• Excellent chance for observing several species of Northern boreal forest owls, some very close
• Several Boreal Forest species will be encountered
Southeastern Manitoba has become one of the premier locations on the continent for locating northern boreal forest owls. The list of owls present during most winters is very impressive; Great Gray, Great Horned, Snowy and Northern Hawk-owl, with always a possibility of Eastern Screech-owl, Short-eared Owl and Northern Saw-whet Owl. Numbers of each species fluctuate from year to year, but March is a very good time to be searching for several of these owls as courtship is beginning and the pairs can be very vocal on still nights.
Our leader on our Manitoba Owls birding tour, Rudolf, is a local naturalist who will have a very good handle on where each species can be found. In some years, the numbers of owls can be quite amazing. Other boreal species could also be present, including Sharp-tailed Grouse, Spruce Grouse and Black-backed Woodpecker. Songbirds include Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Evening Grosbeak, redpolls and crossbills.
Day 1 - Arrival in Winnipeg
Day 2 - Winnipeg/ Lac du Bonnet / Riding Mountain National Park
Days 3 and 4 - Lac du Bonnet
Day 5 - Departure
Please note that the following is our intended itinerary, but we may adjust it from year to year to optimize our opportunities for owl sightings on our Manitoba Owls birding tour.
Participants will be arriving in Winnipeg throughout the day. For those that arrive early enough, there are opportunities for birding on your own in and around Winnipeg. Alternatively, there are some great museums worth visiting in the city. We meet in the evening at our hotel for a get-together and to discuss possible last-minute changes in the itinerary caused by inclement weather. Night in Winnipeg.
After breakfast we leave the hotel. Where we go depends upon where the most reliable locations are for finding our target owls. We may head north and west of the city to look for Snowy Owls. En route we keep our eyes peeled for Gray Partridges and Snow Buntings. If the weather is right for diurnal raptor migration, we may next spend some time at a hawk watch site just south of Winnipeg, where we should see Bald Eagles and other raptors, including possibly Northern Goshawk. We have a picnic lunch, possibly at the hawk watch.
Next we head into the city where we hope to locate an Eastern Screech-Owl at a roost. Late in the afternoon we drive east of the city to our hotel in the town of Lac du Bonnet, which will be our base for the next two days. We may be fortunate in finding Sharp-tailed Grouse en route. After dinner, if the weather is calm, we drive still farther east into the boreal forest to listen for any owls that may be calling.
Alternatively, we may head west to Riding Mountain National Park, should reports of Great Gray Owls be regular there, or we may head north to Hecla Island. Night in Lac du Bonnet or appropriate location.
Our day outings start around 8 a.m. We cover roads and trails at the edge of the boreal forest, where we have the greatest chance of seeing Great Gray Owls. These birds are usually extremely tame and should allow for great photo opportunities. We have a good chance of seeing Northern Hawk Owl also, plus Bald Eagle, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Gray Jay and Boreal Chickadee.
There are usually a number of small towns and cottages in the area where we visit feeders to look for Common Redpoll and Evening Grosbeak. At this time of year there are usually still some Hoary Redpolls around and we have a slim chance of spotting a late lingering Pine Grosbeak. Crossbill numbers fluctuate enormously; with luck we may see some.
Other target birds include Spruce Grouse and both “three-toed” woodpeckers, but finding these species is often more a matter of luck than anything else. Lunches will be in the field or at local restaurants. Weather permitting we’ll try again for owls on the evening of Day 3. Great Horned, Barred and Northern Saw-whet Owls are all possible. Late afternoon on Day 4 we return to Winnipeg, where we have dinner.
Our Manitoba Owls birding tour ends today and you are welcome to leave anytime today.
• Great Gray Owl
• Northern Hawk-Owl
• Northern Saw-whet Owl
• Snowy Owl
• Sharp-tailed Grouse
• Spruce Grouse
• Black-backed Woodpecker
• Boreal Chickadee
• Bald Eagle
2016 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)2015 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)2014 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)2013 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)2012 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)2011 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)2010 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)2010 Manitoba Owls tour checklist#2 (pdf)2009 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)2008 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)2006 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)2005 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)2004 Manitoba Owls tour checklist (pdf)
Our days on our Manitoba Owls birding tour start with an early morning breakfast, and then we drive to areas where owls and boreal forest species of birds have been seen recently or are known locally as productive birding locations. The amount of daylight is not long at this time of the year, and we will likely be back at our accommodation by 5 p.m. Accommodation quality will be good.
Weather conditions are likely to be cold, with the possibility of snow or rain. It is best to dress in clothes that are appropriate for subzero Celsius (32 degree Fahrenheit) weather, although in recent years we have encountered above freezing temperatures for the duration of the tour. Walking will be limited to short walks on mostly level ground along roads; most of the time we will be inside the heated vehicle. Strong, waterproof footwear is advised and head gear to keep you warm is essential.
There will be opportunities for photography, as many birds and other wildlife allow close approach. In the evening we eat at a local restaurant or at the hotel or lodge where we are staying. At this time we discuss the day’s activities, review the list of birds and other wildlife that we have seen and heard, and prepare for the next day.
• Good quality accommodation• Breakfast and lunches• Ground transportation• Guides• All park, conservation and entrance fees
Not Included:• Flights to and from Winnipeg• Evening meals• Travel Insurance• Items of a personal nature
"Wonderful birds and a wonderful guide." - Manitoba Owls tour participant 2015
"My first tou and it was wonderful. Made me consider another tour. Well taken care of by our guides and hotel. Enjoyable group and lots of fun." - 2016 participant
"Guides were great, participants made for good companionship, some outstanding birds and excellent accommodations." - 2016 participant
"This is an excellent adventure to see northern (bird) species that rarely visit the U.S. Rudolf takes you into their winter habitat of natural surroundings, making it a truly awesome learning experience." - 2015 tour participant
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