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BRRRRdathon 2023 Results

January 18, 2023 Category:

You could not have asked for better January weather with lows around zero and highs in the 20s with light winds. In fact, it seemed downright balmy compared to last year’s 20-30 BELOW ZERO temps and strong winds.

Teams wandered far and wide in our BRRRRdathon “playing field” of northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Birds were sought from Grand Marais to Grand Rapids, from Superior, Wisconsin to Crow Wing County, Minnesota, and from the Sawbill Trail to Sax-Zim. Steve & Diane Millard (Team Common Oldenguys) birded their home turf of Otter Tail County, Minnesota.

Among the very good composite total of 69 species (73 in 2017 was our highest) were excellent finds including Team HERG-only’s incredible sighting of a Boreal Chickadee mobbing a N. Saw-whet Owl on Park Point! Unusual ducks included Redheads in Agate Bay, Wood Duck near Pokegama Dam and a Bufflehead in Grand Marais (her third winter in a row at this spot). The Sax-Zim Trumpeter Swan was tallied by many groups. All the expected gulls (including Iceland, Glaucous, Lesser & Greater Black-backeds) and woodpeckers (including an American Three-toed near Cook) were tallied. A continuing Eurasian Tree-Sparrow in Superior added 5 points for multiple teams.

Our compilation dinner at Dovetail Cafe/Duluth Folk School (Thanks Tim!) was a cozy and cramped and crazy affair as 19 of us jammed into one room (Indiana is only 6-months old so she didn’t take up too much space). We tallied our species while enjoying good food and drink, with the bonus of hearing all the fun stories from the weekend. Many door prizes were handed out (34 to be exact!) and the winners in each category received their “I survived the World’s Coldest BRRRRdathon mug.

This is a fundraiser for Friends of Sax-Zim Bog and, once again, John Ellis was the number one pledge-getter and presented us with a check for $800!

We hope you can join the fun (and mayhem) in early January 2024!


Five non-motorized teams participated this year. Hannah, Sean, Steve & Steve literally biked away from the competition by tallying 45 points (27 species) along Park Point and the Duluth Harbor. Hannah’s team biked 22 miles in the pursuit! As the name of third place finishers, Team “T’JAA Walkers” implied, they hoofed it for 13 miles around the Duluth harbor and lakeshore to record 31 points (21 species).


  1. 1. HERG-Only (45 pts / 27 species) Hannah Tuotonghi, Steve Kolby, Steve Nelson and Sean
  2. 2. Chick-a-see Brrrrdee (32 pts / 22 species) Matti Erpestad, Ryan
  3. 3. T’JAA Walkers (31 pts / 21 species) Tim Bates, Jamie Tigges, Alex Tukaianen, Andrew Webster
  4. 4. Team (15 species) Ken Gilbertson, Pat Kohlin
  5. 5. Team Halle Lambeau, Nicholas Frye


Lou & The Brown-eyed Creepers (Lori Williams & Dave Steininger & Lou the Dog) won the 1-day event with 43 points and 27 species.

Sparky (Fat-biked King Twitcher) 2-wheeled it around the Grand Marais harbor (and drove up the hillside a bit) but was distracted by an awesome bookstore and a longer-lunch-than-he-should-have-taken and only managed a measly 25 points.


  1. 1. Lou & The Brown-eyed Creepers (43 pts / 27 species) Lori Williams & Dave Steininger
  2. 2. Fat-biked King Twitcher (25 pts / 16 species) Sparky Stensaas


After winning 9 of the last 12 BRRRRdathons, Team Grousing Twitchers (despite tallying an impressive 103 points and 50 species) were upset by last year’s second-place team Empire Shrikes Back, who, in the process, set a new record 115 points; Trey Weaver, Brandon Lentz and Edward Hicks found 52 species including a number of high-point species.

Emily & The Crow Wingers (Mark & Linda Seifert) in their meanderings around the counties of Crow Wing, Aitkin, Itasca and Cass tallied 43 points from 27 species including a female Wood Duck.

Team Common Olden Guys (Steve & Diane Millard) participated in Otter Tail County and found some gems among their 36 species such as Gray Partridge and Eurasian Collared-Dove.


  1. 1. Empire Shrikes Back (115 pts / 52 species) Trey Weaver, Brandon Lentz, Edward Hicks
  2. 2. Grousing Twitchers ( 103 pts / 50 species) Lars & Dave Benson, John Ellis
  3. 3. Emily & The Crow Wingers (43 pts / 27 species) Mark & Linda Seifert
  4. 4. Common Olden Guys (36 species in Otter Tail County) Steve & Diane Millard