Date: 1/3/18 6:28 am
From: sparky stensaas <sparkystensaas...>
Subject: [mou-net] SAX-ZIM BOG Field trips/Events & Boreal Bird Update ...Gala, Big Half Year, BRRRRdathon, Clinton trips, etc
Hi All,
Sax-Zim Bog birding report and upcoming events/field trips below:


Set your own birding goals (for anywhere in the World!…not just Sax-Zim)
Details below or at

BRRRRdathon this Friday and/or Saturday
Not too late to join world’s coldest Birdathon!
Details below or at

BOREAL WINGS GALA Sunday January 21
At Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley
Details below or at

Free to members!
Details below or at

Great Gray Owls—They continue to be seen early and later in the afternoon along McDavitt and Admiral Roads, but others have been spotted along Owl Avenue south of the Welcome Center, Nichols Lake Road, and CR133 east of CR7. But REMEMBER, Great Grays are much more visible on calm, cloudy, snowy, warm days (temps in 20s) than on bitter cold, sunny, windy days. Set your expectations accordingly.

Northern Hawk Owls—At least two continue to be seen along McDavitt and Admiral Roads.

Black-backed Woodpeckers—They are here…but you have to find them! Best bets are to listen quietly for a bird flaking bark in a Black Spruce bog…and then go in and find it!

American Three-toed Woodpecker—Several sightings this late fall/winter. You probably have to bushwack to find one though. Try McDavitt Road bogs and Nichols Lake Road bogs (east of the lake about a mile from US53). Look for larger spruce and tamarack with flaked bark.

Common Redpolls—All over

Hoary Redpolls—Several females at Welcome Center feeders

Pine Grosbeaks—If you want to see males at eye-level, check Loretta’s feeders. Also regular at Blue Spruce feeders and Mary Lou’s feeders in small numbers.

Evening Grosbeaks—Mary Lou’s in the morning is the place to be. She even has a photo blind thanks to Friends of Sax-Zim Bog’s Hoeg Family Good Neighbor Fund. Remember, the grosbeaks depart by early afternoon.

Rough-legged Hawks, Snowy Owl, Snow Bunting—rare this winter in Sax-Zim

Sharp-tailed Grouse—Check the feeders along CR29/229 just a ways south of intersection with Correction Line Road. Up to 8 grouse at the feeders in early morning.

Boreal Chickadee—Not regular at Admiral Road feeders this year (or last year). But they are around. Pishhh and squeak loudly at any stretch of dense Black Spruce bog. They hang with Black-caps in winter.

Friday and/or Saturday, January 5-6
REMEMBER, “PLAYING FIELD” IS ALL of Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin

Link to Map of Area you are allowed to bird during the BRRRRdathon

A birdathon in northern Minnesota in January? You’ve got to be kidding! The BRRRRdathon may be the world’s coldest birdathon but it can also be the most exhilarating with the possibility of many boreal specialties in the North Woods. Imagine tallying the likes of Great Gray Owl, Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, Pine Grosbeak, Bohemian Waxwing, Hoary Redpoll, Gyrfalcon and Northern Hawk Owl in a two-day birding spree! And raising money for Friends of Sax-Zim Bog in the process. Win-win-win!

Beginning with the 2018 BRRRRdathon, we’ll have a points system in place. Basically, the rarer the species, or the harder the species is to find and see, the more points it will be worth. See the linked PDF for the points for each species.

Link to New Species Points System

But the two-day event requires some serious strategizing to maximize your species list. And the playing field is large…all of northeastern Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Most species tallied in the two-days wins.

We also have a One-day BRRRRdathon category, and for the hardy (or just plain foolhardy)[1-day participation can be either Friday or Saturday] a Wintergreen event where all birding must be done via non-motorized travel modes (dogsled? snowshoe? bicycle?).

All participants are invited to an awards and compilation dinner on Saturday evening where great food and surprising prizes are awarded. Winning teams get the honor of having their name memorialized on “Gary the Great Gray Owl,” a solid granite sculpture by Minnesota artist Keith Raivo.

**COMPILATION DINNER/POTLUCK WILL BE AT DULUTH FOLK SCHOOL IN 2018. 1917 West Superior Street, Duluth. Begins after dark…About 5pm.

$25 per person per event. This entry fee includes a one-year Friends of Sax-Zim Bog membership (including free field trips for one year!)

Snowshoe Hike
Sunday January 7
9:00- 12:00pm Meeting at the Welcome Center

Snowshoes are a great way to continue being active during the winter season and are a great way to explore hard to get to locations in the Bog. Join us for a leisurely hike through the woods to learn a little bit about boreal forests and animal sign you could find along the trail during the winter. Bring your own snowshoes, or borrow a pair from the Welcome Center (Limited availability)!

Please RSVP to Head Naturalist Clinton Nienhaus via email at <naturalist...>

Winter Tree ID
Sunday January 7
1:00- 3:00 pm Meeting at the Welcome Center

Tree Identification can be important in understanding forest type and age, but can all trees be identified in the winter without their leaves? You bet! Join us for a short hike through the trees, learning a little about forest ecology and winter tree identification.

Campfire Program
Friday, January 12
2:00- 4:00pm Meeting at the Welcome Center

People hold a special relationship to fire, whether it happens to be a reminder of a northern cabin or of Christmas time. Fire has been an important fixture to humanity… but why? Come investigate the reasons fire is important to people, both personally and ecologically. Come early to learn about a new method to build your own fire!

Winter Finches Field Trip
Saturday, January 13
9:00- 2:00 pm Meet at the Welcome Center

Many visitors to the Sax-Zim Bog in the winter season come to find the elusive Great Gray Owl. Others, come for the more readily seen, bright, and vocal finches. Join us on a this field trip looking for some of the bright winter visitors, such as Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, Common Redpoll, and Crossbills. We will also introduce the natural history of these boreal wanderers.

Please RSVP to Head Naturalist Clinton Nienhaus via email at <naturalist...>

Tracking and Animal Sign
Saturday, January 13
12:00- 3:00pm Meeting at the Welcome Center

Often, when traversing the Sax-Zim Bog, tracks are encountered. But how do you know if you are looking at dog vs wolf tracks? What is the difference between a hole made by a Downy Woodpecker and a Black-backed Woodpecker? We will investigate the activity by critters in the Sax-Zim Bog through an investigation of the area around the Welcome Center.

Northern Owls Evening Program
Saturday, January 13
4:00- 5:00pm Meeting at the Welcome Center with Owl trip following until 9:00 pm.

Most often, visitors to the Sax-Zim Bog are looking for owls, but do you really know “hoo” owls are? Come and learn a little about some of the owls that can sometimes be found in the Sax-Zim Bog and the surrounding area. Following a short talk, we will caravan looking for some owls at dusk! Please RSVP, as space at the program will be limited to 25! RSVP to <naturalist...>

Bog Ecology Snowshoe Hike
Sunday, January 14
10:00- 12:00 pm Meeting at the Welcome Center

A bog is very particular ecosystem, with water systems being important to many of the species that inhabit a bog. However, during the winter, much of that liquid water is locked up! Join us for a program investigating a bog through the seasons: determining summer characteristics and observing winter characteristics of a bog. Plan on a short snowshoe hike around the Welcome Center.

Animal Adaptations
Sunday, January 14
2:00-3:30 pm Meeting at the Welcome Center

Winter in northern Minnesota can be tough even for the most prepared outdoorsman. But how can critters survive with no coats, snow pants, or boots? Come find out how our winter resident birds and mammals and insects survive the frigid north!

Tracking and Animal Sign
Saturday, January 20
9:00- 12:00pm Meeting at the Welcome Center

Often, when traversing the Sax-Zim Bog, tracks are encountered. But how do you know if you are looking at dog vs wolf tracks? What is the difference between a hole made by a Downy Woodpecker and a Black-backed Woodpecker? We will investigate the activity by critters in the Sax-Zim Bog through an investigation of the area around the Welcome Center.

Sunday, January 21
2:00-4:30pm Springbrook Nature Center, Fridley, MN

All bog buddies, please put Sunday January 21 on your calendar. That is the date of our 2018 Boreal Wings Gala at Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley, Minnesota.

Once again, we’ll have a silent auction with tons of fun bird-related items, bird-themed appetizers, Sax-Zim Bog merchandise, great conversation, an update from Executive Director Sparky, and even a World Premiere of another “Clinton’s Critters” video.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Al Batt of Hartland, Minnesota is a writer, speaker, storyteller and humorist. Al writes humor and nature columns for many newspapers and does regular radio shows about nature. He writes a number of popular cartoon strips that are syndicated nationally and is author of the book, “A Life Gone to the Birds.” He is a columnist for “Bird Watcher’s Digest” and writes for a number of magazines and books. He is a trustee of the American Bald Eagle Foundation in Haines, Alaska. Al hosted TV shows for many years and speaks at various festivals, conferences and conventions all over the world. He has received the Ed Franey Conservation Media Award from the Izaak Walton League, the Thomas Sadler Roberts Award from the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union for lifetime contributions to birding and was recognized by Bluebirds Across Nebraska for outstanding contributions to wildlife conservation. Al speaks to anyone who will listen. His mother thinks he is special.

TICKETS ON SALE on our website. ADVANCE REGISTRATION IS $35 per person (Kids 17 $ under FREE)

(May also pay $40 at the door as well)


Come early to hike/snowshoe/ski the nature center’s many trails!

Also check out the new building and interactive exhibits.

2pm—Appetizers, mingle, silent auction

2:30pm—Sparky updates everyone on Friends of Sax-Zim Bog projects & enjoy a World Premiere of a new Clinton’s Critters video

3:00-3:45 pm—Humorist and Birder Al Batt takes the stage. His stories will have you rolling in the aisles (if we have aisles).

3:45-4:00 pm—Silent Auction wraps up

4-4:30 pm—Mingling, AppetizersIncludes soup/bread dinner, silent auction, and a 1-year membership including free programs.

Email <info...> for more info…or Call Sparky at 218.341.3350 with questions.

DO YOU HAVE BIRD OR NATURE RELATED ITEMS TO DONATE FOR THE SILENT AUCTION? Email <info...> for more info…or Call Sparky at 218.341.3350

Many nature-related items to be included in the Silent Auction

This is a Fundraiser for 501c3 non-profit Friends of Sax-Zim Bog to continue to purchase land in the Sax-Zim Bog and preserve it for future generations of birds and birders


YOU CAN DESIGN YOUR OWN BIG HALF YEAR! Pick a birding goal...any goal! It can be species you see just in your backyard…or in a local park…or in your county…or entire state (ANY STATE! Not just Minnesota). Be creative! Because it is not the birder with the biggest number that wins…All prizes will be given away as a drawing in early July 2018

WHEN: The birding period will be from January 1, 2018 through June 30, 2018.

HOW: Just email Sparky with your birding goal. He will create a web page and link for you to share with your friends, family and donors.

COST: Free to Enter...But this is a fundraiser, so we ask each participant to raise at least $50 (collected after the June 30, 2018). You can get friends and family to sponsor you on a per-species basis, or lump sum. Or you can just donate $50 or more yourself.

RULES: No rules! You can do your birding ANYWHERE in the World! But it must be related to BIRDS in some way.

COMPILATION: We will have a picnic in the Duluth or Sax-Zim area in July where we will share stories and award prizes. Date TBD.

Q: Do I have to do my Big Half Year in Sax-Zim Bog?
A: NO! You can do your bird-related Big Half Year anywhere in the world!

Q: I don't like asking folks for pledges...Can I just donate $50 or more to participate?
A: Yes! Absolutely. This is a fundraiser for the Mission of Friends of Sax-Zim Bog to Support, Promote and Protect the Bog.

Q: How do I update folks on my progress?
A: Just email Sparky a paragraph or two on 1) The goal of your Big Half Year and 2) Your history with Sax-Zim Bog and why you think it is worth supporting FOSZB, and Sparky will create a web page for you on the site. He will then email you a link to share with your friends and family.

Q: Prizes? Is this a contest?
A: No, this is not a contest since nobody will likely have the same Big Half Year goal. But we will give out fun prizes at the compilation picnic in July. Last Big Half Year we gave away a nice pair of binoculars! (Drawing of the top ten fundraisers)

How about...

birds seen in your backyard?
birds seen in Minnesota?
birds photographed in Sax-Zim?
birds photographed in North America, Columbia, Brazil, Paraguay or Zimbabwe?
birds seen only at sewage ponds?
birds seen on Tuesdays?
birds seen in the Boreal Forest?
birds seen in the city limits of Minneapolis?
birds seen while driving?
birds seen out your window?
birds species heard singing?

We will have a compilation picnic in July to share stories, eat good food and give away prizes.
How do we turn this into a fundraiser? You can solicit pledges per species, or lump sums, or just make a donation yourself! The more you raise, the more chances you'll have to win our fabulous prizes (TBD). All participants must pledge or raise over $50.
Each participant will be given a page on our website to update folks on their progress in their personal Big Half Year for the Bog. Share stories, photos, videos!...and garner pledges.


Email Sparky a paragraph or two on 1) The goal of your Big Half Year and 2) Your history with Sax-Zim Bog and why you think it is worth supporting FOSZB, and Sparky will create a web page for you on the site. He will then email you a link to share with your friends and family. <sparky...>

Sparky Stensaas
2515 Garthus Road
Wrenshall MN 55797

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