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I birded Alder Road and the Marcell/Bigfork/Effie corridor today including a few snowshoe treks in various spruce bogs.  Birding was slow except for finches along Alder Road and at the Effie Cafe.  
 
A Hoary Redpoll was visiting the feeders at the Effie Cafe along with Common Redpoll, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Pine Grosbeak, and a few Evening Grosbeaks.  I pasted documentation of the Hoary below.  
 
Pine Grosbeaks were abundant on Alder Road and other locations.  White-winged Crossbills were numerous at Middle Creek on Alder Road, but this regular Boreal Chickadee spot did not produce today.  I also saw several Gray Jays on Alder.   
 
Finally, I birded the entire stretch of open water on the Mississippi River in Cohasset, including walking both directions from the MP&L landing, and found the following: 
 
- 2 adult, 6 immature Trumpeter Swans
- numerous Mallards
- 4 Canada Geese
- maybe a dozen Common Goldeneyes
 
I haven't seen any waterfowl on the Mississippi downstream of Cohasset.  (There is open water below the dam in Grand Rapids.)  I have a second-hand report of a Black-backed Woodpecker yesterday at the Deer River DNR station on Hwy 6 but it was not seen today.
 
There is an Itasca Birding Club field trip on February 28th that ends at the Effie Cafe feeders.  Details are on the calendar on my website.  If you are from outside of Itasca County and considering attending, please contact me in advance so we know if we need to plan for a larger group.  Shawn Conrad 
http://users.2z.net/itasca_chippewa_birding/  
 
 
 

After some sorting, I noticed an apparent male Hoary Redpoll foraging on the ground beneath the Effie Cafe feeders with several other finch species (Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Pine Grosbeak). The bird was light gray on the scapulars rather than the more tan color of the adjacent Commons. The streaking on the flanks was very faint. It's wing bars were clearly wider than on the adjacent Commons. Additionally, compared to the Commons, the pink of the breast was lighter and less extensive. The bill appeared smaller and the undertail coverts were not streaked. Despite careful study, I was never able to note the plumage of the rump. Upon realizing that the bird was a Hoary, I took field notes during the observation and told the Effie Cafe staff about the bird. Despite not being avid birders, 2 of these additional observers were able to repeatedly pick out the Hoary from the Commons (~15 Commons present) when the flock flushed twice and returned. Both noted the lighter gray color of the bird, less extensive pink, and less streaking on the flanks. I am not a photographer, so I was unable to get a photo, but one of the cafe staff took 2 photos of the bird with a camera phone and said she would email it to me. If I receive the photo and it is adequate for identification, I will attach it to this documentation later. On a behavior note, even though the other redpolls and finches were foraging over a fairly wide area, this bird consistantly stayed within about 2' of the bird feeder post. 
II. Species similar to this bird and how eliminated from consideration. 

See above
III. Your experience with this and similar species. 

I have documented Hoary Redpoll multiple times and observed it in 5 counties. I observe Common Redpoll on most days of most winters at my feeder and while birding. 
Other Observers - if they have additional information regarding this record, please include with this report, or list their addresses so they can be contacted.

2 nonbirders who noted some field marks - no contact information given
IV. Check applicable statements:



 x 
You were aware at the time of the observation that this record was unusual

 x 
Photos or tape recordings were taken of bird (Please attach to this report.)

 x 
Field guides were not used nor needed to make identification

 x 
Field notes or sketch made during observation, field guide was consulted (Please attach to this report.)

  
Field notes or sketch made after observation,

  
Identification made by consulting field guides while bird was in view

  
Identification made from memory after consulting field guides later
Field guides and other references consulted: 


V. Light conditions; bird-observer-sun orientation; time of day 

~1100, sun bright, directly south with observer indoors facing east, no backlight issues
Length of observation: several minutes over multiple observations Distance from bird: feeder is 10-15' from windowOptics used: not needed but viewed through 10x50 NikonHabitat: feeder 
 
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