Boreal Birds in Spring – Exploration Weekend

April 29, 2023 – April 30, 2023 all-day

Rescheduled Boreal Birds Exploration Weekend

Mother Nature gave us too much wind and snow for the originally scheduled March 10-12th weekend. So we are rescheduling a slightly revamped Boreal Birds Weekend, which we are now calling Boreal Birds in Spring!  Many of the original birds that we planned to see will still very much be around all in late April- so have no fear, there will be fun birds to see and quite a few more northern migrants heading for the Boreal Forest as well- so even more Boreal Birds! We will stick to roughly the same general destinations as the first trip described below, and will decide where to go which day depending on what is being seen in the area.

Northern Minnesota is well known for long winters and cold ones at that. But it is also one of the best places in the US to see some amazing northern resident birds and fascinating over-wintering birds from points even further north! Even late in April it is possible to get out and look for all of these amazing birds. It will be warmer and also has the advantage of spring migration being well underway already for a number of species. We will explore the ecology of the northern landscape which is the backbone for who can be found where- each of these birds has a story! Join leaders Frank Nicoletti and Margie Menzies for a fascinating 2 day weekend exploration of this area (with an optional early bird Friday afternoon in the Duluth/Superior Area).  

Depending on conditions and where the birds are, we will spread our two day adventures over two distinct locations, the Sax-Zim Bog area to the northwest of Duluth and the Superior National Forest and North Shore of Lake Superior to the northeast. We will see what skill and luck can find us and take a closer look at patterns and conditions that contribute to the story of each of these species of birds. Possible species include Great Gray Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Northern Hawk-Owl, Ruffed Grouse, Spruce Grouse, Evening Grosbeak, Northern Shrike, Black-billed Magpie, White-winged Crossbill, Canada Jay, Common Redpoll, Bohemian Waxwings, and many more!

Optional Friday 4/28 afternoon trip:  If you are able to come in earlier on Friday, we will offer an afternoon exploration in the Duluth/Superior area, we will definitely have birds in the harbor including gulls and ducks, a visit to the spring raptor count site, or other highlights that might be happening in the local area. This would run from roughly 1 pm til dusk. COST: Additional $50 Members/ Master Naturalists, $75 Non-members.

Participants: Limited to 12 participants (minimum of 8)

Logistics: We will plan to carpool as much as possible to limit the number of vehicles in the field. We will also be able to communicate via radio between vehicles. Creature comfort stops will also be provided during the expedition days. Accommodations are on your own. A variety of hotels in the Duluth vicinity will offer discounted rates for Hawk Ridge Birders. Here is a link to our website and the area hotels that we know will offer discounts. Lodging Discounts for Birders. Further information (ex. Meeting locations and times) will be provided to participants prior to trip. 

What to Bring: Plan on bringing a bag breakfast, lunch, and whatever snacks and beverages you will need each day. Clothes essentials for this trip include waterproof boots, layers of warm clothing, hats and mittens, and a windproof/waterproof outer layer.  Average high temperature for this time of year 45-50 F, but there are always possibilities of significantly warmer or cooler temperatures as well, so plan wisely and be prepared for a variety of conditions. We will plan to work around whatever weather conditions occur.

What to Bring: Binoculars are essential. We will have binoculars and several scopes for use available. Feel free to bring whatever birding gear you prefer (optics, camera, field guides). We will provide a potential list of species checklist, so you may want to bring a notebook and writing utensils if you are a lister. 

Cost: $200 Members/ Master Naturalists ($50 add-on for Friday), $250 Non-members ($75 add-on for Friday)


Trip options

Field Trip Leader Bios:

Margie Menzies is a lifelong naturalist, educator, and lover of birds, rocks and all things of the natural world. She spent years in the formal classroom as a science teacher but has abandoned the indoors for the great outdoor classroom. Margie Menzies joined Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in 2011 as a fall naturalist and is currently the Education Director at Hawk Ridge. She has a passion for birds and has been involved in songbird banding for more than 25 years. She has served as the naturalist at Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center up the North Shore in Schroeder, MN and served as an adjunct member of the University of Minnesota Duluth, Education Department. She has a BA from Bethel University and a MA from University of St. Thomas. She loves birds, loves learning, and loves sharing the natural world with people of all ages. 218-428-8722.

Frank Nicoletti grew up in New York State along the Hudson River where he started watching raptors at the age of 11. His passion for raptors and other birds fueled him to work at various locations including Cape May and Sandy Hook NJ, Braddock Bay NY and in Israel. From 1984 until 1996 he traveled throughout the country and conducted various raptor related projects which included nesting surveys, tracking winter raptors and migration work. He arrived in Duluth in 1991 to count raptors and to witness the invasion of the Northern Goshawk and he conducted the count at Hawk Ridge until 2005. After moving to Duluth permanently in the fall of 1996, he conducted the first spring count of raptors migrating north in Minnesota along the West Skyline Parkway of Duluth. Frank joined the Hawk Ridge staff in 2011 as the Banding Director and as of has also been directing the Hawk Ridge Spring Count (West Skyline Hawk Count) since 2018. Frank continues to study raptors with a variety of projects. He has published a number of papers on birds and has helped with many authors working on books and articles. He lives just north of Duluth with his wife, Kate.