Minnesota - Winter Birds of the Northern Forests
Tuesday 16th January – Wednesday 24th January
Minnesota in winter offers unrivaled opportunities for northern owls, forest grouse, winter finches and adventure amidst the region's meadows, bogs and forests during its winter splendor. For many people the first image that comes to mind when thinking of Minnesota in winter is of frozen lakes, cold, snow and ice. To birders in the know, that image exists only as a glittering backdrop for Great Gray and Northern Hawk Owls hunting from spruce-top perches, Sharp-tailed and Ruffed Grouse stripping Birch buds by morning's glowing light, legions of Snow Buntings wheeling in tight formation, flocks of colorful Pine and Evening Grosbeaks refueling at bird feeders, frenzied Common and Hoary Redpolls darting among Alder thickets and Tamarack bogs occupied by industrious Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers. Add in boreal forest residents like Spruce Grouse, Northern Goshawk, Gray Jay and Boreal Chickadee; nomadic winter visitors such as Glaucous, Iceland and Thayer's Gulls; notable species like Snowy Owl, Northern Shrike, Bohemian Waxwing, Red and White-winged Crossbill, Varied Thrush and Townsend's Solitaire and you begin to see the attractiveness of a midwinter visit to these northern climes. Still not convinced? Well, recent winter tours have also recorded surprises like Boreal Owl, Gyrfalcon, Barrow's Goldeneye, Slaty-backed Gull, Mountain Bluebird and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch.As we travel through many remote areas of northeastern Minnesota, our chances of turning up a few interesting mammals are quite good. Past winter tours have recorded Snowshoe Hare, Beaver, Porcupine, Long-tailed Weasel, Mink, Fisher, Moose and Gray Wolf. Spectacular species like Pine Marten and Lynx are also possible.
As unbelievable as it might sound, northern Minnesota is a popular winter birding destination and there will be numbers of birders scouring the area for owls and rare birds. When you add the stark, yet striking, landscape and unpredictable weather, the atmosphere here is truly extraordinary. We'll use our experience to help you enjoy this one-of-a-kind adventure. Remember, we're there to look for northern owls, winter birds, experience the boreal forest in its winter splendor while helping you make it through your adventure with a minimum amount of discomfort and a maximum amount of enjoyment!
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DAY 1 UK - Minneapolis - 16th January
Morning arrival in Minneapolis. We'll enjoy some local birding for owls, gulls or staked out rarities as time allows. Night Minneapolis
Days 2 - 3 Duluth, Superior and Northeastern Minnesota's Aitkin, Cook, Lake and St. Louis Counties
Our schedule is purposefully kept flexible for one reason—it allows us to travel at times and to locations that give us the best opportunities to find your target birds. We'll visit secluded boreal forests bordering the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness searching for Spruce Grouse, Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Boreal Chickadee and the always entertaining Gray Jay. You'll travel Lake Superior's north shore and marvel at the simple beauty of ice kaleidoscopes along the rocky shoreline while we scan for ducks and gulls. Long-tailed Duck, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted and Common Mergansers are the more expected waterfowl species but rarities such as Harlequin Duck and Barrow's Goldeneye have been found in recent years.
Days 4 - 5 .
Airfare: £700 - £850.00 (Approx) - UK/UK
Zoothera tour prices explained
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 6 and maximum 12 with 2 leaders.
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, ground transport throughout, all entrance fees, all group taxes, local fees, group admissions, toll fees, park entry and permit fees, and services of leaders.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, meals (see below), drinks, tips, laundry, room service charges, and items of a personal nature.
Meal Costs: Only meals indicated in the itinerary are included in the cost of this tour (included hotel breakfasts.) Because a person can eat quite well for as little as $35 per day or they can choose to spend three or four times that amount for a single day, depending upon your choices - we do not include meals where we cannot control the costs. Zoothera Birding has a policy of NOT overcharging one person to cover another’s POTENTIAL meal choices -which we would have to do if all meals were budgeted into the cost of this tour.
Accommodation: Our lodging, for the most part, consists of standard hotel rooms close to our birding destinations. These hotels are uniformly clean and comfortable with the standard hotel amenities (two-bedded rooms, private bathroom facilities, hot water, phone, etc..).
Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour, where early starts are necessary to reach lekking areas beore dawn and we also have some late finishes to look for owls. The weather at this time of year is extremely variable, so you will need to be prepared for all eventualities. But we do expect some snow at the higher passes and in the wide-open prairies it may feel rather cold for most of the day.
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The vast plains of Colorado will provide a stunning backdrop to our birding during this tour.