The month of February offers birders a chance to see and hear a variety of owl species including snowy, boreal, great gray, great horned, barred and northern hawk-owls.
Listen closely for the call and response of courting owls, especially during evening and pre-dawn hours. While many continue to establish territory, some are already nesting.
Owls can often be viewed up close, but birders are asked to do their best not to disturb them. Learn more about owls through the International Owl Center at www.internationalowlcenter.org.
February is also a great time to view bald eagles in southeastern Minnesota since portions of the Mississippi River do not freeze over and their food supply is abundant.
These overwintering eagles can often be seen high in the trees along the river’s edge or performing aerial displays to attract a mate. During the winter months, if you find yourself near open water areas, such as rivers and power plants, watch closely for trumpeter swans, Canada geese, common mergansers, American black ducks and common goldeneyes.
Did You Know?
Many eagles have already established bonds, and some have begun laying eggs. Check the DNR’s Eagle Cam to see a new eagle pair at the nest. While these eagles appear to be the same pair that nested here last year, staff have not been able to officially identify them.
Watch for early migrants
Some of the early returning migrants will soon arrive. Watch for small flocks of horned larks along county roads, and listen for flocks of American crows stopping to rest as they travel northbound.
Backyard Bird Count
The 23rd Annual Great Backyard Bird Count will take place Feb. 14-17 in backyards throughout the world. Everyone is encouraged to participate in this free, fun and easy citizen science event.
Participants are asked to count birds for a 15-minute period on one or all days of the count, then report their observations online. Scientists depend on this information to help determine the status of our bird populations. To learn more about participating visit gbbc.birdcount.org.