- The Boreal Owl doesn’t have a very long life, living only to be 7 or 8 years old.
On January 12 at 4am, my friend Andrew drove from St. Louis, MO to Meadowlands, MN (St. Louis County) home of Sax-Zim Bog. What awaited us was a “Birder’s Life List or Species” new northern species, of raptors and birds that never make it down to St. Louis, Missouri. So each bird I share on this blog, will be Lifers or Firsts (having never seen that species) Day 1 – With gear packed and a good breakfast behind us, we loaded up our rental and headed out to the Bog with our guide Frank. The temperature on the first morning was -37°, you can’t even begin to imagine, what shooting in those temps feels like, but we were soon going to find out. The first Boreal bird we saw, was the Northern Hawk-owl. He was basking atop a pine, soaking up the rays of the morning’s first light. Spent about 15 minutes or so on the Northern Hawk-Owl, we packed up our gear and moved further down into the Bog, to see what other goodies await. As luck would have it, the sun as at a nice point above the horizon, to our backs and in front of was a group of songbirds, huddled up to conserve energy, so we waited them out, until it was their breakfast time and that plan paid off. After spending the morning watching the songbirds forage for seeds, we drove over to Admiral Road, feeder in search of a reported “Pine Marten.” We spent about 30-45 minutes waiting for the star to arrive at the show, but that moment never came. Luckily I was able to see another species of a songbird; which was yet another first. I call them cuddle buddies, some species of songbirds will huddle, bunching together to share warmth. A very late lunchtime, in the Bog, a must eat place for Bog travellers is “Wilbert Cafe.” Good food choices on the menu and breakfast available all day. As we were wrapping lunch we decided to seek out the location of our next life, the Northern Shrike, we were able to see it, but he/she wisely stayed out of my photographic range. My style of photography is not to cause any stress to the subject’s natural behaviour, so chasing or getting really close to the subject to get the perfect shot is a “no-go.” Our guide, Frank got a tip, Boreal Owl, down near the Lakeshore Drive along Lake Superior. So we left the Bog and proceeded on the hour drive, down to the Lakeshore Drive. When we arrived at Lakeshore Drive, there was already a small crowd gathered around the area were the normally nocturnal owl was sighted.