Showing posts from February, 2014

Ruffed Grouse

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley When Mike and I visited the Sax-Zim Bog last week we were not successful in finding any owls, but we did come across a pair of ruffed grouse sitting in a birch tree right next to the road.  It was mid-afternoon and sunny, so the light hitting the tree and birds was golden, highlighting both their feathers and the reddish bark of the upper trunk.  The birds seemed completely at ease with our presence.  We didn’t get out of the car, but Mike stuck his camera with its long lens out the window and clicked away.  We knew that grouse eat the buds of aspen in the winter months, but we didn’t know they would do the same on birch. It was both entertaining and amazing to watch these medium bodied game birds, (they weigh between 1 and 1 ½ pounds),  perching and walking along pencil thin branches that bent down under their weight.  They occasionally opened their wings to help maintain their balance as they stretched their necks out to reach a bud, but for the most part th…

Traveling the South Shore of Lake Superior from Superior to the Tip of the Keweenaw

It was 2010 when Kate and I (Mike Link) walked around Lake Superior and enjoyed a magnificent 145 days of adventure and beauty.  Now the Audubon Center of the North Woods has asked us to lead a series of trips around the lake that combine the beauty, some walking, nature, history and exploration.

We thought this would be great fun and put the following itinerary together for June 22 - 28, 2014. The cost is $1650 per person and covers all be a couple meals with transportation to and from Duluth
Day 1Meet Duluth

Drive to Minnesota PointPicnicWalk - look at dunesDrive to BayfieldHikeWalk from Meyers Beach to Sea Cave overlook

Day 2
Ferry to MadelineHike, look at plants, birdsBig Bay State Park

Lunch  - LaPointe - free time to exploreFerry returnVisitor CenterSioux River Flats Beach Hiking Trail 

Day 3 Great Lakes Visitor CenterDrive to Porcupine Mtns Wilderness Park
Picnic lunch
HikePresque Isle river trail 

Hike beach from Union R…

Snowy Owls - Kate Crowley

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley In the last column I mentioned the snowy owls that have come south this winter.  Since then we have had a chance to watch one of the birds three separate times.  It is hanging out in some open fields near Jean Duluth Rd. in Duluth.  Michael Furtman is a wildlife photographer who has been out capturing this bird’s image nearly every day of the past month.  I doubt anyone knows the movements and behavior of a snowy owl better than Michael. If you’re interested he has both a website ( and a Facebook page where he posts his fantastic images. On the first day that we saw the owl, the sky was overcast, but the bird was very active.  It would perch on the ground for a few minutes, its head twisting and turning and then it would lift off and fly low over the ground, swooping up to land on the very narrow top of a metal fence pole.  Here it would repeat its survey of the surrounding field.  It is hunting and surviving on rodents, both voles and m…

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley Feeder Watch

I have been getting mixed reports this month on the number of birds people are seeing at their feeders.  Laura Erickson, birder extraordinaire up in Duluth reports far fewer birds than in year’s past.  Others have echoed her reports.  Here in Willow River we have had plentiful blue jays and chickadees, while just north of us near Barnum Ruth Pfaller reports almost no blue jays.  Joyce in Askov reports good numbers of woodpeckers and cardinals, the latter of which is not on our list of visitors.  We have not seen a single purple finch, pine siskin, or common redpoll.  One can’t help wondering “Where are these birds?”  In an exceptionally cold winter, such as this one, we would expect to see an irruption of species from the far north. It has already pushed the snowy owls south in what is considered to be one of the biggest invasion in decades. Apparently the lemming population was so large this past summer that the owls were super productive and many of the birds that have come south ar…