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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Minnesota in Winter

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space. The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES: Non-U.S. citizens will need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa. Consult your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for details. Canadian citizens should carry proof of citizenship in the form of a passport or birth certificate. 

PACE OF THE TOUR: At this time of year at this northern latitude the sun rises relatively late (approximately 7:30). We may have to drive as much as an hour and a half to reach our first birding stop of the day, however, so we’ll rise early enough to factor in driving time. The sun sets relatively early in the evening (approximately 5:30) so our days in the field will not seem especially long and we should be able to turn in early enough each night to allow a good night’s sleep. There will be moderately long drives between destinations on several days.

Breakfasts are at our hotel. Lunches will most often be taken at small cafés, which give us time to warm up and absorb a bit of local flavor. Barring unforeseen circumstances, suppers will be relaxed sit-down affairs in nice restaurants near the hotel.  

More time is spent in the vehicles than on most tours. We will try to get out and walk when the opportunity presents itself. We will rotate seats in the vehicle(s) on a daily basis so everyone will have the opportunity to bird from every seat. When not in the vehicle, with few exceptions, birding will be done from plowed roads and walk-able trails, usually near the vehicle itself.  Any walks through snow will be fairly short and will always be optional. 

HEALTH: Birdwatching in Minnesota in the winter poses no major health hazards. The most obvious issue is dealing with potentially very cold weather. Having said this, by dressing appropriately, we’ll find deep winter surprisingly manageable. It is of the utmost importance, however, that you come prepared for cold weather.  

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

CLIMATE: Average winter temperatures for this time of year range from 0° F to 30° F (-18° to -1° C) although we would expect some variation. Rarely, temperatures plunge well below 0° F – we’ve had -30° F  several times -  or rise into the mid- to upper 30s F (2° to 4° C). In open spaces wind-chill can be a factor but wind is rarely an issue in more closed, forested areas. Snow is possible and expected at any time. 

ACCOMMODATIONS: We will be staying in one comfortable hotel throughout the trip. It’s on the shore of Lake Superior and sometimes presents some nice birding opportunities for gulls and waterbirds. It is within close walking distance of several restaurants. 

FOOD:  Food is North American standard. 

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

TRANSPORTATION: We will be traveling by leader-driven 15-passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size. When using 15-passenger window vans, we take a maximum of seven passengers plus the leader/driver. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in the vehicle.

Updated: 03 May 2024