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Winter Birds of Minnesota

Winter Birds of Minnesota Photography tour

Dates: December 15-20, 2024

Fee: $3,195
Deposit: $500 (Blance due in August, 2024)

Limit: 3 photographers 


Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota
Dec. 15-20, 2024
Fitness Level

A winter bird photography trip to Minnesota provides access to several northern species of birds that are hard to find in other parts of the country! The Sax-Zim Bog, located in north-central Minnesota, encompasses about 300 square miles of boreal habitat, primarily consisting of Black Spruce and Tamarack. This area features a magical mix of microhabitats, including farms, fields, forests, lakes, and rivers. This diversity of habitats fosters great biodiversity, making the Sax-Zim Bog a renowned birding destination.

The Sax-Zim Bog is one of the best winter birding locations in the country, particularly noted for owls and other hard-to-find birds. Among the most sought-after species is the resident Great Gray Owl. Other resident boreal species and winter visitors commonly found in the bog include the Northern Hawk Owl, Snowy Owl, Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, Ruffed and Sharp-tailed Grouse, Common and Hoary Redpolls, Red and White-winged Crossbill, Canada Jay, and Black-billed Magpie, which is at the eastern edge of its range.

In addition to birds, the Sax-Zim Bog is home to several mammals. Visitors might encounter Pine Marten, Porcupine, Ermine, and Bobcat, among others.

On location, Nikhil will work with a local guide for the first two days. This will provide the group with the most up-to-date information on where the target species for this trip are being spotted. The local guide is a very knowledgeable birder, enthusiastic about sharing what he knows about the birds and wildlife we may encounter. Plan to spend four full days photographing the winter birds! As always, Nikhil will guide you on how to use the light and take advantage of each situation, along with offering recommendations on camera settings and tips to create high-quality images that you will enjoy sharing with others.

We have rented a cabin that will allow us to be close to the photo locations. Everyone will have their own private room, though the two bathrooms will be shared. In the evenings, we will conduct feedback sessions as needed.

Equipment You Should Bring
Tour participants should have a minimum focal length of 500mm. A longer telephoto lens and tripod and/or monopod is recommended. Before the start of the tour, a full gear and packing list will be provided to help you prepare for this trip.

What You’ll Learn

  • Best settings to photograph birds in action

  • How to best use your autofocus settings

  • Tips for photographing birds in flight

  • How to capture compelling portraits of birds

  • How to handhold short and long lenses and get sharp images

  • How to get complementary backgrounds for the birds you photograph

  • Composition and creating effective environmental photographs

  • Plus, several other photographic techniques


This itinerary is subject to changes based on weather conditions, bird activity and other factors out of our control. We will always keep your interests first and try and get you to the best locations at the right time to maximize your photographic opportunities.


Dec. 15 

Pick up at Duluth and transfer to our cabin
6:00pm-7:30pm: Dinner
7:30pm-8:30pm: Orientation

Dec. 16-19

6:30am-12pm: Field session (Looking for Owls first and then other birds)

12pm-1pm: Lunch

1:00pm-6:00 pm (visiting boardwalks and feeder locations then ending the day looking for Owls)

Each day will be a little different depending on opportunities presented, our target species and wildlife sighting reports

Dec. 20

9:00am: Breakfast
10:00am: Checkout and drive to Duluth.
11:00am: Drop-off at Duluth airport. Flights should be booked for 1pm or after.

Itinerary Includes:

  • Personalized field instruction and guiding

  • Local guide for the first two days of birding/photography 

  • 5 nights lodging near Sax-Zim Bog

  • Transportation during the tour (pick-ups can be arranged)

  • Image reviews

  • Detailed documents will be provided to help you prepare for the tour.

Itinerary Does Not Include:

  • Flight/transportation to get to Duluth, MN

  • Travel/medical/evacuation insurance -

  • Tips for local guide

  • Meals and drinks

  • Incidentals

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