It's been fun following the recent reports of Boreal Owls in Northeastern Minnesota. We want to include Aitkin County in the roster of locations where Boreal Owls are appearing. It's always a bit frustrating to find out about a bird well after it is gone...but it's just as interesting to note its appearance. Sometime weekend before last there was a Boreal Owl in a yard south of McGregor. The homeowners found the bird perching on the head of a bear carving on their front deck! Unfortunately, we did not hear about the sighting until a photo was published in the local newspaper. The homeowners have not seen the bird again, but we have asked them to give us a call if it shows up again. We'll keep you posted. (A photo has been added to the MOU Recently Seen.)
Aitkin County has had other great birds in our new year.
Sharp-tailed Grouse are already dancing periodically on their traditional leks near Tamarack, with numbers as high as the mid-30s. While they can be found near the leks on many mornings, sunny days seem to be best for finding them dancing.
Woodpeckers have been widespread...anywhere there are mature Tamarack trees, your chances of finding a Black-backed or American Three-toed Woodpecker is good, just look for freshly worked trees. We've found Black-backed Woodpeckers in four or five locations. The best area has been near the town of Lawler where we've found as many as FIVE Black-backed Woodpeckers and as many as THREE American Three-toed Woodpeckers at one time.
Winter finches are very well represented. The flock of Evening Grosbeaks at our feeders numbers 30-40 most days. For the last week or so, they've been joined by smaller numbers of Pine Grosbeaks. The most numerous finches, for us, have been the redpolls. Common Redpolls are present each day in large numbers. We know the flock keeps changing because we've had two Hoary Redpolls, one male & one female, at different times. We've found White-winged Crossbills in the yard, but they're easily found in Black Spruce and Tamarack areas with cones...just look for cones, stop and 'pish' then enjoy the White-winged Crossbills as they come pouring out of the woods to perch on the spruce tops. Red Crossbills have been more intermittent. We've found them in scattered locations across the county, none since the CBC a couple weeks ago.
Kim & Cindy Risen
Tamarack, Aitkin County
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