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I'll be brief since this is about MN birds. But I know some MO birders will 
be heading there...

Duluth is 682 road miles from St. Louis. It takes a little over an hour by 
airplane to get to Minneapolis. That'd be my first recommendation to getting 
yourselves there if you're pressed for time. Round-trip ticket was only 
$168.00 with only a one-day notice (Nothwest Airlines).

Dave Garcia and I spent most of Saturday in Carlton County, just SW of 
Duluth. and we saw about two dozen Great Grey Owls, some just 10 feet from 
the road (which, in other locations, has proven very lethal to about 250 of 
these birds this winter). The roads we took were all gravel or snow-packed 
and essentially no other vehicle traffic to compete with. We didn't see 
anything else of note on Saturday, except lots of signs of a Black-backed or 
Three-toed Woodpeckers (but only catching the birds in flight on different 
occasions). At a State Park not far from the area, which name eludes me at 
this point, we saw some Pine Siskins, Pine Grosbeaks, and lots of Common 
Redpols. Bohemian Waxwings were seen previously, but we missed them.

Sunday we went to Sax-Zim Bog and had several Northern Hawk Owls with just a 
few Great Greys mixed in. But we did see a Black-backed Woodpecker in its 
expected location, Black-billed Magpies, Northern Shrikes, and just missed 
seeing three Sharp-tailed Grouse. We missed the Boreal Chickadees and the 
Three-toed Woodpeckers also. We also see 3 Bald Eagles here, as well as a 
couple of their nests.

At the Duluth Airport we saw the Snowy Owl which has been seen regularly for 
some time now.

In Aitkin County, both Northern Hawk Owls and Great Greys were plentiful, 
more so than the places just mentioned. Many other rare birds were reported 
in this county, but again, we didn't make for enough time to really do this 
area justice.

We wished we had made time for Two Harbors, MN, which is less than an hour 
from Duluth, where a Boreal Owl, Harlequin Duck, and Yellow-billed Loon were 
recently reported.

The boreal forests and bogs of northern MN are breathtaking. The beauty of 
the area is enough to be appreciated.

Go to http://www.lauraerickson.com for information about birding in this 
area. Call 218-728-5030 to reach the Duluth Area Bird Alert.

Bob Bailey
St. Louis, MO

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