Come North with us and enjoy birding Minnesota’s boreal forest, the pothole wetlands of North Dakota and the vast prairies in between.Working with the Partnership for International Birding, we’ve arranged an itinerary that will allow us to take in these iconic natural landscapes at the peak of bird breeding activity.
Birding Minnesota’s Boreal Forest:
As we bird through the forests of Cook, Lake and St. Louis counties in Minnesota, we will seek a number of wonderful and highly-sought species, including Spruce Grouse, Canada Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Great Gray Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and Evening Grosbeak. About two dozen species of warblers nest in these woods, including a few that are normally seen only as migrants in states further south. We will especially be looking for Connecticut, Golden-winged, Mourning, Cape May, and Blackburnian warblers. Other nesting birds we hope to find include Ruffed and Sharp-tailed grouse, Merlin, Olive-sided Flycatcher,, Alder Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo and Red Crossbill. With a bit of extra luck, we might also find White-winged Crossbill or American Three-toed Woodpecker.
Besides birding through coniferous forest and mixed hardwood forest, northeastern Minnesota includes opportunities to find additional bird species in bogs and swamps including Trumpeter Swan, Common Loon, Sedge Wren, Swamp Sparrow and more. We will also spend some time birding along the shore of Lake Superior, especially around Duluth Harbor.
We’ll break into smaller groups each day for birding, with all participants visiting all birding sites over the course of the trip. Each group will spend one day birding throughout the well-known–to birders!–Sax-Zim Bog; another day driving the Gunflint Trail north of Grand Marais, which offers a concentration of opportunities for finding the bird specialties of the boreal forest; as well as a day searching Lake County for as many nesting species as we can find.
In the evenings, we’ll all return to Cove Point Lodge, our home base for the Minnesota portion of the trip. There, we’ll enjoy delicious local cuisine and the lodge’s beautiful forested setting along the shore of Lake Superior.
North Dakota Prairies and Potholes:
A visit to North Dakota’s prairies and pothole will allow us to enjoy a very different environment and some wonderful and seldom-seen birds. Once we have finished birding the fabulous boreal forests of Minnesota, we will make our way west, transitioning from woodland to prairie. We will bird our way to Fargo, with a good birding break in the late afternoon. We will then have nearly four days of birding in vast open landscapes of North Dakota.
In these areas, we will begin looking for Gray Partridge, Red-necked and Clark’s grebes, Upland Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, White-rumped Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, Black Tern, American Bittern, Ferruginous Hawk, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Yellow-headed Blackbird and Dickcissel. Sparrow enthusiasts will love the opportunity to see LeConte’s, Nelson’s, Baird’s, Grasshopper, Clay-colored, Lark, and Vesper sparrows, as well as a few others. With some luck, we may also see Sprague’s Pipits here and enjoy their marvelous skylarking song.
By traveling with the ABA you are not only enjoying great birding, you are supporting bird conservation and acting as an ambassador for the ABA community. We hope you’ll join a superb team of leaders and fellow ABA members for a most enjoyable and memorable visit to these key birding states of the northern parts of the United States.