A Bog in the Northwoods (Part 1)

People shake their heads and question my sanity when I tell them I am headed to the Northwoods of upper Minnesota in the middle of winter. But that is exactly what I did. More specifically, I headed to the Sax-Zim Bog, northwest of Duluth.

I was not alone. Last winter, people from at least 45 states and 5 foreign counties visited the bog. Why? They can see a variety of birds that overwinter in the northern Boreal Forests. Some of the species will occasionally make a brief winter appearance in Iowa. But in order to see a multitude of species and numbers, the bog is the place to go.

There are multiple bird feeding stations set up throughout the bog. Finding various species is not very challenging if you know which feeding stations they prefer to use. Here are some of the more unique species I encountered in and around the bog.

The Pine Grosbeak over-winters in the Northwoods and frequents several bird feeding stations. The chances of seeing one in West Central Iowa is really close to zero. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560 mm, ISO 2500, f/8, 1/2000. ©Stanley Buman. Arkola Road in Sax-Zim Bog.
Evening Grosbeaks have large conical bills that are used to open tough seeds. The male is in flight and the female is perched on the feeder. There have only been a few scattered reports of this species migrating down to Iowa this winter. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560 mm, ISO 1250, f/8, 1/2000. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved, Sax-Zim Bog Visitor’s Center.
About half a dozen Ruffed Grouse were foraging on buds on this brush at sunset. These birds inhabit deciduous and coniferous forests; neither of which are found in West-central Iowa. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 560 mm, ISO 3200, f/8, 1/160. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved, Stone Lake Road by Sax-Zim Bog.

These are just a few of the species I saw and photographed during my short stay in the Northwoods. And the best part was that there were no mosquitos or ticks.

8 thoughts on “A Bog in the Northwoods (Part 1)”

    1. Thank you Don. I did see a Pine Marten but it stayed back in the forest. I also saw 2 Great Gray Owls but they also were back in the forest a ways. I did not see a Boreal Owl, Bohemian Waxwing, or Snowy Owl. These alone are a good reason to return to the Bog some day.

  1. Enjoy your posts. We have feeders out and with all the snow we have lots of birds, but most are blue jays, cardinals, and sparrows. We have a couple red bellied woodpeckers. One black bird and one turtledove that somehow missed migration? Marlyn

    1. Thank you. Cardinals and Blue Jays add a lot of color to the winter scene. No doubt these birds are frequent visitors given the location of your house. I am guessing you got a lot of snow from this storm.

    1. Thanks Sue. It felt good to get out again and use my camera. I did find my skills were a little rusty. I hope you didn’t get buried in too much snow yesterday.

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