What is the Sax-Zim Bog?
Sax-Zim Bog is actually about 300 square miles of not only bog, but aspen uplands, rivers, lakes, meadows, farms and even a couple towns! It is not just a giant bog, but rather a “magic mix” of habitats that boreal birds love. The Sax-Zim Bog is prime habitat for bog specialists such as Great Gray Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Connecticut Warbler. Bobcat, Lynx, Pine Marten, Fisher also use this habitat. Mature bogs are also important wintering habitat for Great Gray Owl, N Hawk Owl, White-winged Crossbill, Pine Grosbeak, Common Redpoll and Hoary Redpoll. The land is laced with many dirt and paved roads. In fact, most birding is done from the road. We hope to change this with creation of hiking/snowshoeing trails and bog boardwalks.
The best time for the winter specialties is mid December through late February. Migrant warblers move through the bog in the second half of May. Breeding birds are in full song during June and even first week in July.
Located an easy 50-minute drive north west of Duluth, Minnesota, the Bog is easily accessible by many dirt and paved roads. Lodging is available in Duluth, Floodwood, Cloquet, Eveleth, Virginia and Hibbing.
Sax-Zim Bog Welcome Center
SUMMER SEASON: The Welcome Center is open daily through mid-July unless we’re on a field trip.
WINTER SEASON: The Welcome Center is open daily 10 am-3 pm mid-December through mid-March
DIRECTIONS: WELCOME CENTER ON OWL AVENUE
(Also marked on our birding map)
The address is 8793 Owl Avenue, Toivola, MN 55765 [NOTE: THIS IS NOT A MAILING ADDRESS…but put this address into Google Maps or Apple Maps.]
Directions from Cotton, MN on US53...
*Go West from Cotton on CR52/Arkola for 11 miles
*Turn South (left) on Owl Avenue
*Go 1.75 miles (second curve) to Welcome Center
Directions from Meadowlands, on CR133…
*Go East on CR133 to CR229/29
*Turn North (left) on CR229/29
*Go North to T at Correction Line Rd
*Turn West (left) on Correction Line Rd
*Road curves North and becomes Owl Ave
*Go North on Owl Avenue for 2.5 miles to Welcome Center
Activities at this tract: Stop in to the Welcome Center in winter…It is open daily from 10am-3pm from mid December to mid March.
Winter—Two dozen bird feeders are maintained in winter…and a half dozen deer rib cages are placed around to feed woodpeckers, chickadees, Gray Jays, creepers, magpies and in some years, Ermine (Short-tailed Weasel)! A short quarter mile, double loop snowshoe trail takes off from the northwest corner of the Welcome Center (SNOWSHOES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE WELCOME CENTER…FREE if used at this site, or $5 per pair for use in other parts of the Bog (must be returned during open hours). Gray Jay Way is currently a 1/2 mile trail that follows the ditch berm straight north of the parking lot through Black Spruce/Tamarack Bog.
Summer—Feel free to hike and bird the same trails listed above. A Butterfly Garden is maintained next to the parking lot that attracts many pollinators. There are also several hummingbird feeders in the garden.
Outhouse: OPEN YEAR-ROUND!
Species of Interest: Many exciting species have been recorded at this location…I guess it is the “Patagonia Rest Area Effect.”…when many talented birders and naturalists come to a nondescript spot in the midst of a huge habitat, many cool species are found.
Winter species—Regular visitors include Gray Jays, Pine Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, Black-capped Chickadees, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Ravens, Blue Jays. Less regular species includes Evening Grosbeak, Brown Creeper, Ruffed Grouse, Pileated Woodpecker. Rare species recorded here include Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Boreal Owl, Hoary Redpoll, Black-billed Magpie, Ermine, Gray Fox, Bobcat, Red Fox, Snowshoe Hare.
Spring/Summer/Fall species—The Welcome Center closes in mid March but there are still amazing birds here. During the last half of May, this is a good spot to start your birding day…migrant warblers recorded here include Cape May Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Ovenbird (resident nester), Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Mourning Warbler (resident nester) and more. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds use the sugar water feeders in the Butterfly Garden frequently. In the summer of 2016, a Broad-winged Hawk pair nested, and fledged two young, within 50 yards of the Welcome Center along the snowshoe trail. Other rarities recorded here during the “green months” include Red-bellied Woodpecker, Indigo Bunting, American Bittern (viewed through the Welcome Center windows during one of our field trips!). Birds nesting in the bog just to the north of the Welcome Center include Lincoln’s Sparrow, Palm Warbler, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.
**If you see something cool at or near the Welcome Center, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org**
Parking: There is a 15-car parking lot.
Signage: A large sign along Owl Avenue marks the spot of the Welcome Center. (There are no signs directing folks to this site though)
Location: The Welcome Center is located about 1.5 miles south of Arkola/CR52 on Owl Avenue
GALLERY OF WELCOME CENTER CRITTER & PEOPLE PHOTOS HERE
Sax-Zim Bog Land Tracts
For more information about our Land Tracts, follow the link below to our new website pages featuring all of the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog properties!