This shirt is now available at the Country Store in Meadowlands in Sax Zim Bog. All the sizes were too big for me, but I have started a tradition of giving all the bird shirts I would love to wear to Non Bird Bill. I gave it to him and he said, "I don't know, I've never birded the bog."
"Yes, you did," I insisted. "Remember last January? You , me, a librarian and a rockstar...about a dozen owls?"
"Oh, yeah." he replied.
Yesterday I headed up to the Sax Zim Bog area with Carrol Henderson and Mark Martell to a meeting with the locals and business owners about birding tourism in the area. Carrol talked about what is birding tourism, Mark talked about turning the area into an IBA (Important Bird Area) and I talked about how to market to birders. ( I'm beginning to think more and more that I'm a birding agent--Show Me the Birdies!)
I was so excited by the turnout. When Jim Larson and Pam Perry were putting this meeting together we thought maybe 12 people would show up, but there were about 70 people from the surrounding townships, and even Duluth. Some were excited to learn about what they can do to make the area more accessible to birders and some were just curious about all the fuss. There didn't seem to be anyone opposed to birders at the meeting but I have been in email contact with one person who thought people coming to watch her feeders in the front of her yard was incredibly rude and a huge invasion of privacy. I did think it was cute that she wonders why people wanted to look at her feeders, there were no owls there just common winter birds (pine and evening grosbeaks, hoary redpolls, the occasional boreal chickadee you know all those common birds we all get ;)
What I really liked about the meeting is that last night's meeting was the result of a group of people from the DNR, forest management, wildlife management, birders, townsfolks getting together to find a way to not tick off the locals and to find out what birders would like for the area. Also, there have been some huge misconceptions about how the land is managed. A couple of years ago, some people were concerned at what looked like willy nilly logging. What turned out to be the problem was a budworm infestation and they were trying to take out tress in the infected area to prevent the budworm from taking all the trees. This kind of communication is so important and we are really going to go in a great direction. I think it was a great idea to have a town meeting just to let residents know what was going on and that we weren't going to come in and tell the locals what we were going to do, we were getting their input and enthusiasm.
Birding in the Sax Zim Bog area is just going to get better and better. We won't have the owl irruption like we did, but it's still reliable for great grays (just not dozens by the day) plus other super cool birds. This is going in a great direction.