Sax-Zim Bog

The Sax-Zim Bog is a world renowned birding location in the winter, as well as the spring and summer. In the winter months, the Sax-Zim Bog is an important wintering area for many Arctic Breeding species, such as Pine Grosbeaks, Common and Hoary Redpolls, Northern Shrike, Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Hawk Owls, and occasionally Boreal Owl and American Three-toed Woodpecker. Most of these avian visitors will leave by the middle of March for their breeding grounds in Northern Canada. Many of the 2500+ human visitors during the winter come to see birds best found with snow on the ground, but can be found in the summer months as well. Birds like Great Gray Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Evening Grosbeak, and Sharp-tailed Grouse call the meadows, forests, and bogs home all year long.

Though the bulk of visitors to the Sax-Zim Bog come in the winter, the spring and summer are fine times to visit, as long as you remember your bug spray! 19 species of warbler nest in the Sax-Zim Bog, including boreal forest and bog specialists like Connecticut Warbler, Pine Warbler, and Palm Warbler. The Sax-Zim Bog also hosts a robust population of Golden-winged Warblers, which along with Connecticut Warbler, are in need of conservation attention as they have experienced significant population declines in recent time. The Sax-Zim Bog also hold bog specialist species like Lincoln’s Sparrow and Gray Jay, prairie specialists like Bobolink, LeConte’s Sparrow, and Sedge Wren.The bird diversity abounds in any season!

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Gray owl in tree

When to Visit

The best time to visit depends on what you are interested in, as there are very distinct seasons and species to find. For the winter specialties, such as Common Redpoll, Pine Grosbeak, Northern Shrike, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Hawk Owl, or crossbills, mid-December through late February or early March would be best. Migrant warblers move through the bog in the second half of May. Breeding birds are in full song during June and even the first week in July. The breeding species of interest including Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Great

Gray Owl, Gray Jay, and Sharp-tailed Grouse, can be found all year round, but easiest to find in the winter. However, with enough time spent, you could find all of these species in the summer as well.

To get more information, or to keep track of the latest sightings, click the button below to get to the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog Website.

Bog Biodiversity

Clinton Nienhaus is a naturalist at Sax-Zim Bog. He shares information about the bog and its inhabitants, as well as activities taking place there throughout the year. Here is what he has to say. 

Biodiversity really translates well as a mark on the health of an ecosystem. The more species you can find, the higher quality an ecosystem. The healthier the ecosystem, the better off the animals and visitors are able to enjoy what can be found on a short stroll in the woods.

The Sax-Zim Bog may be a haven for boreal bird species. There is much more than the diversity of resident bird species or winter visitors. Birds make up a small portion of the over 1,275 species that have been documented (so far!) in the Sax-Zim Bog. This huge diversity can be observed by traversing the 423 acres of land owned by the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog, by investigating the roadsides that meander through the Bog, or in the rivers, streams, and lakes in the Sax-Zim Bog Important Bird Area.

Insects make up over a third of the species observed. This is not very surprising, as insects tend to make up most of the diversity in any given location. 415 species of insect have been found in the Sax-Zim Bog. Some insects of interest include 76 species of dragonfly and damselfly, 64 species of butterfly, and over 100 species of moth documented so far.

Plants account for over 400 species of the 1,275 documented so far. This includes 93 species of sedge and grass, 14 species of orchid, pitcher plants, round-leaved sundew, and 46 species of tree make the Sax-Zim Bog a place worth a visit by casual wildflower watchers to botanists. Each of these plants play a big role in the diversity of birds that can be found in the Sax-Zim Bog.

Bird and Wildlife watching are among the fastest growing outdoor recreation activities in the United States and the diversity in the Sax-Zim Bog attracts bird watchers, butterfly watchers, wildflower lovers, and even dragonfly and damselfly enthusiasts.

gallery of tiny wildlife

Northern hawk owl

History and Land Use

The Sax-Zim Bog is roughly 147,000 acres of not only bog, but aspen uplands, rivers, lakes, meadows, farms and even a couple towns! It was named for the historic towns of Sax and Zim, which no longer exist, though if you talk with the locals you can still find folks who do remember the old towns or who may have even grown up in them.

The Sax-Zim Bog is not just a mix of habitats, but a mix of land use. A good chunk of the 147,000 acres is public, including properties owned by the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog, the Zim, Sax, and Fermoy Wildlife Management Areas, and a fair portion of the Whiteface River State Forest. The Sax-Zim Bog is not owned by any one entity; rather, it is a mosaic of public and private lands sprawling across the landscape. The Friends of Sax-Zim Bog have the distinction of being a non-profit organization which does much to educate about and preserve the Sax-Zim Bog IBA and even have a Welcome Center, which is open to visitors during the winter season. The Friends of Sax-Zim Bog offer field trips and programs year round.