August 26, 2013

Get Ready for the Fall Migration: Fall Birdwatching Hotspots

Duck

Fall is a great time to see migrating birds in Wisconsin. Millions of birds pass through the state each fall on their trip south to their wintering grounds. By the time winter comes, more than 300 species will have passed through the state.

Canada geese are the most prominent migrant, leaving James Bay in Canada and staying in Wisconsin throughout the fall before making their way down to southern Illinois and beyond. Songbirds pass through Wisconsin in early fall, with warblers leaving long before the leaves begin to change color. Shorebirds arrive in September and spend a few weeks before cold weather pushes them south. Ducks begin to gather on lakes and ponds. Duck species include teal, mallard and widgeon as well as canvasback, bluebill, red-headed duck and bufflehead. Tundra swans make an appearance along the Mississippi River and on some larger lakes and wetlands. And, bald eagles, hawks and owls can be spotted moving southward as the season progresses.

Wisconsin offers a long list of refuges, parks and natural areas for birdwatching. Here are some of the state’s top fall birding destinations.

Pheasant Branch ConservancyMiddleton

This 550-acre nature area surrounded by neighborhoods is a birdwatching gem.

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge – Onalaska

Running for 261 miles along the river, this is the best place in America to see migrating waterfowl.

Dike 17 – Black River Falls

This wetland in the Black River State Forest is a top spot to see a wide range of bird species.

State Natural Areas – Vilas County

Choose from 29 different state natural areas for fall birdwatching.

Northern Highland–American Legion State ForestBoulder Junction

Birdwatchers can explore 230,000 acres of lakes, forests and wetlands.

Godfrey and Maybelle Erickson Audubon Park – Stevens Point

Discover this outstanding birding area located on McDill Pond.

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