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Michael Hurben—2018 Big Half Year

Michael Hurben 
My Big Half Year
My Big Half Year is ‘part one’ of an effort to see 2,500 species in one year while working a full-time job. For most of 2018 my wife and I will be in Bangkok, Thailand, on a work assignment and we will bird throughout Asia on weekends and holidays. I’m pledging $5 per species to Friends of Sax-Zim Bog (for birds seen Dec 26, 2017-June 26, 2018), and to Foundation Fighting Blindness for birds seen June 27-Dec 31, 2018.
Sax-Zim Bog is the Mecca of Minnesota birding sites. It brought us our first Connecticut Warbler, Great Gray Owl, Boreal Chickadee, Hoary Redpoll, and Northern Hawk Owl, to name just a few. Sites like Sax-Zim are priceless treasures, so supporting and protecting it are worth every penny. 
Michael Hurben (bottom right) birding in Ghana
Michael Hurben and friend (note Great Gray Owl in background!) in the Sax-Zim Bog
(**I had the pleasure of running into Michael in the Bog before he left for his year in Thailand. And our meeting just happened to be at a Great Gray Owl along Nichols Lake Road! Good luck Michael on your Global Working Big Year!)


Working days: 4

New species identified: 24

Total to date: 186

7.44% of goal, 3.8% of year used

Sites visited: Bloomington and Sax-Zim Bog, Minnesota


1. The only notable outing this week was a quick trip up to Sax-Zim Bog on Sunday, January 7. That is about a 3 to 3.5 hour drive each way from our house. It was a fairly slow day and we missed a number of expected birds; but we did get a long-time Nemesis removed from our life lists, namely, the Black-backed Woodpecker. Must have been about our tenth try for this striking carpintero. Other notables included a Hoary Redpoll mixed in with abundant Common Redpolls, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Gray Jay, Snow Buntings, and several Great Gray Owls, including this one:


With eyes closed, could be something of a big, cold Potoo

2. Since we will be using the first half of this Global Big Working Year to support The Bog, it seemed necessary to visit during our last weekend in Minnesota for the year. We had a chance to meet up with Sparky Stensaas, one of the founders of Friends of Sax-Zim Bog and the instigator of their Big Half Year fundraiser.


If you are unfamiliar with Sax-Zim, you should know that it is truly deserves status as a Holy Site of birding. It has been called the “Arctic Riviera” as it attracts specialties such as Northern Hawk Owls and Boreal Chickadees in the winter. And it is less than an hour drive from Duluth, another Mecca of Minnesota birding where oddball gulls, jaegers, owls (including Snowy and Boreal), and sundry waterfowl find themselves at the end of the natural funnel created by Lake Superior during fall and winter; while spring has tremendous songbird fallout potential at Park Point. Meanwhile there is nearby Hawk Ridge, where autumn sees astounding numbers of raptors channeled into the region in their attempts to navigate the boundary of the world’s largest lake.

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