Great Grey Owl Sighting Attracts Dozens of Bird Enthusiasts to Duluth

A Great Grey Owl Was Recently Spotted Along Interstate 35 Near 21st Avenue East in Duluth, a Rare Occurrence

DULUTH, Minn. – The Great Grey Owl typically resides toward the tip of North America and across the pond in northern Russia.

Recently, residents in the Northland captured a rare sight, one that has bird enthusiasts speaking out in this week’s Great Outdoors.

“Even people that were just driving by living in the neighborhood, they pull over and ask what we are looking at. We point out the owl and most the time they hadn’t seen it before we pointed it out. The look on their face is pretty priceless,” said Alex Sundvall, a guide for NatureScape Tours in Tamarack, Minnesota.

Northlanders, helping their neighbors explore rare sights in their backyard.

“It’s awe and amazement usually. The Great Grey Owl is one of the most majestic and magnificent of the owls; they’re already kind of mysterious in ways,” said Sundvall.

Drivers experiencing stopped traffic and plenty of curious photographers near 21st Avenue East where the bird was perched, often flying from trees to nearby traffic signs.

“It’s pretty neat to have something like this in Duluth right now,” said Sundvall. “Every couple years there is what’s called an eruption where a lot of younger birds will come south and then you can see more along the lakeshore.”

Sundvall was so thrilled about this opportunity, he traveled in to the city to capture the sight and chat with avid bird watchers.

“Great grey owls are a heavily sought after species. It’s something many people wait many years to see,” said Sundvall.

People even coming from Illinois to click their cameras, capturing the young Great Grey Owl.

“This could be its first interaction with people so that could give some credence to why it’s not caring much about the people,” said Sundvall.

The species typically reside further north. Duluth is seen as a southern vacation destination for the bird.

“The Northland is south for them,” said Sundvall.

“We’re at the southern edge of their breeding range,” said Michael Furtman, a local wildlife photographer.

The Duluthian has clicked countless wildlife images over his 38 year career.

“Probably 70 percent of the photos I’ve taken have been taken in the confines of the Duluth and Superior city limits,” said Furtman.

He says although it’s a memorable sight to see, it can be stressful for the animal.

Furtman is urging future curious photographers to use caution and be respectful.

“It’s unfortunate it is in such a busy place. The number one cause of death for these birds in the winter is car strikes,” said Furtman.

Humans, focusing on getting the best social media post, while the owl is simply focused on food and flying further north.

“It’s wise to give them their space and not pressure them. They’re under stress as it is. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t already under stress. If there was plenty of food where they were from, they would have stayed there,” said Furtman.

Furtman says this owl is one of the few ever seen outside of the Sax-Zim Bog located in Meadowlands, Minnesota.

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