Birdwatchers converging in NE Minnesotaby Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio
DULUTH, Minn. — Birdwatchers from around the country have converged on northeast Minnesota this weekend to attend a well-known bird festival and to see rare owls along the North Shore.
Bird enthusiasts were gathering in the Arrowhead region hoping to see small boreal owls feeding along the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Duluth birding guide Dave Hendrickson said that every four years or so, droves of the 10-inch-tall owls fly to Minnesota from Canada when the rodents they prey on drop in numbers.
"There's a lot of activity of owls along the North Shore right now, and a lot of birders are probably causing traffic jams on Scenic 61," Hendrickson said. "You know where the owls are by looking at the crowds of people."
Hendrickson is also a founder of the Sax-Zim Bog Winter Birding Festival, which is taking place about 60 miles northwest of Duluth.
About 150 birders from 30 states go to a sparsely populated area of bogs and hayfields for the chance to see difficult-to-find species of owls and winter finches.
Hendrickson said that many of these species are on birders' so-called "life lists."
"They want to see them, photograph them, enjoy them," he said, "and then they'll go home and cross them off their list, mission accomplished."