11. When not at the dump it spends its time roosting with the gulls out on Lake Superior and is too far away to be identified. To reach the landfill follow highways 2 and 53 South all the way to the edge of Superior and turn left at the large sign which reads Moccasin Mike Road, Lake Superior Wisconsin Point. Follow this road straight east a mile and a half to the landfill.

The landfill is open Monday-Friday 7 am to 2:30 pm, on Saterday only 8:30 am to 11:30 am, and is closed on Sunday. Although it is ok to hike in when the dump is closed. Just before coming to the dump you can turn left and go 3 1/2 miles to the end of the road at the Superior entry channel, which forms the Minnesota/Wisconsin state line and on one occasion the gull was seen there on the Minnesota side.

Remember that the identification of this species is difficult and this gull has not yet been positively identified, although it may indeed prove to be a Slaty-backed, which would be a first state record for both Wisconsin and Minnesota after more research is done and after there are better looks at or photographs of a few features. When looking for this gull, note that its mantel is on the paler end of the spectrum, for a SLATY-BACKED; that is, it is paler than a Lesser Black-backed Gull, about the same shade of dark gray as the California Gull. Also try to see and carefully describe, or preferably photograph, any marking you see on the bird's head behind the eye and the exact pattern on both the upper and lower surfaces of the outer primaries when the wings are spread.

Even if this gull is not present there are a lot of other gulls in the area, including several GLAUCOUS GULLS and THAYER'S GULLS, two first winter ICELAND GULLS and a possible adult and a late lingering RING-BILLED GULL.

About the only other birds reported of note this week are GREAT GREY OWLS, HAWK OWLS and SNOWY OWLS in St. Louis and Aitkin Counties. In the Sax-Zim Bog area northwest of Duluth yesterday, GREAT GREY OWLS were seen in two locations. One on St. Louis Cty Rd. 7, about a mile North of Sax and on Cty Rd. 319 , 0.5 mile East of Cty Rd 7. Also yesterday a NORTHERN HAWK OWL was found on Cty Rd 319, one mile East of 7. In Aitkin County, the three NORTHERN HAWK OWLS previously reported were still present this week, near the intersection of Cty Rd 18 and 5, on Cty Rd 68, 1 mile East of US Hwy 69, and the third on Cty Rd 6 less than a mile North of Tamarack. Two Aitkin Cty GREAT GREY OWLS have also been seen recently. One on Cty Rd 5, 1.5 miles South of Cty Rd 18, and on Cty Rd 18, 2 miles West of Cty Rd 5. SNOWY OWLS continue to be seen at various Aitkin County locations and in the Duluth Harbor area. But in Duluth this week or within the Duluth CBC circle, there have been no reports of Great Greys or Hawk Owls.

As announced on previous tapes, the Duluth Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will be held on Saturday, December 21. Our center of our standard 15 mile diameter circle is at the main overlook at Hawk Ridge. It extends up the North Shore as far as the French River, north to Eagle Lake, west to Wild Rice Lake and the Airport, and in the Harbor area as far as 27th Ave. West and to 43rd St. on Park Point. The birding groups have all been assigned to their areas within this circle, and those with feeders are asked to report what they see at their feeders on Dec. 21 by calling 728-0105, which is the number where the CBC compilation and potluck dinner will be held. The best time to call would be between 5 and 7:00 pm on the 21st. Persons are asked to start keeping an eye open now for those hard to find species that often elude us on count days.

In addition to the obvious rarities such AS Townsend's Solitaire, Varied Thrush, Brown Thrasher, and many other possibilities which are literally too numerous to mention, please give me a call at 525-6930 or leave a message after the tone on this tape if you see any of the following species between now and Dec. 21, so special effort can be made to relocate these birds on Count Day. Any water birds, except Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser and Herring Gull; any hawks or owls; any woodpeckers except Downy, Hairy or Pileated; Gray Jay; Boreal Chickadee; Brown Creeper; Golden-crowned Kinglet; either Cedar or Bohemian Waxwings -- unlike most years, Bohemians are scarce and are being outnumbered by Cedars; Northern Cardinal; any sparrow except House Sparrow; Snow Buntings; any blackbirds, which would include Common Grackle; Pine Grosbeak, usually this species is present but I have received very few reports of it lately; Purple Finch, which are being seen more often than normal; House Finch; either species of Crossbills, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS have been seen at various locations lately, but Reds have been more scarce; either Common or Hoary Redpolls, normally common have not been a problem on this count but this fall they have been very scarce; Pine Siskin, also like common redpoll and pine grosbeak--usually not a problem, but very few of them have been seen; and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, which like the PURPLE FINCH is currently being seen in greater than normal numbers.

The next scheduled update of this tape will be on Thursday, December 19.

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