Hawk Ridge Winter Bird Tour Feb 2-7

February 2, 2024 – February 7, 2024 all-day

“Winter Bird Tour is CLOSED – please contact jlong@hawkridge.org with questions.

Boreal Birding Adventures in NE Minnesota
Guided by Frank Nicoletti & Margie Menzies

Northeastern MN is well known for the great diversity of winter birds. Birders flock from throughout the world to be able see species, such as Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing, Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, White-winged and Red Crossbills, and more! An average winter trip list may include only 50 species or so, but it’s not unusual for around half of these boreal species to be life birds for someone in the group.

This tour led by expert Hawk Ridge guides, Frank Nicoletti & Margie Menzies, includes four full birding days and potentially 2 partial days depending on your arrival/departure times. We will travel as a group in van(s) to visit places like the famed Sax-Zim Bog area, Lake County and Cook County in the Arrowhead Region of NE Minnesota, and potential hotspots for birds in Duluth/along Lake Superior. Ruffed Grouse, Snowy Owl, Northern Shrike, Boreal Chickadee, Bohemian Waxwing, Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, and Common Redpoll can be expected. Typically, there is also a good chance to see Spruce and Sharp-tailed Grouse, Great Gray and Northern Hawk Owls, Black-backed Woodpecker, both crossbills, and Hoary Redpoll. Though not to be expected most years, such rarities as Gyrfalcon, Boreal Owl, and American Three-toed Woodpecker are other hoped-for possibilities.

COST: $1200/person or discounted member rate of $1000/person with Hawk Ridge Membership. The trip will run with a minimum of 5 participants and no more than 10. The tour includes group transportation for tour (including pick up/drop off from Duluth locations for shuttle/rental car or Duluth airport on arrival/departure days) and guide services. It does NOT include shuttle/transportation to/from Minneapolis airport, airfare, lodging, meals, and other personal expense.



The Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Duluth by The Mall (across from Miller Hill Mall) will be the home base. A discounted rate of approx. $93/night (incl. taxes) is available until filled. Please reserve by calling 218-727-3110 and asking for the “Hawk Ridge Birder’s Rate”. Amenities include free breakfast, free parking, indoor pool, etc. 2 other nearby lodging options are The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriot Duluth (1510 Maple Grove Rd) within walking/pickup distance (adjacent to Days Inn) or the AmericInn Lodge & Suites (901 Joshua Ave) within pickup distance. If you choose to stay elsewhere, you may need to arrange travel to/from home base hotel.


While it would not be unusual for a mid-winter day’s “high” temperature to remain below zero and for the low to be minus 20 or even lower, an average day’s temperatures reach the upper teens. With sunshine and minimal winds, such conditions are actually reasonably pleasant. Note that even the coldest days are tolerable, since virtually all of our birding is along roadsides, either within or near the warmth of our vehicles.

However, cold fronts with brisk winds are also possible, and days with lows in the minus 20s or even lower and “highs” remaining below zero do occur. Wind chills in the minus 30s and minus 40s are similarly not unusual. While Northern Minnesota does get its share of snow, storms serious enough to preclude birding activity are infrequent, with even the back roads promptly and efficiently plowed.


Although almost all our birding will be from the warmth of the van, be sure to pack/dress in warm layers (ex. thermal underwear, heavy sweaters, winter coat, hat, scarf/neck gaiter to cover the ears and neck, mittens generally work better than gloves, insulated boots, warm socks, hand/toe warmers). Bring any birding gear you’d like (binoculars, scope, field guide, camera). We do have binoculars for use and will have a few scopes along as well. Bring any water/snacks you’d like during travel. We will stop for meals and restroom breaks. If you have any dietary restrictions, please let us know, so we can check for restaurant accommodations ahead of time.


Most of the tour will be birding from the roadside with stops along roadside. There may be portions of the tour that include some short distances on trail that are optional. If you have accessibility needs, please let us know ahead of time.


• If the participant cancels more than 2 weeks prior, full refund of the Hawk Ridge participant fee is available (less $100 processing fee, unless we are able to fill slot from waitlist)

• In the event of cancellation due to weather/travel issues or illness or injury or family emergency with prior notification, full refund of the Hawk Ridge participant fee is available (less $100 processing fee, unless we are able to fill slot from waitlist). If you need to cancel, travel insurance is something to consider to help cover personal travel expenses for unexpected cancellations

• If the participant cancels part of the trip due to weather/travel issues or illness or injury or family emergency, partial, pro-rated refunds or transferrable fees will also be considered on a case by case basis

• If Hawk Ridge needs to cancel the program, you will receive 100% full refund of the Hawk Ridge participant fee

• If notice of cancellation is not received or received after the start of the program/tour, all Hawk Ridge participant fees are non-refundable · If you need to cancel, you must contact us ASAP


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. Frank has decades of involvement with Hawk Ridge, including leading both the fall raptor count and banding, and is currently the Senior Research Associate continuing 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. fnicoletti@hawkridge.org

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 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 full-time year-round Education Director at Hawk Ridge. She has a passion for birds and helps lead the songbird banding at Hawk Ridge during fall migration as well as two MAPS stations studying summer breeding birds at Hawk Ridge, Sugarloaf Cove, and assists at the Wolf Ridge station when she can. She recently added coordinating birding tours for Hawk Ridge to her job, exploring the diverse world of birds with fellow travelers in incredible international locations. 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, and has long been an instructor in the UMN Extension Minnesota Master Naturalist certification program. She has a BA in Biology from Bethel University and a MA in Education from University of St. Thomas and was recently awarded the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education 2023 Non-formal Educator of the Year Award. Learning is a lifelong pursuit and sharing the wonders of the natural world with people of all ages is Margie’s happy place. mmenzies@hawkridge.org or 218-428-8722.