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MINNESOTA February 2013

Sheridan Coffey and I made a last-minute decision to try to cash in on the "northern owl" invasion in the area around Duluth, Minnesota in the winter of 2012/2013. We chose to rent a 4WD in San Antonio and drive up! it was much cheaper than flying, but took two days in each direction to do the drive. We drove north on February 23, arriving in the Duluth area on February 24, and departed February 28, arriving home on March 01. We were very lucky with the weather, dodging storms in Kansas and Iowa just before our northbound trip, during our time in the Duluth area, and soon after our return drive! The weather in the Duluth area for our three-plus-a-bit days of birding was also excellent, being mostly calm, sunny and "warm" (mostly 19 - 37 degrees F; one early morning near Ely got down to -3). I must mention the local birders, who to a man/woman were friendly and very helpful with information - thanks guys! Here are photos of some of the birds we enjoyed:

Great Gray Owl Strix nebulosa: After soaking in the Boreal Owl in Two Harbors on the first late afternoon, we were tipped-off about a Great Gray not far away on the road back to Duluth. "Strike while the Iron is Hot" being one of our mottos, we drove down to the northwest end of Superior Street/Old North Shore Road and started a slow cruise towards Duluth. No more than 150 yards into this exercise Sheridan blurted out "there it is!" - and thus started a memorable 20+ minutes with this spectacular beast (note that we only saw one other - early the next morning at Sax Zim Bog):