We, with our friends Gary and Rosie, were taking a short winter "birding break" to Northern Minnesota famous Sax Zim bog. This is the same place that was featured in the recent movie, The Big Year. It was colder than heck. Maybe -30 degress wind chill. Still we were hopeful. Sax-Zim Bog is the place, some say, to bird in Minnesota. Indeed, species difficult to find elsewhere are often much easier in "the bog." Upland Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Great Gray Owl, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Connecticut Warbler and LeConte's Sparrow all nest here. In winter one can look for Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Norhtern Goshawk, Northern Shrike, Snow Bunting, Pine and Evening Grossbeaks, pine siskins, crossbills and redpolls. Here's a few Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, I took on a previous trip to the area.
The birding highlight of the trip though was a rare Northern Goshawk spotted by sharp-eyed Rosie. This large reclusive woodland raptor is found throughout the northern part of the northern hemissphere. Adults defend their territories fiercely from intruders, including passing humans. It is presumed that their unusually aggressive nest defense is an adaptation to tree-climbing bears species, such as the
black bear in North America. Other raptors are also attacked at nest sites, and often cede territory to, or are themselves killed by the aggressive Goshawk. The Northern Goshawk is considered a secretive raptor, and is rarely observed even in areas where nesting sites are common.
The following Goshawk pictures are courtesy of fellow birder Andy Nyhus of Winona Mn.