If my first morning in Minnesota was the coldest, then my second was definitely the warmest. The high for the day was 20 F, 40 degrees above what I started birding in the day before.
A big highlight for me as a corvid lover was seeing all 5 species Sax-Zim Bog has to offer. They are the American Crow, Canada Jay, Common Raven, Blue Jay, and Black-billed Magpie. The magpie is not only my favorite bird ever, but is also the least common of the five at the bog. Living in Wisconsin, I had only seen them in Colorado and Utah on week-long trips. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to see this population, the farthest east of the species. The three I saw were at the northeast corner of the bog, chilling by the side of the road and flew up when I came around the corner. Even on a hazy, colorless day I think they’re beautiful, long tails behind them like the tail of a kite. It was a brief view, as they hung around in some trees for a minute before taking off for other locales, but it was a view of my favorite species nevertheless.
The Canada Jays remained cool, but they were no longer the coolest corvid of the trip.
I got my third and final lifer of the trip that day too with a male and female of a new species seen while driving. I made this a verbal sighting with “holy [expletive], those are White-winged Crossbills!” I like winter finches so much. That serendipitous sighting made up for the lack of Pine Grosbeaks and Common and Hoary Redpolls this winter. Pine Grosbeak and Hoary Redpoll would have been lifers for me, but I’ll have plenty of chances to get some more cool finches.
The highlight of my last day was my luck in seeing two flocks of Evening Grosbeaks: one of 6 birds, the other of 14 that flew overhead on the same road I saw the crossbills on the day before. Unlike my first morning at the bog, I got to see the female grosbeaks as well. They aren’t as colorful as the males, but they’re pretty in their own way.
After going birding on snowshoes for the first time (a short checklist of a Black-capped Chickadee and a Northern Shrike) I headed back to Wisconsin, murder mystery on the ol’ stereo system and fun times had with the birds.