Going to the Birds

     The rooftops in Grand Marais are covered in white.  Snow hasn’t fallen recently but droppings from seagulls certainly have. The seagulls are flocking to the tiny harbor of Grand Marais and lining up on the rooftops.

     The seagulls are excitedly awaiting the fishing boats that return to Dockside Fish Market in the Grand Marais Harbor.  Dockside is a favorite place of locals and visitors alike.  It’s a place to get fresh fish to go or sit down in their great deli for a bite to eat.  Many folks love to shop at their online store and order gift baskets for special occasions.  OK, back to why the seagulls love Dockside.

     Every year beginning in October and ending in December Dockside goes to the birds, or the birds go to Dockside.  Fishing boats head out onto Lake Superior in search of blue fin herring.  Boat loads of herring are brought into the Harbor where they are processed at Dockside.  Their eggs are used as caviar and shipped all over the country.  I had the opportunity to stop by one year and get a first hand look and smell of the process.  It is absolutely amazing the number of times these fish and their eggs are handled and the number of people involved in the operation.

     Oh, yeah, the seagulls, it’s about the birds, I keep forgetting.  Anyone who has spent time fishing knows how much seagulls love fish and fish guts.  You can imagine there are lots of fish guts and they are hauled away in large garbage cans that are trucked up to a field outside of Grand Marais.  In this field there are not only flocks of seagulls but also lots of eagles.  The 5th grade class took a field trip up to see them yesterday and counted 15 eagles amongst the fish guts and seagulls.

     Along with Dockside’s fish production the autumn bird migration also continues along the North Shore.  If you get a chance then come on up the shore for a visit, before it completely goes to the birds!

From DNR Information Specialist Lori Naumann ,

Many migrating birds, including raptors and passerines, concentrate in impressive numbers at the western tip of Lake Superior. Some travel from as far away as the Arctic and pass through Duluth on their way to their wintering areas to the south. Reluctant to cross a large body of water, migrants funnel down the North Shore along the ridges that overlook the city. Flyway patterns often follow coasts of large bodies of water for this reason.