About the Birds

I haven’t had time to watch the DNR Eagle Camera lately but I did read an update about it. The eagles have been seen mating so eggs could be laid in as few as 10 days. If you want to see eagles mating you can go to their Facebook page. You can also see a video of raccoons and mice visiting the next. If you have time you might want to check out the Eagle Camera, it’s pretty neat.

Here’s some information about how birds in general adapt to the winter weather.

Winter adaptation
Many birds and other animals have a variety of physical and behavioral adaptations and strategies that allow them to survive even the coldest weather. Here’s a look at ways these amazing birds survive and keep us entertained throughout the long winter months.

Birds have a higher metabolism rate and thus, a higher body temperature than humans, making it a challenge to maintain this body heat in the winter. Many birds will spend the fall taking advantage of abundant food sources to fatten up for winter — something we humans try to avoid.

Feathers are excellent insulators and many grow extra feathers during a fall molt, adding about 20 percent to their weight in winter. Their feet are covered with specialized scales that minimize heat loss and they can constrict the blood flow to their legs and feet so blood flows only to their major organs. This means less energy is required to circulate blood and less warmth is lost.

Yes, birds do shiver, especially in extreme conditions. Shivering is a short-term strategy that raises their metabolic rate so they can generate more body heat. Shutting the heat down is also an important strategy. Birds can turn their legs into heat exchange stations, a term called “countercurrent heat exchange.” Because the veins and arteries in their feet and legs are located near each other, the warm blood leaving their body is cooled before it reaches the extremity (like a foot). Similarly, cool blood is warmed before entering the body. By cooling the blood before it reaches the foot, they do not lose as much heat (less energy loss). By warming the blood before it enters the body, they are less likely to get chilled by the cold blood.

Behaviorally, birds use a variety of techniques to conserve body heat.

Fluffing out their feathers to create pockets of air for additional insulation.
Tucking their beaks into their feathery shoulders to breathe in the warm air of their body.
Crouching to cover both legs with their wings feathers to shield them from the wind and cold.
Turning their backs to the sun to take advantage of solar heating on a sunny day.
Roosting together in shrubs or empty bird houses to conserve much needed heat.
Many birds will go into “torpor” to conserve energy. When an animal is in a state of torpor, its body temperature is lowered and its heart, metabolic and respiration rates are slowed to conserve energy and calorie output. It’s a short-term strategy (a few hours or overnight) for surviving frigid temperatures and severe storms.

But how can a bird successfully hatch its eggs in the dead of winter?

A few birds, such as the bald eagle and great horned owl, rely heavily on a brood patch, a bare spot on the belly that facilitates heat transfer to the egg during incubation. Interestingly, both male and female bald eagles develop a brood patch and share in the incubation duties. This is not true of the great horned owl.

Photo by Dave VichichImage may contain: bird and sky


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Best Place to begin a Boundary Waters trip

If you’re looking for a canoe trip outfitter for gear and supplies or just a place to rest your head the night before you begin your Boundary Waters Canoe trip then look no further. Voyageur Canoe Outfitters would love to be a part of your next BWCA or Quetico Park canoe trip.

canoeing in the BWCA

Voyageur at the end of the Gunflint Trail

We’ve got the perfect location to begin your next Boundary Waters or Quetico Park canoe trip. Located at the end of the Gunflint Trail our dock floats on the Seagull River. Paddling north from our dock takes you to Entry Point 55 Saganaga Lake and paddling south from our dock you’ll find Entry Point 54 Seagull Lake. There’s no need to transport you and if you’d like a towboat ride on Saganaga Lake then you can leave right from our dock.

We will transport groups to all of the entry points on the Gunflint Trail or we can make arrangements to get your gear to your entry point.

We’d love to talk about BWCA or Quetico Park routes with you so give us a call today 218-388-2224.

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Voyageur Winter Fun

There’s so many things to do in the winter at Voyageur. Unfortunately there are only so many hours of daylight so you have to make choices. This weekend Josh chose to spend his whole weekend ice fishing, again! I’d say that’s a great choice for a 16-year old boy.

Seagull River

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Posted in Gunflint Trail

Beargrease Begins


Sled Dog Marathon Start

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon begins in Two Harbors, MN tomorrow morning at 11:00am. Mid-distance racers will be making their way to Trail Center on the Gunflint Trail and arriving most likely after 7:00am on Monday morning.  Marathon racers layover at Grand Portage Lodge and Casino on Monday and make their way back down the shore arriving at the finish at Billy’s Bar beginning around 7:00am on Wednesday morning. There are checkpoints along the way to view the teams. Keep your eyes open for the dog trucks and cheer on the teams!

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Mining and the BWCA News

DULUTH, MN  (January 26, 2018) – After receiving more than 90,000 comments during a 210-day public scoping period, the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, with the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as a cooperating agency, will prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) to study the effects of a proposed withdrawal on the Superior National Forest. The Forest Service will cancel the Notice of Intent published in January 2017, which originally announced the agency’s intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Based on comments received, and Council on Environmental Quality guidance, the Forest Service will conduct an EA due to the absence of significant environmental impacts identified during the scoping period. If the EA analysis reveals significant environmental impacts, the Forest Service will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the public will be invited to participate in that process.
“While the science indicates significant environmental impacts are unlikely to result from the proposed withdrawal, I am deeply aware of the controversy regarding socio-economic implications,” said Superior National Forest Supervisor Connie Cummins. “Our specialists are working hard to ensure the EA accurately describes all the facts of the proposal, to aid the Secretary of the Interior in his decision.”

Although the official comment period for scoping is complete, in an effort to ensure substantial opportunities for interested members of the public to share their views on the proposed withdrawal, the Forest Service will accept additional public comment until February 28, 2018. Comments received will be considered in development of the EA, and included in the project record delivered to the BLM once the EA is complete. To ensure timely receipt and consideration in the environmental assessment, comments must be received no later than midnight, February 28, 2018 and should be submitted via the project’s website at http://go.usa.gov/xnfQh, by selecting “Comment/Object to Project” link on the right hand side of the page.

Previous comments submitted during project scoping represented the full range of public sentiment, from strong support to strong opposition. The Forest Service is using the information received in comments along with a review of environmental, social and economic information to prepare the EA. The BLM is responsible for ensuring the analysis and documentation address DOI regulations. The BLM will determine if there is a Finding of No Significant Impact. The Forest Service expects to complete the EA by late 2018 ensuring enough time for consideration by the BLM and Secretary of the Interior before the current mineral segregation expires in January 2019.

Once complete, the EA will be used by the BLM to develop a recommendation on the withdrawal to the Secretary of the Interior. Announced by the Forest Service in January 2017, the proposal seeks to withdraw approximately 234,000 acres of the Superior National Forest from mineral leasing actions for 20 years. Authority to approve the proposal lies solely with the Secretary of the Interior.

The proposed withdrawal is based on the January 5, 2017 Forest Service application to the BLM proposing a 20-year mineral withdrawal of 234,328 acres of national forest system lands from disposition under United States mineral and geothermal leasing laws. The proposed withdrawal does not apply to valid existing mineral rights, private lands, private mineral estates, private fractional minerals interests, or sand, gravel or stone quarries. The proposed withdrawal area is adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and to the Mining Protection Area, and is located within the Rainy River watershed on the Superior National Forest. Acceptance of the proposal by the BLM initiated a two-year mineral segregation, preventing new mineral leasing actions within the proposal area while the Forest Service and BLM complete an environmental study of the proposal. If the withdrawal is not approved, the segregation will end January 5, 2019 and mineral leasing actions may resume.

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Super Blue, Red, Lunar Eclipse

The second full moon of the month is happening on January 31st and that makes it a blue moon. Turns out that’s not the only thing happening with the moon this month according to Spaceweather.com.

“Three lunar events will come together in an unusual overlap that’s being playfully called a super blue blood moon. The second full moon in January will take place on the 31st, making it the first blue moon of 2018. It also will be considered a supermoon — one that appears slightly larger and brighter than usual because it occurs when the moon is near its perigee, or the closest point in its orbit to Earth.

In addition, a lunar eclipse will take place in the morning on January 31, temporarily giving the moon a reddish color known as a blood moon.”

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Spend a Summer on the Gunflint Trail

We are looking for students or young adults to work at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters this summer. Please don’t quit reading if you aren’t in the category of student or young adult because we would like your help in finding some quality individuals to spend the summer with us.

The reason we like to hire young adults is because of our housing we provide for our crew. It’s one large building with a commons area and private rooms for sleeping. While there are most likely a number of older adults who would get along well with the younger ones it works best when the age range is similar.

Can you think of someone who would be a good fit for Voyageur? Our crew is usually comprised of people who love to spend time outside.  They have hobbies like camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking, swimming, running, nature, wildlife and reading. Many of our crew spend their days off paddling and camping in the Boundary Waters or Quetico Park.

While employed at Voyageur our crew has free personal use of our equipment. This is a great perk that all of our crew takes advantage of during the summer. Whether it’s a canoe, tent or fishing boat our crew is able to use our gear when it’s available.

In addition to the love of wilderness our Crew members must love to make other people happy.  In order to do that we need hard-working, happy-go-lucky and enthusiastic crew members. We take pride in offering a one of a kind outfitting experience and we along with our crew must be willing to go the extra mile whether it means starting the day early, working through lunch or staying long after closing hours.

Our Crew performs a variety of tasks during the summer depending upon their interest and abilities. Everyone spends time cleaning whether it’s a bathhouse, bunkhouse, cabin or camping gear. Most people participate in the transportation of our guests via tow boat or vehicle. Each day is a new day with new tasks to be completed so it’s great to have flexible crew members.

Maddy 2017

We have crew members return to Voyageur year after year. We have past crew members tell us the time they spent at Voyageur was the best time of their life. If you know of someone who you think would be a good fit for us then please have them check out our website or give us a call at 218-388-2224. We would appreciate your help!

The Crew at the Canoe Races


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Boundary Waters Slush

Have you ever been walking on a lake and felt like you were falling through the ice? It’s a scary feeling. The other day while out snowshoeing in the Boundary Waters I thought I was going down. There was a good 6-10″ of snow on top of the ice and I was trekking along when suddenly my foot sank into slush that went past the top of my boot. It surprised me and as I tried to take another step sideways I sank even farther and lost my balance. I ended up sloshing around on my butt as I tried to quickly get upright again.

Getting your feet or clothing wet on a cold winter day can be a big deal. Lucky for me the temperature was just under freezing, there was no wind and the slush on the snowshoes wasn’t freezing solid. I thought about turning back but I had a destination in mind so I continued on my way wet feet and all.

As I was walking I thought about tales I had heard of other folks encountering slush while traveling on snow covered wilderness lakes. My first thought went to a story I heard about some old-timer around Saganaga. They were out getting supplies or checking a trap line and the ice built up so thick on their snowshoes they had to stop and make a fire to let them thaw out before they could return home.

Thankfully I was just on a short, leisurely trek and the only thing hurt by the slush were my legs. They were super sore and tired from lifting up 10 pounds of slush on top of my snowshoe with every step I took.

Why does slush form on lakes? It can happen in a couple of different ways. One way slush forms is when the weight of the snow on top of the ice presses down and that causes water to come up between cracks in the ice. Ice is always expanding and contracting so when it cracks beneath the snow the water comes up onto the ice but the snow insulates it and prevents it from freezing completely. Another way it can form is when it’s warm outside and the snow on top of the ice melts. The water seeps beneath the snow and collects on top of the ice forming a slush pocket.

I’m hoping the slush will freeze as it sometimes does during the winter.  It will take cold temperatures or some wind to blow the snow off of the ice to allow the slush to be exposed and freeze. And if it doesn’t? Next time I’ll wear bigger snowshoes so I don’t sink down quite as deep.

Slushy Tracks on a BWCA lake

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Quetico Park Permits and Fees

Wilderness Canoe trips

Paddling past palisades in the Quetico Park

Want to paddle the Quetico Park this summer? We have quite a bit of information about traveling into this incredible Ontario Provincial Park on our website and you are always welcome to give us a call with questions, 218-388-2224.


The Quetico Park offers a number of awesome wilderness canoe trip routes for short or long camping trips. There are lakes and rivers with a variety of scenery and fishing opportunities. The Quetico is a bit more rustic than the neighboring Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota as it does not have latrines or fire grates at the campsites. Although the campsites are not designated, meaning you can camp wherever you’d like,  according to their website there are over 2200 interior sites to choose from.

In order to paddle and camp in the Quetico Park you need to reserve a permit and purchase overnight camping fees. The permit can be reserved up to five months in advance of the start date of your trip and we can reserve those for you if you provide us with your Visa or Mastercard information to cover the $113 fee. $100 of the reservation is credited towards your overnight camping fees that you pay for at the Quetico Park ranger station.  You can find more information about their reservation and cancellation fees online.

Permits for Quetico Park

Quetico Park

The Quetico Park will either mail or email you a confirmation letter with more information containing your entry point and entry date. You must travel the route reserved and enter at the specific ranger station that your permit states. You’ll purchase your overnight camping fees at the ranger station. Fees are required for each night and each member of your group and cost $21.47 for adults and $8.48 for youth ages 6-17 years of age.  For more information about rates you can visit the Park website,  just be sure to look at the non-resident rates for entry from the south through Cache Bay.

A canoe trip in the Quetico wilderness is an amazing adventure. There are some additional permits required in order to paddle there but if you take the time to read up on the requirements and get the necessary paper work it’s well worth the extra effort.

Quetico – South Access Points (Cache Bay, Prairie Portage & Kings Point) (Residents and non-residents of Canada) Base Fee HST Total
Regular – Per Person (Age 6 – 17) $7.50 $0.98 $8.48
Quetico – South Access Points (Cache Bay, Prairie Portage & Kings Point) (Residents and non-residents of Canada) Base Fee HST Total
Regular – Per Person (Age 18+) $19.00 $2.47 $21.47
Permits for Quetico PArk

Beaverhouse ranger station


Additional information as it appears on the Quetico Park website.

Quetico is a specially managed Wilderness Park

The protection of Quetico Provincial Park is guided by rules and regulations that backcountry campers must adhere to. While this is not a comprehensive list, the following are a few notable rules to follow.

Can and Bottle Ban: Non-burnable, disposable food and beverage containers are not allowed. Fuel, insect repellent, medicine, personal toiletry (non-food & beverage) containers are permitted only. Please carry out all fuel cans
Mechanized Use: It is illegal to possess a motorized boat, power saw, gasoline generator or power ice auger in the park. No person may use a mechanized portage device, all terrain vehicle, snowmobile or similar mechanized equipment in Quetico Provincial Park.
Party Size: Nine people is the maximum party size allowed on a campsite. It is recommended that large parties (any group over 5 people) travel separately across lakes and portages.
Fishing: Ontario fishing regulations require the use of artificial bait and barbless hooks within Quetico Provincial Park. Live or dead organic bait is not permitted in the park. Examples include leeches, worms and salted minnows. Live and dead bait can introduce invasive aquatic species. Barbed hooks may be pinched to conform to regulation. Reduce fish mortality by using barbless hooks, keep fish handling to a minimum, use proper fish handling techniques, and be aware of fishing regulations.. A valid Ontario fishing licence is required for fishing and must be in your possession. Licences are not available at all park stations and should be purchased prior to your arrival at www.ontario.ca/fishing
Pets: Pets must be leashed while visiting the park. Non-residents must be able to provide a current vaccination certificate. Please remember to pick up after your pet.
Firearms: Possession of a firearm, including a rifle, shotgun, handgun, air gun, pellet gun, paintball gun, slingshot, bow or crossbow is prohibited. Hunting, molesting and harassing wildlife is also prohibited.
Canoe/Kayaks: Canadian Boating Safety regulations require:
One lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) of appropriate size for each person on board
One buoyant heaving line no less than 15 m (49’3”) in length
One manual propelling device (i.e. set of oars or paddle) or an anchor with no less than 15 m (49’3”) of cable, rope or chain in any combination
One bailer or one manual water pump fitted with or accompanied by sufficient hose
Sound-signalling device (whistle)
Watertight flashlight if paddling at night (Batteries must work)

Please check current boating requirements to ensure regulations are met at http://www.tc.gc.ca
Litter: Pack out all non-burnable garbage, including tinfoil. You may not leave any litter in a provincial park, except in a place designated for that purpose. Likewise, you must keep your interior campsite clean and sanitary at all times. This will help prevent problems with bears and will also help to preserve Quetico’s wilderness.
Closed Campsites: You may not camp on sites that are closed to camping. Obey no camping signs.
Quota System: You must enter Quetico during business hours through the ranger station, on the entry date and entry point designated on your permit. Do not take unnecessary risks, late arrivals due to high winds will be accommodated.
Vegetation: It is unlawful to remove, cut or damage any vegetation. For fuel wood, use only fallen dead wood collected from the shoreline and far from your campsite.
Historical Sites: Quetico has a number of important archaeological sites within its boundaries. You may not remove, damage or deface any relic, artifact or natural object or any site of archaeological or historical interest. You may not disturb these sites, make an excavation for any purpose, or conduct research without written permission from Ontario Parks.
Pictographs: Leave archaelogical, historical and pictograph sites untouched. The Pictographs in Quetico are spiritually sacred for Anishinabe People. Approach all pictographs queitly and respectfully. It is illegal to deface these sites or remove objects such as bones, arrowheads, and other artefacts. Quetico’s pictographs are fading. Do not touch the pictographs: Oil and perspiration can accelerate the deterioration of the pigment.
Campfires: Use existing fire rings. Fire pits must be built on bare rock or bare mineral soil and kept 1.5-3m from vegetation including overhanging trees. If windy, do not have campfires. Make sure your fire is out. Fires are prohibited in a restricted fire zone. Possession or ignition of fireworks in a provincial park is illegal.
Equipment Caching: It is unlawful to store or leave unattended any watercraft or equipment in the park without the permission of the park superintendent.
Campsite Structures: Do not build tables, chairs or other structures at your campsite. Please leave the campsite as you found it, taking all your gear with you, including fire grills and grates.
Noise: Enhance your own experience and the experience of others by keeping noise to a minimum. We also encourage all aircraft to fly 4000 ft. above sea level when possible to help reduce noise levels.

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Cactus in the Boundary Waters?

The hoarfrost on the trees looked like cactus to me. Hoarfrost? Where on earth did that word come from? It sounds so odd. It’s Old English according to Dictionary.com,  “expressing the resemblance of white feathers of frost to an old man’s beard.”

Why did we have hoarfrost on the trees? I knew it had something to do with moisture in the air…

According to Weather.com “Water vapor in the air over cold ground with a surface dew point at least as cold as 32 degrees. The water molecules contact a subfreezing surface and they jump directly from a gas state to a solid state leading to a coating of tiny ice crystals. ”

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