My Northwoods Bird Wish List

I can’t be the only one who, whenever I’m visiting an area with the potential to add a number of species to my life list, compiles a mental wish list of birds to watch out for. Sometimes I have more luck checking off my desired species than others (my national park road trip with my family last summer, while spectacular, netted me only two lifers – Mountain Bluebird and Juniper Titmouse), but that’s life. Inevitably I have a list of boreal birds I’d like to add to my life list during my two years here in nothern Wisconsin, too. So far I have yet to get a single life bird since moving here but I still have plenty of time.

I’d really like to see…

  • Long-tailed Duck (and perhaps Red-necked Grebe, and if I’m very lucky maybe Harlequin Duck as well) – thank you Sax-Zim Bog Birding Festival! Scored my lifer Long-tails on 2/17/13.
  • Spruce Grouse
  • Black-backed Woodpecker (and sure, in an ideal world Three-toed Woodpecker too, but Black-backed is a more realistic goal)
  • Boreal Chickadee One mixed in with a flock of Black-capped on 9/2/12
  • Bohemian Waxwing Spotted in an ornamental tree in front of the bank in Land O’ Lakes on 1/15/12.
  • Common Redpoll (and possibly Hoary Redpoll too if I’m especially lucky). Scored the Common 12/15/11 – see here. Picked up the Hoary at Sax-Zim on 2/16/13.
  • Pine Grosbeak Saw this one at the same time as the Bohemian Waxwings – see above!
  • Evening Grosbeak See below.
  • Perhaps some of the northern owls, too – Great Gray? Saw-whet (yes, I’ve never seen a Saw-whet)? Northern Hawk-owl? Scored my Northern Saw-whet Owl on 3/24/12 (see here) and my Great Gray Owl and Northern Hawk-owl in Duluth on 2/17/13.

At least I’ve learned that I can’t wait for the birds to come to me – I have to make the time to seek them out, like when I trekked to Moody Forest in Georgia to get my life Red-cockaded Woodpecker. I’m hoping eBird, with its ability to show me a map of local hotspots for any species I type in, will make this easier. I’ve already identified an old logging road in the area that seems to be the place to go around here to find Spruce Grouse, and I’m hoping to check it out when I have time soon.

Happy birding!

I wrote this as a draft on Tuesday. Wednesday morning I was in the office of one of the school administrators I work with when a Purple Finch turned up at the little feeder suction-cupped to her window. When I commented on it, saying that I’d only seen Purple Finches a couple times before because they aren’t common in Ohio, she told that an Evening Grosbeak had been hanging around the previous day as well. Trying to contain my excitement and not come across as a crazy person, I asked her to please, PLEASE tell me if it turned up again. A few minutes later from my own (windowless) office down the hall, I heard her yell “REBECCA, COME QUICK!”, leaped out of my chair, booked it down the hallway, and was rewarded with the sight of a female Evening Grosbeak at the feeder.

Check. Good thing my office doesn’t have a window with a birdfeeder. I’d never get any work done.

6 replies on “My Northwoods Bird Wish List”

Congrats on the Evening Grosbeak! Sounds like you need to move to Utah or Idaho for a year or two to net those species on your list. Admittedly, their are a couple on your list that have been my nemesis birds. I just need to travel to the right part of the state to see them.

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