Teller Farms, Feb 9 -with Jamie Simo

Hoar frost on Teller Lake (c) Jamie Simo
Hoar frost on Teller Lake (c) Jamie Simo

Eight birders braved the arctic temps to enjoy Teller Farms this gorgeous, February morning. Teller Farms is a working farm with a trail winding through grassland, past several ponds and under an occasional stand of trees.

While the cold meant there was no open water for ducks, limiting the number of species seen, we were able to take our time and examine common species like the Northern Flicker and the Song Sparrow. The weather didn’t deter some birds at all though. Raptors were the highlight of the day with great views of both male and female American Kestrels. One male even enjoyed his mouse breakfast just a few yards away from us! Though smaller than his mate, the male American Kestrel is brighter with slaty blue and rusty red adornments.

A male American Kestrel eating a mouse (c) Jamie Simo
A male American Kestrel eating a mouse (c) Jamie Simo

We also saw 2 different Red-tailed Hawks, one a light morph and one a dark morph. The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the, if not the, most variable of raptors ranging from the pale Krider’s to the almost black dark-morph Harlan’s.

An adult Bald Eagle, serenely perched in a distant tree and a Northern Harrier gliding low over the grass using its dish-shaped face to funnel the sounds of scurrying rodents to its ears, rounded out the raptor extravaganza. However, we’ll give an honorary mention to the Blue Jay mimicking a Red-tailed Hawk’s cry that had a few of us fooled momentarily!

Another special highlight came in the form of a mammal: a pair of coyotes loping across the grass. When we caught sight of them again, one had scored a meal of cottontail. It wasn’t clear whether the two were a mated pair or parent and not-quite-adult pup, but the larger coyote definitely wasn’t up for sharing its catch!

One coyote eats a rabbit while a second looks on hopefully (c) Jamie Simo
One coyote eats a rabbit while a second looks on hopefully (c) Jamie Simo

When out in nature, you never know what you’ll see! Next up: Walden Ponds on Saturday, February 16th!

Teller Farms, Feb 9, 2019 
14 species

Canada Goose 129
Northern Harrier  1 
Bald Eagle 1
Red-tailed Hawk 2
Northern Flicker 3
American Kestrel 3
Blue Jay 4
Black-billed Magpie 1
Black-capped Chickadee 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
American Robin 3
European Starling 30
Song Sparrow 6
Red-winged Blackbird 7

Front Range Birding trip to Minnesota and Sax Zim Bog

Who goes to Minnesota in January? If you want to see Great Gray and Snowy Owls then traveling to the Sax Zim Bog just outside Duluth, Minnesota is a must. Front Range Birding helped, along with Sheridan Samano of the Reefs to Rockies travel company, to lead a small group of intrepid birders to this cold north location to see these and other great boreal birds. 

Top left and top center – Great Grey Owl!  Top right – Snowy Owl!    Score!!

Bottom left – The drive into Sax Zim Bog      Bottom right – Our group from Colorado, Delaware, and New Jersey. 

Considering the weather, and dead of winter time frame, the number of birds seen was quite impressive. Most in the group picked up multiple life birds for their lists. The temps were very tolerable and brought out many of the Minnesota winter residents. Aside from our target birds pictured above, of note were the Black-backed woodpecker, White-winged crossbill, Bohemian waxwing, Pileated woodpecker, Boreal chickadee, and Golden-crowned sparrow.

We loved our stay in Duluth, Minnesota at the historic Fitger’s Inn which is located in the vintage 1885 renovated Fitger’s Brewery. The shores of Lake Superior offered great views and ambiance and all of us had a fantastic time. Thank you Reef to Rockies for setting up this trip!

Our complete list of birds seen is below.

  1. Mallard
  2. Common Goldeneye
  3. Ruffed Grouse
  4. Sharp-tailed Grouse
  5. Wild Turkey
  6. Bald Eagle
  7. Red-tailed Hawk
  8. Rough-legged Hawk
  9. Thayer’s Gull
  10. Rock Pigeon (feral)
  11. Snowy Owl
  12. Great gray Owl
  13. Downy Woodpecker
  14. Hairy Woodpecker
  15. Black-backed Woodpecker
  16. Pileated Woodpecker
  17. Northern Shrike
  18. Gray Jay
  19. Blue Jay
  20. Black-billed Magpie
  21. American Crow
  22. Common Raven
  23. Black-capped Chickadee
  24. Boreal Chickadee
  25. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  26. White-breasted Nuthatch
  27. American Robin
  28. European Starling
  29. Bohemian Waxwing
  30. Dark-eyed Junco
  31. Golden-crowned Sparrow
  32. Pine Grosbeak
  33. White-winged Crossbill
  34. Common Redpoll
  35. Pine Siskin
  36. American Goldfinch
  37. Evening Grosbeak

Our partnership with Reefs to Rockies is great and we are planning many more trips with them. Next up is a visit to the Sandhill Crane Capital of the World – Kearney, Nebraska March 25-27, 2017. Be sure to visit Reefs to Rockies website for details on this trip. Also sign up for our newsletter on this website to learn more about this and other great trips with Front Range Birding!