Our trip wasn't disappointing because we did manage to see quite a few Bald Eagles and Red-Tailed Hawks. Houston County also hosts Minnesota's largest population of deer and wild turkeys and boy, did we see deer and turkeys!
Here's the first small flock of turkeys we saw close enough to the road to photograph. When you see large flocks of turkeys together this time of year, they're almost always hens with the surviving youngsters they hatched last spring. (Sometimes you will see small groups of tom turkeys together also, but none of these that we saw had beards, so we knew they're hens with first year offspring.)
I have no idea what they find to eat this time of year, but apparently there's enough seeds that they're able to scrounge from the ground to survive through the winter.
Coming around another curve in the road we saw this big flock crossing the road. You definitely wouldn't want to drive too fast on this road!
Since the mortality rate of turkey poults is pretty high, I'm going to guess that this might be two family groups that have flocked together for the winter. They really weren't in any hurry to get across and I don't think this is a very heavily traveled road.
It was getting late enough in the afternoon that the deer were starting to move around from their sunny afternoon napping spots. Can you see the deer in the picture below? (click on the picture to enlarge it) Mr. Johnson spotted it and thought maybe it was dead, so we backed up to check for sure.
A quick look through the binoculars revealed the deer was definitely alive, but I noticed that it appeared to have an injured hind leg (where the orange arrow is pointing). Sure enough, after we sat there a bit longer, the little deer got up. Its hind leg was completely broken right at the "elbow" and just flopped as the deer hopped up the hill.
Here's a nice healthy looking deer we saw on another hillside. They've gotta be tough to be able to survive a Minnesota winter.
Here's another big group of deer we saw on the drive home. They were taking advantage of the bountiful food supplies left behind from this recently picked cornfield.