Have you ever been to the bog?
Birders in the Upper Midwest have known about Sax-Zim Bog for a long time as one of the best boreal birding destinations within a short drive from Duluth, MN. Many birders around the country and world, some of us included, know about it since the big owl irruption in 2005 when Great Grays and Northern Hawk Owls were swarming the place.
I was there for the first time last winter and I can tell you, it’s a special place. Birding these North Woods where all you hear is the wind through the spruce trees until, distant at first and then rapidly rising in crescendo, a flock of White-winged Crossbills streams overhead and alights on a nearby spruce to devour cone after cone reducing them to confetti. Or walking through the silent bog woods, knee-deep in snow, when a Ruffed Grouse explodes from near your feet and melts away into the trees beyond your view! Or watching a feeder along a roadside teeming with Black-capped Chickadees and then hearing that different chickadee somewhere behind you. When you turn, a bird flies overhead and you see the telltale rufous flanks of a solitary Boreal Chickadee as it heads past you and gleans a snack off the suet and seed left by the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog. This year we will revisit those places in search of the bog specialties, and make many new memories during our week of scouting and on the two days of the big event. But the bog is much more than the Brrrrdathon… it’s an important breeding site for many birds such as the Connecticut Warbler and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and hosts many charismatic species in both summer and winter.
This year Eagle Optics has sponsored our Brrrdathon team so that we can spend enough time to scout the field and plan a winning route in an attempt to take the coveted trophy back across state lines with us. To that end, we have named our 2013 team the EAGLE OPTICS BADGER IRRUPTION. That’s right, we’re bringing Wisconsin to Minnesota and we mean business.
This event is bigger than who logs the most birds. What we hope to leave behind is a substantial financial contribution to the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog who are making real efforts to conserve more land, build a visitor’s center, and institutionalize outreach programs to educate citizens about the importance of this wonderful wild place. So will you join us in helping to reach our fundraising goal?
Last year some of the best birders in the region tallied 53 species for the win. This year we’re hoping the currently mild conditions will hold enough to keep some open water available, therefore increasing our probability of finding waterfowl. We have set our goal at 45, but we’re gunning for 55, and we’ll do our darndest to get there!
So if you would like to contribute you can either pledge a lump sum, or pledge by the number of species. Got a particular species you’re really fond of? Then please consider a challenge pledge for that species! You don’t need deep pockets to help out, pledging 10-25-or-50-cents per bird will help us reach our initial goal in no-time!
We will be reporting from the field starting January 6th so make your pledge early and be a part of the Eagle Optics Badger Irruption!