We've traveled the world and had the pleasure of working with many local birding guides. So we can say with some authority that a trip with Erik Bruhnke is much more than just a birding experience. His attention to every detail, his supreme knowledge of birds, and his gentle spirit combined with boundless enthusiasm for all of nature - make a field trip with Erik an absolute joy! We highly recommend Naturally Avian.
--Kimberly & Kenn Kaufman (Ohio)
--Laura Erickson (Minnesota)
I was not a birder until Erik Bruhnke got a hold of me. Going on a winter birding trip for a single day to the Sax-Zim Bog was one of the most magical things I did in the outdoors during 2011. I learned so much and felt so incredibly inspired! Having Erik as your guide is the bomb. He is charming, BRILLIANT, enthusiastic, entertaining, kind and helpful. I asked a million questions and had them all answered, and learned things I never dreamed of learning. Run; do not walk to Erik's tours - they are, in a word, life changing.
--Sarah Bamford Seidelmann M.D. (Minnesota)
In February of 2012, I had the pleasure and good fortune to hire Birding Guide Erik Bruhnke for my first visit to Minnesota. I was able to see Erik in action the day before our scheduled outing as he was one of a handful of professional guides hired to lead field trips for the Sax-Zim Bog Birding Festival in Meadowlands. His lively narrative of the habitats we visited and the species we saw was very informative and lots of fun.
The next day, my friend and I met Erik for our scheduled private tour. Extremely knowledgeable, Erik is passionate about what he does - he really loves finding the birds for his clients! Due to his familiarity with the Duluth area, we were treated in short order to life-looks at ALL of the resident target species we aimed for, as well as several rare migrants Erik knew about at private locations. In short, the day was remarkable!
I highly recommend scheduling a trip with Erik. He is a great young guy, gracious host, and wonderful guide. After a day out with him, your head will be filled with knowledge, your eyes will be filled magnificent birds, and your heart will be filled with the joy of a new friend.
---Denise Bittle (New Jersey)
In January, 2012, I co-led a group of ten Missouri birders to northern Minnesota. Several of us had birded near Duluth and Two Harbors in winter before (this was my fifth trip); the others others had birded beyond Missouri, but not so far north in winter. We decided a local guide would help us make the most of our time at Sax-Zim Bog, and although we didn’t know him, chose Erik Bruhnke, based on the referral of a Duluth resident we’d birded with before.
The whole group had high praise for our day with him. His knowledge of and passion for the bog and vicinity, and for birds and nature in general were evident in the glow in his eyes as he shared the day with us.
We had good, long looks at target birds and we learned much about the ecology of the area. After the bog birding, we birded around Duluth, including the harbor (Snowy Owl) and the Hartley Nature Center Park.
In addition to his expertise in birding and natural history lore, Erik was especially helpful when one of our group became ill in the evening. His “above and beyond” professional response included transportation to and a stay at a local emergency room well into the night.
Our day with Erik Bruhnke revealed many facets of an enthusiastic, knowledgeable, people-skilled, caring person--in short, about as close to the “ideal guide” one could hope for.
--Edge Wade (Missouri)
It's been almost one week since I spent the day birding with Erik and I am still smiling! Erik is extremely knowledgeable and a pure joy to be around, his passion for birds and photography (my two passions) make him the ideal guide. I can't wait for my next trip with Erik!
--Tammy Holmer (Minnesota)
Erik recently gave a presentation to our bird club on the Sax-Zim Bog of northern Minnesota. I have come to expect good photography from avian talks, but Erik’s photos were
exceptional. Though truly beautiful, Erik’s photos are not artificially enhanced by software. They are natural and just what you would expect to see in the field. Erik both
educates and entertains when he demonstrates the vocalizations of native bog species. But what I found truly different about his presentation is that he gives you clues about the habitat of
rare and much sought after bog specialties. Some birds require a specific habitat and Erik shows you what to look for. Even within that special habitat, he points out certain details
that will let you know if the bird is active in that vicinity. Very helpful indeed! Erik is a warm and friendly guy—a joy to be with during an exciting adventure into the bog.
--Maureen Gross (Wisconsin)
Erik Bruhnke presented a lively and entertaining program on northwoods / Sax-Zim Bog birding to the Ben Goss bird club of Waukesha, WI. His talk appealed to a wide variety of interests and levels as evidenced by the enjoyment of my 6 year old daughter to that of experienced veteran birders. Keys to Erik’s success in presenting are his infectious enthusiasm for the natural world and his spectacular photography. Those combined with an intimate knowledge of northwoods birds and wildlife acquired by many years spent outdoors in nature are sure to please any audience.
I highly recommend Erik as a speaker to your organization.
--Jasonn Weber - VP Ben Goss Bird Club (Waukesha, WI)
Erik took me on my first guided birding trip in June of 2012. He provided me with a knowledgeable, enjoyable and safe birding experience. He is also a talented photographer who is willing to share his knowledge of avian photography. I love his energy and friendly demeanor. I highly recommend Erik to anyone wanting to experience the best of birding and photography combined in one outing.
--Marvil LaCroix (Minnesota)
I met Erik during his first year at Hawk Ridge. He impressed everyone (including myself) with his enthusiasm & desire to educate the casual observers to the avid birders, with the fine points of raptor identification and beyond. Erik’s outgoing personality and knowledge about bird identification could set him among the best tour guides in the country. Erik provides a unique and memorable experience for participants in his field trips. Sign up with Erik today to become a more knowledgeable birder!
--Paul Blanchard, retired mathmatics professor at UW Eau Claire (Wisconsin)
Birding with Erik is a pleasure. He doesn't just know birds he knows habitats. He knows where birds should be based on his knowledge of the species and his first-hand experience in the field. His easy going manner and smile make every birding trip special. Every level of birder can benefit from his expertise.
--Kirk Mona, professional naturalist, blogger of TwinCitiesNaturalist.com (Minnesota)
Erik Bruhnke is a talented guide and naturalist. I have birded in small groups with Erik several times. One of the qualities that Erik possesses which makes him a great guide is his genuine joy in being around birds and nature. Nothing is ordinary with Erik. He shares his love of discovery and his enthusiasm makes field trips fun. Erik is an expert birder and naturalist and he is great at helping birders of all skill levels.
--Lynne Casperson Schoenborn (Minnesota)
While in Minnesota in July/August, 2012 for a vacation, I had the opportunity to go on a guided tour with Naturally Avian through the Sax-Zim bog. Thank you, Erik, for a great time and for all your knowledge on the birds we encountered. You made birding fun, entertaining and educational. When I return to Minnesota, I will certainly call upon Naturally Avian for another outing.
--Karen Smith Bane (Alaska)
You will never find a more enthusiastic, upbeat, energetic and handsome guide than Erik.
--Alan Contreras, co-editor of "Birds of Oregon" (Oregon)
Erik was responsive to our special interests, and provided us with wonderful birding spots. The owls were a special finale. Many thanks to Erik for sharing his talents and special interests with us.
--Janice Gaston (Missouri)
I had grown up in Northern Minnesota, oh so many years ago and this summer I had the privilege of visiting my home state and meeting Erik of Naturally Avian. We enjoyed a wonderful day in Sax-Zim Bog. We were up early, very early, as the early human sees the birds. The bog was breathtaking in the early morning dawn with the fog sitting low to the ground. Erik has the ability to know exactly where the birds are and what species they are even in the fog. In fact, we saw nearly 50 species that day. Just to name a few were the Black-billed Magpie, American Kestrel, Canada Goose, Northern Harrier, Black-billed Cuckoo and many more! Erik is so knowledgeable of all the birds, and we went away having learned so much about the local birds and birding in general. It was such an enjoyable day and all I can say is "Thank you Erik!!"
--Diana Barnett (Florida)
I met Erik at the Festival of Owls and have seen him there for several years. His photographs are wonderful and show that he has a deep love, understanding and appreciation of nature. His enthusiasm is infectious; I am not a gull lover, but through Erik’s many photographs of them, I am able to see they are more than the “flying rats” that I knew from New York’s south shore. Erik is quite talented in other areas too. For the 2011 International Festival of Owls, he baked hand-shaped owl cookies and frosted them with correct color icing! I was impressed. And the cookies were almost too lovely to eat, but I succumbed. And best of all, he is super sociable and a joy to know. I haven’t made it up to Duluth to go birding with him, but it’s on my top 10 list.
--Dot Karlsen (Minnesota)
'Twas the day of Black Friday, when all thro' Duluth,
The shoppers were stirring, the birders were planning;
The Sibley, binoculars and camera were packed with care,
In hopes that the Great Gray Owl soon would be there;
The birders were nestled all poised in their car,
While visions of snow buntings danc'd in their heads,
And Haydee with life list, and Michael holding the pack,
Had just settled their thoughts on spying the owls-
When out on the bog there arose no such clatter,
They sprang from their location to see another matter.
Away to the next stop they flew like a flash,
Rolled open the windows, and threw up the binoculars.
The smell of the pines and fresh falling snow,
Gave Erik the feel of being in a snow globe.
When, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a flock of redpolls, and one hoary poll,
With a scream of delight, so lively and quick,
Erik knew in a moment it made the life list.
More rapid than eagles onto the next stop,
And he whispered, and winked, and called them by name:
"Now! Northern Shrike, now! Rough-legged, now! Raven, and Pine Grosbeak,
Oh! Chickadee oh! Red-breasted Nuthatch, oh! Grouse and Magpie;
Oh! Wood duck. Wood duck …go home I heard him say.
"To the top of the tree! to the top of the feeders!
"Now snap away! snap away! pictures without flash!".
The beauty of the pine grosbeaks brought tears in a flash.
So, Over the river and thru the wood,
To the Sax-Zim Bog we went;
Our guide Erik knew the way
To help us find the gulls and birds,
Thru 5 inches of white and drifted snow,
Over the moss and through the shrubs,
Oh, how the wind did blow
It didn’t stings our toes, but did bite our nose,
As we hiked to find the great gray owl.
So, Over the river and thru the wood,
To the Sax-Zim Bog we will go again in May
With Erik our guide To help us find Warblers,
And hopefully that great gray owl.
Don’t think twice about booking with Naturally Avain.
It was an amazing experience. Day two consisted of gull watching and hiking at Park Point. Never thought I would be outdoors in 4 degree weather watching and learning about Gulls. Erik’s enthusiasm, knowledge, flexibility, and easy going nature made this an awesome experience for the both of us. We loved it so much that we planned a Spring trip immediately.
Highly recommend Naturally Avian.
--Michael and Haydee Zimmerman (Wisconsin)