Early morning with the bird nerd

It’s not every day that you get to wake up at 5am and hike one of the most stunning wilderness trails around and get paid for it.  However, that’ s exactly what I did this morning and met someone who had what could only be described as an awesome job.  Duluth News Tribune reporter John Myers picked me up early this morning and we made a 35 mile drive north along the shore of Lake Superior to meet Anna Peterson who was working with the University of Minnesota Duluth’s National Resources Research Institute.  Her job was to take detailed measurements of bird populations, what types of birds she sees and hears, migration routes and more.  All of this would give researchers a better idea of what is going on with avian populations in Minnesota as well as give companies who wish to develop wind turbines along the shore of Lake Superior a better idea of where to place them so they can mitigate the impact to those populations as much as possible.

The cool thing about Peterson’s job is that she spends day after day on these trails and record all kinds of data about the birds she observes.  You could tell she absolutely loved the job too and is a self-described “bird nerd.”

When we started hiking it wasn’t too windy and we were expecting to see a lot of birds.  As we worked our way up through the hills, the wind picked up, which made it hard to hear any of the birds.  We hiked with her for about 90 minutes before turning back after the prospects of seeing a large number of birds looked grim due to the wind.  Later in the day, Anna called the reporter and told him that 100 meters down the path from the point where we turned around, she ran into over 200 warblers that were on the ground level.  So it goes…

NRRI bird researcher Anna Peterson reacts to strong winds that make it very difficult for her to listen for birds Tuesday morning along the Lake Superior hiking trail near Crow Creek and Castle Danger.  Peterson is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth.

NRRI bird researcher Anna Peterson reacts to strong winds that make it very difficult for her to listen for birds Tuesday morning along the Lake Superior hiking trail near Crow Creek and Castle Danger. Peterson is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth.

NRRI bird researcher Anna Peterson listens to a bird chirping Tuesday morning along the Lake Superior hiking trail near Crow Creek and Castle Danger.  Peterson is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth.

NRRI bird researcher Anna Peterson listens to a bird chirping Tuesday morning along the Lake Superior hiking trail near Crow Creek and Castle Danger. Peterson is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth.

NRRI bird researcher Anna Peterson listens to a bird chirping Tuesday morning along the Lake Superior hiking trail near Crow Creek and Castle Danger.  Peterson is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth.

NRRI bird researcher Anna Peterson listens to a bird chirping Tuesday morning along the Lake Superior hiking trail near Crow Creek and Castle Danger. Peterson is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth.

NRRI bird researcher Anna Peterson listens to a bird chirping Tuesday morning along the Lake Superior hiking trail near Crow Creek and Castle Danger.  Peterson is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth.

NRRI bird researcher Anna Peterson listens to a bird chirping Tuesday morning along the Lake Superior hiking trail near Crow Creek and Castle Danger. Peterson is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth.

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Using a GPS unit, NRRI bird researcher Anna Peterson records data about birds Tuesday morning along the Lake Superior hiking trail near Crow Creek and Castle Danger. Peterson is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth.

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NRRI bird researcher Anna Peterson records data about birds Tuesday morning along the Lake Superior hiking trail near Crow Creek and Castle Danger. Peterson is working with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth.