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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:

Northern Hawk Owl Surnia ulula: Our first full day was spent at Sax-Zim Bog, some 40 minutes northwest of Duluth. We started at a couple of sites where 2 different Hawk Owls had been seen the day before, but after much searching we came up blank. We then spent some time at various bird feeders and went back to Duluth for lunch, before returning to the Bog and restarting our OwlQuest. No luck at the first Hawk Owl spot, but as we approached the main site I could see our quarry waiting to greet us! Later that afternoon we relocated a Hawk Owl at the first spot (but it was rather distant), and on our last morning - back at Sax-Zim Bog - we found (or relocated) another distant Hawk Owl at new location. These images are all from our first, close encounter: