Our birding caravan was headed deep into the interior of the Sax-Zim Bog where we were hoping to see a Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Evening Grosbeak and if we were really lucky maybe a wolf or a moose!
All during the winter, there were a couple locations in the Bog where feeding stations had been set up with birdseed and a deer ribcage attached to a tree in order to attract birds for viewing and photographs. We found out early on Saturday morning that some of the local residents had complained about this and the DNR felt compelled to come and remove the deer rib cages. I'm not sure why they couldn't have waited just a couple more days until the festival was over, but then again, this isn't the first DNR decision that's left me scratching my head in disbelief. Anyhoo, when we got to that first feeding station we found that one of the local nature photographers had taken it upon himself to put out some birdseed and dogfood and also attach another ribcage to the tree, so festival participants who wanted to take pictures could do so. (He also told us that when he left that day, he would be removing the rib cage and taking it with him.)
There were several Gray Jays visiting the dogfood that had been sprinkled on the ground. Unfortunately, this was the best photo of a Gray Jay I managed to get. They're really pretty birds, so you might want to look in your field guide to get an idea of what they really look like!
Lots of different birds were enjoying the deer rib cage, but the clinging birds (like this Downy Woodpecker and Red-Breasted Nuthatch) seem to have a definite advantage when it comes to enjoying this feast!
The seeds on the ground were being gobbled up by Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, and Chickadees. Here are a couple of Pine Siskins enjoying sunflower seeds.
During our tour of the bog, we also visited a couple of residences where the home owners had set up their bird feeding stations so people could stop by and watch the birds. Since I never see many Purple Finches at my feeders here in southern Minnesota, I was more than happy to take pictures of the Purple Finches I saw at these feeders. There seemed to be many more female finches than males, so I was particularly happy to get this photo of a handsome male.
A couple of female purple finches enjoying sunflower seeds.
Shortly after our lunch break, the snow flurries started and our bird sightings and visibility decreased with the increase of snow flakes.
We took advantage of a short break in the weather and had one of our trip leaders take a picture of Lynne and I with WildBird magazine so Lynne could submit it to Amy Hooper for the next issue.
Finally it was time for us to think about turning the car south and heading for home. We said good-bye and thanks to our trip leaders and all of the good people who worked so hard at making the Sax-Zim Bog Winter Birding Festival another rousing success. I would strongly encourage anyone who's interested to plan on attending this festival someday (always the second weekend in February). We had a great time and I know you would too!
Here's the list of birds we saw during this festival.
For more stories and much bettter photos, please check out Lynne's blog also (just click on this link).