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12 weeks of winter: Go owling

Starting to get a little cabin fever this winter? We've got a list of activities to keep you busy for the rest of Minnesota's longest season! Each week we will share a new nature activity for you to try in order to beat the cold and enjoy the great outdoors.

Make sure you bundle up, and use your best judgment on those super chilly days—when the temps dip dangerously low, consider indoor nature activities instead. 

snowy owl flying with captured prey

Ready to beat the winter doldrums? We've got a fantastic list of fun activities to keep you busy for the rest of Minnesota's longest season! Once a week for the next 12 weeks we will share a new nature activity for you to try, and we're kicking it off with owling!

Go owling

Head out on a hunt to find this elusive raptor. There are 12 species of owl that can be found in Minnesota: barn owl, barred owl, boreal owl, burrowing owl, Eastern screech owl, great grey owl, great horned owl, long-eared owl, Northern hawk owl, Northern Saw-whet owl, short-eared owl and snowy owl. 

But there's a catch! Not all are here year-round. Research owls on the Minnesota DNR website to find out which ones are around right now, and then see which ones you can add to your life list.

Tips for winter owling

  • Winter is a great time to see the snowy owl (a visitor from Canada), and they can be seen as far south as the Minnesota River Valley. Snowy owls are active during the day.
  • Great horned owls are the most common owl in our state. They begin nesting in January or February.  They make a loud hooting sound and high-pitched screams. These birds are active at dawn and dusk as well as in the dark of night.
  • Sax-Zim Bog in Northeastern Minnesota is well known for its owls in the winter months. 
  • The Facebook page Owl About Minnesota is a great place to learn about what birds are being spotted across the state.

If you have a child in your life, we also recommend you check out the book Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. We hope you enjoy your winter owling!

Amy Rager is an Extension educator based in Morris, MN, and oversees the Minnesota Master Naturalist program.

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