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Virtually Live Field Trips

Virtually Live Sax-Zim Field Trip Series

Virtually Live 21 S2 E6, World’s only Outhouse Art Gallery? Fall in Sax-Zim Bog

Centered around a beautiful late October day when the Tamaracks were golden yellow this video gives updates on many topics…

  • This winter’s bird research including Hawk Owls, Evening Grosbeaks and Northern Shrikes.
  • We “find” a “new” SEVEN-MILE long hiking trail along the St. Louis River
  • Outhouse updates, pollinator native garden, electric lawn mower, gratitude gathering, and our bi-annual litter clean up
  • And the first winter finches of the season.

Oh, and of course a tour of the World’s only Outhouse Art Gallery!

Bog BioBlitz 20 in Sax-Zim Bog Virtually Live 20 S2E5July 17 2021

Come along and experience the amazing Bog Diversity of northern Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog! It is our NINTH Bog BioBlitz and 9 field trip leaders took folks in the field to discover a wide range of fascinating organisms—fish, aquatic critters, birds, dragonflies, moths, galls, mammals, butterflies, bees, flowers and much more. We tag along on several of the field trips and highlight some of their very cool finds. Please join us for the TENTH Bog BioBlitz in 2022!

Kestrel chick banding in Sax-Zim Bog Virtually Live 19 S2E4 June 29 2021

Have you ever peeked inside a Kestrel nest box? We check in on our American Kestrel box program with head bander Frank Nicoletti. Then we go band some chicks with Frank, Sarah and Hannah. Also get an update on this weekend’s upcoming Bog BioBlitz IX. And Sparky runs into a couple birders with whom he has a connection with. Plus some unique grassland birds including a bit about this summer’s Dickcissel irruption.

“Warblers & Warren” in Sax-Zim Bog Virtually Live 18 S2E3 May 28 2021

Even 25 degree temps in late May couldn’t put a damper on the breeding warblers of Sax-Zim Bog. Sparky sees Canada’s, Magnolias, Ovenbirds, Blackburnians, Nashvilles, Black-and-whites and several other warbler species. 

On May 28 he goes birding with Warren Woessner and Iris Freeman who made our boardwalk at the Warren Nelson Bog possible. They tell you about a warbler that we didn’t see, but heard very well…the premiere warbler of Sax-Zim.

We also eavesdrop on one of Head Naturalist Clinton’s school field trips, learn about an upcoming pollinator garden expansion, do some chores around the Welcome Center and tally the final numbers from our NINE Warbler Wednesday/Saturday field trips, including photos of the most rare species found on those excursions.

Virtually Live 17: May Birding in Sax-Zim: S2E2 May 8 2021

Sparky takes you along on an “early” spring birding trip in northeastern Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog. Only 25 degrees at the start, but the good birds warm things up…stunning male Black-and-white Warbler, lingering Evening Grosbeaks, Yellow Warbler, cooperative Merlin, and a very unexpected Great Gray Owl.

We also check in on the highlights from the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog “Things that Go Buzz, Croak, Hoot & Bump in the Night” field trip (can you say “cooperative Great Gray”!). Also a cacophony of frogs (4 species), displaying Snipe and more.

And we see how we discovered a $500 bill and a blond woman’s wig in the Bog. What?!!

You never know what surprises might accompany an episode of Virtually Live!

Sponsored by Friends of Sax-Zim Bog

NEW SEASON OF VIRTUALLY LIVE FROM SAX-ZIM BOG! Virtually Live 16: Sax-Zim Bog in early Spring: Birding—S2E1 April 2021

Birding in the Sax-Zim Bog in April can often mean birding in snow…and we had snow on both mornings of shooting…April 14 & 19….but the birds are returning! In Virtually Live 16 (Season 2, Episode 1)  we search for Sandhill Cranes in the hopes of capturing video of them performing their courtship dance. Sparky finds a cooperative and cute Porcupine along Nichols Lake Road, Ring-necked Ducks on Nichols Lake, and he shares some very cool sightings from this past winter and early April—Great Gray Owl, Porcupine, River Otter, Mink.

Virtually Live 15 Polar Vortex & The Wolf: Birding Sax-Zim Bog Feb 2021

Put another log on the fire and enjoy this bitterly cool “Polar Vortex” episode of Virtually Live from Sax-Zim Bog!

Filmed over several days including the morning of February 11 with a record cold Minus-46F start to the day. Yikes! How do our boreal birds survive this brutal weather? Sparky shares some physiological tricks our feathered fluffballs employ.

Then we flashback to warmer days and snowshoe with Sparky in Yellow-bellied Bog where he discovers an avian excavation. He then flashesback within the flashback to tell the tale of his wolf encounter in the woods.

We also visit the Welcome Center, Admiral Road feeders, Auggie’s Bogwalk at Fringed Gentian to see what birds and mammals are out and about in the below zero temps. I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

Cameos by Boreal Chickadees, Pine Grosbeaks, Northern Hawk Owl, Evening Grosbeak, redpolls and even an Ermine.

We know that not everybody can make the trip to Sax-Zim Bog. It is a remote place in a vast country. But these “Virtually Live” birding/nature videos allow the viewer to experience the birds and wildlife of this precious area. Join Executive Director and Founder Sparky Stensaas on these adventures in the field! Ready? Let’s go birding in the Sax-Zim Bog!

Virtually Live 14 BRRRRdathon 2021 Moose! Birding & Wildlife Photography Grand Marais Minnesota

The BRRRRdathon—World’s Coldest Birdathon episode of Virtually Live. This week we are birding in Grand Marais, Minnesota on Lake Superior just south of the Canadian Border. Sparky is participating in the Wintergreen non-motorized division. We go along with his fat bike birding. But he takes an early morning detour inland into the Superior National Forest where he finds an amorous bull and cow Moose! During the BRRRRdathon we see Long-tailed Ducks, White-winged Crossbills and more. Find out who won this year’s event.

Virtually Live 13 Christmas Bird Count Sax-Zim Bog: Great Gray Owl, Fisher, Short-eared Owl Dec 2020

Sparky’s 35th year as compiler of the Sax-Zim Christmas Bird Count turns out to be a record-breaker despite teams having to social distance. 13 hardy participants brave -10 below zero F windchills to turn up 39 species!

We also find a species NEVER recorded on the count before (revealed in the video). And Sparky finds several owls and gets some crazy cool images of a Great Gray Owl plummeting and pouncing on suspected vole victims.

We find Boreal Chickadees, accidentally film some Black-billed Magpies at the “Bison Farm,” make a visit to Loretta’s grosbeak-rich feeders and have a yummy lunch at the Wilbert Cafe.

Sparky also shares some exciting recent sightings of a Fisher chasing Snowshoe Hare and a Short-eared Owl on Stone Lake Road.

(The Sax-Zim Christmas Bird Count is not affiliated with Friends of Sax-Zim Bog)

Thanks to all CBC Participants: Bill Tefft, Lori Williams, Frank Nicoletti, Abbie Valine, Dave David Benson, Lars Benson, John Ellis, Sparky Stensaas, Sarah Beaster, Clinton Dexter-Nienhaus, Kristina Dexter-Nienhaus, Tony Anthony Hertzel, Tommy Hertzel

Virtually Live 12 Give to the Max Day episode: November 17, 2020

A frosty cold morning in Sax-Zim Bog turns up a few goodies…including a dawn Ruffed Grouse, a flock of Pine Grosbeaks (away from a feeder!), a Black-billed Magpie on a deer carcass and cooperative Rough-legged Hawk. We hike Auggie’s Bogwalk at Fringed Gentian and find an unexpected critter! Sparky also shares what your donation on today’s Give to the Max Day campaign goes to.


Snowy day in Sax-Zim Bog; October 24 2020

A rare (for Minnesota) Mountain Bluebird is seen, as well as a very late Palm Warbler. We drop by Mary Lou’s amazing feeders to see if the Evening Grosbeaks are around…and we check out her photo blind. Sparky will also take us to the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog’s newest preserved land…41 acres on the Whiteface River called Wood Thrush Woods. We also take a loop on the newly-completed Bob Russell Bogwalk.


This August 2020 episode explores Northern Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog in late summer. Executive Director and Founder of Friends of Sax-Zim Bog, Sparky Stensaas, takes you birding in the “slow” time of year. But a couple cooperative LeConte’s Sparrows in a flower-filled field steal the show. We also stop by Nichols Lake/Lake Nichols and bird the bog stretch of Admiral Road where we find Boreal Chickadees, Palm Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Canada jays and more.

Sparky also shows us the new platform and bench on Gray Jay Way trail north of the Welcome Center. And we go on a kayak journey on the Whiteface River where a pair of shy River Otters briefly make an appearance. Stunning emerald green and black Ebony Jewelwing damselflies perch along the riverbank.


Join Sparky in his Bog BioBlitz VIII exploration in the Sax-Zim Bog! Not just birds in this episode. We find some exotic insects, wildflowers and other exciting finds.


This is the “triathlon” edition of Virtually Live. Sparky kayaks, fat bikes and even walks a little in the Sax-Zim Bog during this June 2nd episode. We begin the field trip by kayaking from Stone Lake to East Stone Lake and find one of our latest migrants, the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (amongst many other cool finds), then fat bike to the Whiteface River and discover some unique birds and flowers in the floodplain forest on a parcel that we are in the process of purchasing. A cooperative Mourning Warbler rounds out our adventure.


It’s the Virtually Live edition of Waffles & Warblers! Except Sparky has Grape Nuts for breakfast instead. Twelve species of colorful warblers are found in the Sax-Zim Bog…and all are on breeding territory. Golden-winged Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Mourning Warbler, and more. Plus Bobolink heaven along Arkola Road. And Sparky makes an announcement about a new video series. Will this be the last Virtually Live birding field trip? Stay tuned!


Join Sparky Stensaas on a virtual birding field trip to the Sax-Zim Bog. Highlights include a hunting Great Gray Owl, a dirt-eating Porcupine, breeding White-winged Crossbills, juvenile Canada jays and 10 species of warblers including Magnolia, Northern Waterthrush, Black and white Warbler, tour of the new MOTUS tower and more. Sponsored by Friends of Sax-Zim Bog


In this week’s installment of Virtually Live in Sax-Zim Bog, Sparky takes us on a fly-over of the little-explored Blue Dasher Bog where he searches for Trumpeter Swans. We also bird Stone Lake Road and Zim Road. Great looks at a gorgeous drake Blue-winged Teal, singing Yellow-rumped Warbler, flapping Sandhill Crane, nest-building Trumpeter Swans and more. Three FOY (first-of-year) species are found including two iconic Sax-Zim Bog breeding birds…LeConte’s Sparrow and Sedge Wren.


The day started out promising with sunny skies, calm winds and a very cooperative drake Wood Duck, and then it gets even better with some RARE BIRDS for Sax-Zim: the Meadowlark of the prairies, a sparrow not normally found in northeast Minnesota, a surprising warbler on territory, and a pair of grassland-loving shorebirds (Thanks to FOSZB Head Naturalist Clinton and his eagle-eyed wife Kristina!). A very FAT and cooperative “quill pig” is the “Superstar Mammal of the Day,” but what will be the Superstar Bird? Stick around for the surprise procreative ending to Sparky’s Virtually Live field trip!


Join Executive Director Sparky Stensaas on a 5 hour birding, photography, video tour in northeastern Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog. We visit Nichols Lake, the Warren Woessner Bog Boardwalk, Admiral Road willow flats and the Welcome Center. Wild Turkeys in full display, slow motion video of Wilson’s Snipe doing their aerial courtship display, Porcupine eating willow catkins.


Our second Friends of Sax-Zim Bog Virtually Live birding field trip. April 21, 2020. On this outing Sparky Stensaas nearly drives right by a Great Gray Owl, finds cooperative pairs of Sandhill Cranes, photographs late Snow Buntings and Northern Shrikes and more. We wind our way around the Sax-Zim Bog from 6:20 am to 11:15 am with stops at Stone Lake, Sax Road, St. Louis River, Arkola and more. Superstar bird of the day is ????


Birding the Bog April 14, 2020