My favorite place for winter birding is the Sax-Zim Bog. Its mix of seasonal boreal birds is unmatched by any other North American location.
The best areas are easily accessible by road: some paved, some gravel. Regularly maintained feeders dot the roadsides, allowing great birding from your vehicle. (Warmth!) There is a welcome center. (More warmth!) I almost always see certain winter species and can expect to find surprises as well. Northern Hawk Owl will make my day. Or Boreal Chickadee. Or Black-backed Woodpecker. Or Northern Goshawk. Or winter finches. Or Great Gray Owl.
Visit the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog website for a winter driving tour, checklist, and map. The weather is cold and snowy. Bring all the winter clothing you have. Drive with care. Roads on the birding routes are plowed but often not right away. Pull to the sides of the roads with caution. What looks like snow on flat ground is often a ditch. Tow trucks are scarce and expensive. Simply put, come prepared and use common sense.
The rewards: outstanding birds in a beautiful landscape. You won’t leave disappointed. — Jim Williams
Jim Williams writes a column about birdwatching for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He is a former associate editor for Birding magazine. He described birding at Alaska’s Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge and on the state’s Kenai Peninsula. And he wrote about Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Bloomington, Minnesota, Hotspot Near You No. 21.