Published January 21, 2013, 12:09 AM

Sax-Zim Bog birding festival featured in New York Times

A Northland birding festival received national attention over the weekend. The Sax-Zim Bog Winter Birding Festival was the subject of a full-page travel feature in Sunday’s New York Times.

By: Andrew Krueger , Duluth News Tribune

A Northland birding festival received national attention over the weekend.

The Sax-Zim Bog Winter Birding Festival was the subject of a full-page travel feature in Sunday’s New York Times, with several pictures by local photographer Michael Furtman. The article was posted online a couple of days earlier — to the surprise of event organizers.

“We had no idea the article was coming,” said David Abramson, treasurer for the Toivola-Meadowlands Development Board, which sponsors the festival. “It’s certainly good publicity.”

The writer of the piece, Gustave Axelson, recounts his 2012 trip to the annual festival that brings birdwatchers from around the nation and the world to the bog about 45 miles northwest of Duluth. In particular, Axelson writes about his quest to see a great grey owl.

The owls are one of the big draws of the Sax-Zim Bog, which has developed a reputation as a great spot to see boreal bird species.

Axelson’s story points out some of the area’s rough edges, such as deserted buildings “half-sunk in the bog” and ominous no-trespassing signs.

“But see Sax-Zim through birders’ eyes,” he writes, “and it’s Shangri-La.”

The sixth annual Sax-Zim Bog Winter Birding Festival is set for Feb. 15-17. It includes dinners, presentations and, of course, guided trips to get birders out in the field.

“We set up tours to the Sax-Zim Bog and to the Duluth area,” Abramson said. “This year we’re starting a new series going up to Lake County. There are specific birds in those areas that people wish to see.”

Registration is required, and must be completed by Feb. 5. There’s a limit of 150 people, and as of Sunday night 113 people from 19 states had signed up; at least one person who registered Sunday mentioned the New York Times story. For more information, look online at sax-zimbog.com.

There also will be a free program — open to all — by the Raptor Education Group of Antigo, Wis., at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Meadowlands Community Center. The program, aimed at kids, will include live birds and information about how the group rehabilitates and releases them.

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