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Subject:New arrivals in the Northwoods, raptor migration, plus photos/videos of bog birds!
From:Erik Bruhnke <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Erik Bruhnke <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 21 Mar 2011 12:33:22 -0500

This past week has been simply wonderful, with so many bird experiences up
here in Duluth. I’m finally getting around to catching up, by posting a few
fun happenings over the past week… While showing people around the bog this
past Saturday and Sunday, we observed several new migrants up here in the
Northwoods, as well as a large variety of the beautiful birds occurring up

Before going over the sightings from this past weekend, I am really excited
to share with you the fun flights of birds that have been moving through the
Duluth area over the past week. This upcoming spring is my first spring as a
hawk counter, and it is such a fun time being in non-stop suspense, waiting
to see whatever beautiful raptor will slowly linger off in the far horizon,
just waiting to be found... or possibly witnessing a bird (catching you by
surprise) and flying low overhead. My friends Laura Erickson, Frank
Nicoletti, and Dave Carman are also counting raptors this spring! Several
raptors have flown by at eye-level, literally no more than 50 feet away from
the road (straight out above the drop off). I’m really looking forward to
sharing the excitement of raptor migration with all of you, as well as
sharing a few pictures to show you what the spring migration is like. What
you witness during spring raptor migration is much different than the fall
migration. In the spring time, not only do raptors take different migration
routes as they meander over and around different land formations, but the
raptors themselves look different this time of year. They are experiencing
different molt cycles, and their colors throughout their feathers literally
GLOW, especially on sunny days… The ice and snow reflect light upwards,
which illuminates these gorgeous birds flying by. The most common raptors
that have been observed this spring have been the beautiful Bald Eagles! The
gorgeous, deeper-flapping Golden Eagles have been making regular but
smaller-scale appearances, in addition to a few Red-tailed Hawks,
Rough-legged Hawks (I like to call them arctic fluffballs), and Red-tailed
Hawks. A Sharp-shinned Hawk and several Cooper’s Hawks have been observed as
well! Feel free to stop on by, we'd love to see you up here, and share the
stunning views of raptor migration with you.

Below are some of my photos from counting raptors this past week. This first
link will has more information regarding the Duluth spring hawkwatching

Peregrine Falcon:

Golden Eagle:

Rough-legged Hawk:

Bald Eagle (adult, then immature):

Saturday’s all-day birdwatching/photography excursion at the bog provided us
with great looks at some of the classic bog-birds, plus several new arrivals
in the area for the new year. After witnessing a fun and bird-filled day on
Saturday, we ended the trip at nightfall, where we listened for owls. In one
location in the bog, we heard the intermittent and soft-toned call of the
NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, the faster and bubblier trill of the NORTHERN
HAWKOWL, and a distant GREAT GRAY OWL calling with the brief booming
notes in
the call. Here is the list from Saturday…

NORTHERN HARRIER (female) – first one I’ve seen this spring

Rough-legged Hawk – 6 light morphs and one dark morph

Bald Eagle

AMERICAN KESTREL (female)– first one I’ve seen this spring

Great Horned Owl

Great Gray Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Northern Hawk Owl

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Black-backed Woodpecker

Northern Shrike

Blue Jay

Gray Jay

Black-capped Chickadee

Boreal Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (male) – First one I’ve seen this spring

Common Redpoll

Yesterday’s visit to the bog was a little on the drizzly-side, however we
still had some great views of the beautiful birds in the bog. In addition to
the birds seen from Saturday, we also had a pair of Ruffed Grouse and 6
Sharp-tailed Grouse on Sunday. We stayed until about 3pm, and did not stay
long enough to await the vocalizations of the owls at night.

Here is a video I digiscoped of a female Northern Hawk Owl doing the
“begging call.”

Here are some of my favorite photos from this past weekend.

Northern Hawk Owl with a wild rodent in the bill. We saw this gorgeous
female hawk owl dive down and catch the little rodent, then fly to a nearby
perch and swallow it whole!

Northern Hawk Owl, with another wild rodent – at nightfall:

Northern Harrier (female) patrolling the fields:

Black-backed Woodpecker flying behind a Northern Hawk Owl:

Northern Hawk Owl in flight, then perched on a branch:

Northern Hawk Owl (female) digiscoped:

There will be a free MOU trip to the Sax-Zim Bog this upcoming Saturday,
March 26th, from 11:00am until dark. We will meet at Canal Park, and carpool
to the bog. Please let me know if you are interested in attending this free
trip, as there are a few more openings still available! Thanks :-)

Good birdwatching,

Erik Bruhnke

Duluth, MN


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