Pine Grosbeak  ~  Lon Baumgardt photo (Sax-Zim Bog / January 5)



Well, even Sandy (the photographer) would admit it’s not the best photo of the Tufted Duck behind Pier B Hotel, but no one else in the first MBW group (hereafter, MBW I) apparently was able to get a better image. So, we’ll take it – not only as just the 2nd-ever Minnesota record ever (pending MOURC acceptance), but also as #364 on the all-time MBWeekends composite list! Unfortunately, though, it failed to appear for the second MBW group (MBW II), just as it has eluded others on some days since its discovery on December 11. But at least both groups were able to see the King Eider at Brighton Beach, and this time Sandy was able to get a much better photo.


Besides these two rare ducks, there really weren’t that many other  unexpected birds to highlight here. True, both groups saw all three of the northern owls during a half day’s birding in the Sax-Zim Bog – and isn’t it odd that finding Great Gray, Northern Hawk, and Snowy owls doesn’t really qualify as anything all that unusual!


And the same could be said for all the other northern Minnesota specialties we came up with on at least one of the MBWs: Sharp-tailed Grouse (but why are they displaying in winter, and not until an hour or two after sunrise?!), Iceland and Glaucous gulls (plus a relatively rare Great Black-backed on MBW II), Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Canada Jay, Black-billed Magpie, Boreal Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing, both grosbeaks, and both crossbills (somewhat unexpectedly). Yawn...


Even the weather mercifully failed to be newsworthy, as both MBWs experienced tolerable conditions for the most part. (Although we would have had a rough day on January 7 if I had not decided to cancel that post-MBW day.) Accordingly, MBW II was a day longer, resulting in more time to come up with more species (41) than MBW I (37) –  with a composite total of 48 for both MBWs combined. However, those on MBW I also listed a River Otter at Brighton Beach, a Porcupine on Admiral Rd, and a few of us even got a brief view of a Pine Marten on Admiral. And a few in the group can even boast they saw a House Sparrow by the Welcome Center in the Bog – a new addition to the Center’s yard list!               


Bird List


I = seen only on the first MBW, January 5-6

II = see only on the second MBW, January 11-12-13

(species not annotated with I or II were seen on both MBWs)

  

Mallard

American Black Duck

Tufted Duck          I

Lesser Scaup          II

King Eider

Common Goldeneye

Red-breasted Merganser          II

Common Merganser         I

(Ring-necked Pheasant / escape)

Ruffed Grouse          II

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Wild Turkey

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove          II

Herring Gull

Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull          II

Glaucous Gull         I

Great Black-backed Gull          II

Bald Eagle

Snowy Owl

Northern Hawk Owl

Great Gray Owl

Black-backed Woodpecker (seen on II; heard-only on I)

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Northern Shrike

Canada Jay

Blue Jay

Black-billed Magpie          II

American Crow

Common Raven

Black-capped Chickadee

Boreal Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch          II

American Robin          II

European Starling

Bohemian Waxwing          II

House Sparrow

Evening Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

Common Redpoll

Red Crossbill         I

White-winged Crossbill

Pine Siskin          II

American Goldfinch         I

White-throated Sparrow         I

Red-winged Blackbird         I







*          *          *



~  WINTER DULUTH MBWEEKENDS SUMMARY  ~

January 5-6, 2019 and January 11-12-13, 2019


Tufted Duck  ~  Sandy Aubol photo (Pier B Hotel / January 6)

King Eider  ~  Sandy Aubol photo (Brighton Beach / January 5)

Glaucous Gull  ~  Lon Baumgardt photo (Canal Park / January 6)

Northern Hawk Owl  ~  Robert Decandido photo (Sax-Zim Bog / January 11)

Boreal Chickadee  ~  Lon Baumgardt photo (Sax-Zim Bog / January 6)

Photo by Heidi Kirsch Novak

Photo by Clinton Nienhaus

Well, given the two nice pictures above, this MBW summary might just as well end here! Needless to say, this completely unexpected Barn Owl was something pretty special. It represents only the 7th record for northern MN – two of these were also in winter in or near Duluth, the others were in Polk, Beltrami, Hubbard, and Cook counties, and the most “recent” of these was back in 1986. It’s also #366 on the all-time MBWeekends list, and only the second one I’ve ever seen in MN. (Note as well the recent report that the property owners had been seeing this owl there for about a month, and that some birders apparently had a brief and tentative ID there on January 1.)


But, of course, there are some other things worth mentioning from this final MBWeekend of our 34th season. Our composite list for the three days managed to reach 35 species, which is probably about average for this MBW, but it would have only been about 30 if an impromptu stop Sunday afternoon at the Lester River hadn’t added 3 duck species (plus a goldeneye; already seen Friday) and a single gull (finally!) to the list. Our more significant highlights – all from The Bog, of course – included Sharp-tailed Grouse, an unexpected Snowy Owl (plus another Friday in Superior, WI), two N. Hawk Owls (the one on McDavitt Rd was unexpected), a pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers (but, alas, we missed the Am. Three-toed), Evening Grosbeak, plus some shrikes, magpies, and Canada Jays. And, yes, we did see a Great Gray Owl, Minnesota’s #1 sought-after specialty, but it was much farther away than we would have liked.


I suppose you could say the weather was one of our highlights, too, since 2 of our 3 days had no wind to deal with, and two of the days were clear – and you have to admit that snow squall early Sunday as we approached Two Harbors was pretty impressive. In a way, then, the weather was more cooperative than some of the birds, as this has been a very slow winter for some winter specialties – especially gulls, Boreal Chickadees, Bohemian Waxwings, and just about all the finches.



Bird List


Mallard (Sunday-only; Lester R)

American Black Duck (ditto)

Common Goldeneye

Red-breasted Merganser (ditto)

Ruffed Grouse

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Wild Turkey

Rock Pigeon

Herring Gull (Sunday-only)

Bald Eagle

Rough-legged Hawk

Barn Owl

Snowy Owl

Northern Hawk Owl

Great Gray Owl

Black-backed Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Northern Shrike

Canada Jay

Blue Jay

Black-billed Magpie

American Crow

Common Raven

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

European Starling

House Sparrow

Evening Grosbeak

Pine Siskin (Sunday-only; Lake CR 2)

American Goldfinch

White-throated Sparrow (Friday-only; Canal Park)



PHOTO GALLERY

(photo 1 by Rose Shea; photos 2-5 by Leslie Gillette)


*          *          *



WINTER DULUTH MBW SUMMARY

January 10 - 11 - 12, 2020


Pine Grosbeak  ~  Lon Baumgardt photo (Sax-Zim Bog / January 5)



Well, even Sandy (the photographer) would admit it’s not the best photo of the Tufted Duck behind Pier B Hotel, but no one else in the first MBW group (hereafter, MBW I) apparently was able to get a better image. So, we’ll take it – not only as just the 2nd-ever Minnesota record ever (pending MOURC acceptance), but also as #364 on the all-time MBWeekends composite list! Unfortunately, though, it failed to appear for the second MBW group (MBW II), just as it has eluded others on some days since its discovery on December 11. But at least both groups were able to see the King Eider at Brighton Beach, and this time Sandy was able to get a much better photo.


Besides these two rare ducks, there really weren’t that many other  unexpected birds to highlight here. True, both groups saw all three of the northern owls during a half day’s birding in the Sax-Zim Bog – and isn’t it odd that finding Great Gray, Northern Hawk, and Snowy owls doesn’t really qualify as anything all that unusual!


And the same could be said for all the other northern Minnesota specialties we came up with on at least one of the MBWs: Sharp-tailed Grouse (but why are they displaying in winter, and not until an hour or two after sunrise?!), Iceland and Glaucous gulls (plus a relatively rare Great Black-backed on MBW II), Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Canada Jay, Black-billed Magpie, Boreal Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing, both grosbeaks, and both crossbills (somewhat unexpectedly). Yawn...


Even the weather mercifully failed to be newsworthy, as both MBWs experienced tolerable conditions for the most part. (Although we would have had a rough day on January 7 if I had not decided to cancel that post-MBW day.) Accordingly, MBW II was a day longer, resulting in more time to come up with more species (41) than MBW I (37) –  with a composite total of 48 for both MBWs combined. However, those on MBW I also listed a River Otter at Brighton Beach, a Porcupine on Admiral Rd, and a few of us even got a brief view of a Pine Marten on Admiral. And a few in the group can even boast they saw a House Sparrow by the Welcome Center in the Bog – a new addition to the Center’s yard list!               


Bird List


I = seen only on the first MBW, January 5-6

II = see only on the second MBW, January 11-12-13

(species not annotated with I or II were seen on both MBWs)

  

Mallard

American Black Duck

Tufted Duck          I

Lesser Scaup          II

King Eider

Common Goldeneye

Red-breasted Merganser          II

Common Merganser         I

(Ring-necked Pheasant / escape)

Ruffed Grouse          II

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Wild Turkey

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove          II

Herring Gull

Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull          II

Glaucous Gull         I

Great Black-backed Gull          II

Bald Eagle

Snowy Owl

Northern Hawk Owl

Great Gray Owl

Black-backed Woodpecker (seen on II; heard-only on I)

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Northern Shrike

Canada Jay

Blue Jay

Black-billed Magpie          II

American Crow

Common Raven

Black-capped Chickadee

Boreal Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch          II

American Robin          II

European Starling

Bohemian Waxwing          II

House Sparrow

Evening Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

Common Redpoll

Red Crossbill         I

White-winged Crossbill

Pine Siskin          II

American Goldfinch         I

White-throated Sparrow         I

Red-winged Blackbird         I







*          *          *



~  WINTER DULUTH MBWEEKENDS SUMMARY  ~

January 5-6, 2019 and January 11-12-13, 2019


Tufted Duck  ~  Sandy Aubol photo (Pier B Hotel / January 6)

King Eider  ~  Sandy Aubol photo (Brighton Beach / January 5)

Glaucous Gull  ~  Lon Baumgardt photo (Canal Park / January 6)

Northern Hawk Owl  ~  Robert Decandido photo (Sax-Zim Bog / January 11)

Boreal Chickadee  ~  Lon Baumgardt photo (Sax-Zim Bog / January 6)

Photo by Heidi Kirsch Novak

Photo by Clinton Nienhaus

Well, given the two nice pictures above, this MBW summary might just as well end here! Needless to say, this completely unexpected Barn Owl was something pretty special. It represents only the 7th record for northern MN – two of these were also in winter in or near Duluth, the others were in Polk, Beltrami, Hubbard, and Cook counties, and the most “recent” of these was back in 1986. It’s also #366 on the all-time MBWeekends list, and only the second one I’ve ever seen in MN. (Note as well the recent report that the property owners had been seeing this owl there for about a month, and that some birders apparently had a brief and tentative ID there on January 1.)


But, of course, there are some other things worth mentioning from this final MBWeekend of our 34th season. Our composite list for the three days managed to reach 35 species, which is probably about average for this MBW, but it would have only been about 30 if an impromptu stop Sunday afternoon at the Lester River hadn’t added 3 duck species (plus a goldeneye; already seen Friday) and a single gull (finally!) to the list. Our more significant highlights – all from The Bog, of course – included Sharp-tailed Grouse, an unexpected Snowy Owl (plus another Friday in Superior, WI), two N. Hawk Owls (the one on McDavitt Rd was unexpected), a pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers (but, alas, we missed the Am. Three-toed), Evening Grosbeak, plus some shrikes, magpies, and Canada Jays. And, yes, we did see a Great Gray Owl, Minnesota’s #1 sought-after specialty, but it was much farther away than we would have liked.


I suppose you could say the weather was one of our highlights, too, since 2 of our 3 days had no wind to deal with, and two of the days were clear – and you have to admit that snow squall early Sunday as we approached Two Harbors was pretty impressive. In a way, then, the weather was more cooperative than some of the birds, as this has been a very slow winter for some winter specialties – especially gulls, Boreal Chickadees, Bohemian Waxwings, and just about all the finches.



Bird List


Mallard (Sunday-only; Lester R)

American Black Duck (ditto)

Common Goldeneye

Red-breasted Merganser (ditto)

Ruffed Grouse

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Wild Turkey

Rock Pigeon

Herring Gull (Sunday-only)

Bald Eagle

Rough-legged Hawk

Barn Owl

Snowy Owl

Northern Hawk Owl

Great Gray Owl

Black-backed Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Northern Shrike

Canada Jay

Blue Jay

Black-billed Magpie

American Crow

Common Raven

Black-capped Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

European Starling

House Sparrow

Evening Grosbeak

Pine Siskin (Sunday-only; Lake CR 2)

American Goldfinch

White-throated Sparrow (Friday-only; Canal Park)



PHOTO GALLERY

(photo 1 by Rose Shea; photos 2-5 by Leslie Gillette)


Also see the 2020 and 2019 MBWs summaries

following the summary of the 2021 MBWeekend


______




WINTER DULUTH MBW SUMMARY

January 8 - 9 - 10, 2021



Bird List:


• FRI = January 8: Sax-Zim Bog (with Dave Benson and Frank Nicoletti)


• SAT = January 9: North Shore, mostly Grand Marais & Two Harbors (with Dave and Frank)


• SUN = January 10: Lake CR 2 / Hwy 1 / Tomahawk Tr, and Canal Park (with Frank); Homestead Rd / Barrs Lake area, and Sax-Zim (with KRE)  


Canada Goose     FRI, SAT (rare in winter in northern MN)

Mallard     SAT, SUN

Ring-necked Duck     SAT (Two Harbors stake-out)

Harlequin Duck     SAT (Two Harbors stake-out)

Long-tailed Duck     SAT (Grand Marais)

King Eider     SAT (Grand Marais stake-out)

Bufflehead     SAT

Common Goldeneye     SAT, SUN

Common Merganser     SAT

Red-breasted Merganser     SAT

Sharp-tailed Grouse     FRI, SUN (two in Sax-Zim at the “usual spot”)

Wild Turkey     FRI

Rock Pigeon     FRI, SAT, SUN

Herring Gull     SAT, SUN

Iceland Gull     SAT, SUN (Two Harbors and Canal Park)

Glaucous Gull     SUN (Canal Park)

Great Black-backed Gull     SUN (adult at Canal Park)

Bald Eagle     FRI, SAT, SUN

Northern Hawk Owl     FRI (on CR 7 in Sax-Zim)

Great Gray Owl     FRI, SUN (CR 7 on Fri; Homestead Rd on Sun; 4 in Lake Co on Sun)

Black-backed Woodpecker     FRI (Bob Russell bogwalk)

Downy Woodpecker     FRI, SAT, SUN

Hairy Woodpecker     FRI, SAT, SUN

Pileated Woodpecker     FRI, SAT

Northern Shrike     FRI

Canada Jay     FRI, SUN

Blue Jay     FRI, SAT, SUN

Black-billed Magpie     SUN (2 on CR 229 in Sax-Zim)

American Crow     FRI, SAT, SUN

Common Raven     FRI, SAT, SUN

Black-capped Chickadee     FRI, SAT, SUN

Boreal Chickadee     FRI (as close as 2-3 feet away at Warren Nelson Bog)

Red-breasted Nuthatch     FRI, SAT, SUN

White-breasted Nuthatch     FRI, SUN

Brown Creeper     FRI (seen by some)

Golden-crowned Kinglet     FRI (mostly heard-only)

European Starling     FRI, SAT, SUN

Bohemian Waxwing     SAT, SUN (distant fly-bys in Grand Marais; brief fly-bys near Homestead Rd)

House Sparrow     FRI, SUN

Evening Grosbeak     FRI

Pine Grosbeak     FRI, SUN

(Purple Finch - SUN in Lake Co?)

Common Redpoll     FRI, SUN

Hoary Redpoll     FRI (seen by some at Bob Russell bogwalk and at the S-t Grouse site)

White-winged Crossbill     SAT, SUN (seen by some in Grand Marais; 1 in Lake Co on Sun)

Pine Siskin     FRI (seen by some)


________



Comments from Dave Benson on Friday & Saturday...


A deer dinged Nancy’s car, and Frank went down hard on the ice in Grand Marais. So, in some respects, it was a typical 2020-2021 MBWeekend experience.


On the other hand, we had gorgeous weather all weekend, and on Friday in the Bog the hoarfrost was more extensive than I have ever seen. We worked hard for the species we saw, but we saw some good ones: a Boreal Chickadee at face level in the Warren Nelson Bog, a close look at a female Black-backed Woodpecker on the Bob Russell Bogwalk, spectacular looks at two Sharp-tailed Grouse at the feeders near their CR 29 lek, and at the end of the day, a Great Gray Owl in the waning sun, and a Northern Hawk Owl at dusk.


Saturday was just ducky—literally. It was very quiet overall, but we had nine species of duck! The highlights were the King Eider in Grand Marais, close looks at the Harlequin Duck in Two Harbors, Long-tailed Ducks off the rocks in Grand Marais, and, hey, seeing any duck in unfrozen water in January is good!


I haven’t even mentioned that we had Canada Goose both days. Or that it was a pleasure to guide again with my old friend Frank Nicoletti. In the late 1990s, Frank, Kim, and I were the entire overlook staff at Hawk Ridge (not like now, when it takes dozens to run the overlook). Kim, of course, had been running things there all by himself for two decades by then, and Frank is still holding down the fort at the banding station. You’d think with all that experience, we might have found a raptor besides Bald Eagle, but we didn’t.



Comments from Frank Nicoletti’s eBird report on Friday...


Nice day with temperatures starting at about 12 degrees getting up to about 20. Hoar frost was spectacular as it has been all week. Foggy in the early morning with sun late morning until end of day. Great views of GGOW, NHOW, BBWO, BOCH, winter finches including lots of male PIGR, plenty of EVGR, redpolls including one HORE. We missed BBMA and both crossbills. Overall nice day of birding with good birds, folks, and nice weather.


And from his eBird report on Sunday morning in Superior National Forest...


Checked Sand River multiple times, went up Tomahawk Trail. Very slow, tried stopping a dozen times and listening and using playback. 5-18 degrees with overcast skies, light winds and heavy hoar frost. Four Great Gray Owls – surprisingly 3 on the Tomahawk Trail, including a male and female calling to each other; plus one on CR 2.



Additional comments from KRE...


Sax-Zim was as productive as usual, ten species of waterfowl on Saturday was unprecedented (a Canadian Honker and 9 ducks, including the eider and a Harlequin; normally this MBW has only 2-3 ducks), and a flourish of gulls at Canal Park was a nice way to end the weekend. The weather was about as good as you can expect in January, and the hoar frost was amazing and almost everywhere we went (though it may be more accurate to call it rime icing).


Fortunately, Nancy was not hurt in that deer collision in Two Harbors, and she was accommodated by the Baumtrogs and the Polesaks so she could continue birding and get home on Sunday. And my thanks to all the participants for coming, for your patience during the less birdy parts of the days, and for making this final MBW of the season possible – our 35th year in 2020-21 has been a challenging one.



PHOTO GALLERY

(photos by Tom Burns)


Harlequin Duck  ~  Two Harbors

Sharp-tailed Grouse  ~  County Road 29, Sax-Zim Bog

Northern Hawk Owl  ~  County Road 7, Sax-Zim Bog

Great Gray Owl  ~  County Road 7, Sax-Zim Bog

Black-backed Woodpecker  ~  Bob Russell Bogwalk, Sax-Zim Bog