My Journey To Sax Zim Bog

A Great Gray Owl comes in for a landing!

Great Gray Owl

 

Minnesota is much more than the 10,000 lakes that make up its state nickname. It boasts a multitude of habitats — vast spans of hardwood lots, open prairie and bogs. In the winter months, Minnesota’s northern reaches turn into a boreal paradise, playing host to a wonderful array of wildlife!

 

A Red Squirrel trying to avoid the wind on a cold day in the bog.

Red Squirrel

 

This past December, I ventured up to Northern Minnesota’s Sax Zim Bog, in search of one of America’s most amazing birds. The Great Gray Owl!

 

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl

 

My adventure was inspired by “The Big Year”, a movie based upon the novel of the same title, by journalist, Mark Obmascik, in which three men embark on a quest to see the most bird species possible throughout north America in one year. Like Jack Black’s character, I wanted to see the Great Gray Owl with my Father. So along with our friend Scott, we drove over 16 hours to Eveleth Minnesota.

 

A Great Gray Owl unfurls it's wings for a nice stretch.

Great Gray Owl

This Great Gray was keeping his eye on a group of photographers in the distance.

Great Gray Owl

 

The next day, we got to spend over four hours with a Great Gray Owl on Admiral Road, one of the main thoroughfares at Sax Zim. It was an amazing experience that I got to share with my Father and friend. This bird is truly majestic and inspiring!

 

Taking flight!

Great Gray Owl

 

Other big draws for the Sax Zim Bog area include birds like this male Pine Grosbeak. A beautiful ball of gray and bright red feathers with a lot of character and personality.

 

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

 

Also present in good numbers is the ever curious Gray Jay. It was truly delightful to watch these birds feed and bounce around the dense spruce and tamarack trees that lined the roads.

 

Gray Jay

Gray Jay

 

And one of my absolute favorites, the Evening Grosbeak. It’s hard to miss this gorgeous bird in the dead of winter, sporting hues of bright yellow and dark brown, it’s sure to impress!

 

Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak

Winter is fast approaching, and as you’re all getting your plans set, I’d like to say that I can’t speak highly enough about Northern Minnesota. It is a must stop birding destination that any birder could easily fall in love with. Wildside will be making a trip to the area in February of 2017, spending our time searching the bogs, forests, and prairies for up to seven species of Owl, including the Great Gray!
Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl

 

When you include the amazing winter landscapes, and the other birds that you’ll likely see, Sax Zim Bog and Northern Minnesota is a prime destination with amazing opportunities. So come join us in February on what promises to be a wonderful time in the land of 10,000 lakes, and lots of birds!

-Justin

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