The North Lakeland Discovery Center invites you to experience the best of birding in Wisconsin’s Northwoods during peak spring migration. Warbler walks, field trips, workshops and programs. Great for anyone interested in learning more about our feathered friends. Contact: Discovery Center, (715) 543-2085 or discoverycenter.net
The arrival of spring means the return of millions of waterfowl to the lakes and wetlands of Wisconsin. Some birds, such as mallards, redheaded ducks, wood ducks and some Canada geese, stay in the state to nest and raise their families. Most waterfowl, however, are just stopping here to rest before heading to their breeding grounds further north.
In the spring, a Wisconsin birdwatcher has a chance to see a variety of birds they won’t see again until fall, when birds head back south to their wintering grounds.
Don’t miss the spring migration! Here are four great spots to see ducks, geese and other water-loving birds this spring.
Lake Onalaska — Onalaska
This 7,700-acre lake is actually a pool of the Mississippi River. It is located along the Mississippi River Flyway and attracts hundreds of bird species each year, including everything from bald eagles and white pelicans to ducks, geese and mergansers. Even tundra swans can be seen in the early spring.
Lake Winnebago — Oshkosh
At 138,000 acres, Lake Winnebago is probably the best inland lake in the state for observing migrating waterfowl. Canvasbacks, bluebills, mallards and Canada geese all spend time here as they make their way north from their wintering grounds. Menominee Park on Oshkosh’s east side is a good place to see waterfowl on the big lake. You’ll also find boat launches throughout Oshkosh. Bring your binoculars!
At 33,000 acres, the George W. Mead Wildlife Area provides a lot of habitat for birds. Spring brings water to the wildlife area’s wetlands and flowages, attracting ducks, geese and many types of shorebirds and wading birds. Sandhill cranes are abundant. In total, 267 species of birds can be observed here.
Black River Country
Located in the Black River State Forest, this complex of wetlands provides a number of opportunities for seeing migrating waterfowl. Mallards, teal, wood ducks and shorebirds can be seen feeding in the ponds and sloughs. Several observation areas make birdwatching easy. It’s a great place to spend a few hours with your binoculars.
Even as the last snow clings to Wisconsin’s fields, forests and hills, birds across the continent are preparing to make their migration back to the Badger State. For birdwatchers, spring is an exciting time of the year. Here’s a preview of what to expect.
With snow still on the ground, large numbers of Canada geese begin to make their way to southern Wisconsin’s fields and waterways. On areas of open water, you’ll see flocks of coots and small groups of ducks. Backwater sloughs and small rivers attract many types of waterfowl.
By March, red-winged blackbirds and grackles can be seen in increasing numbers in southern Wisconsin, followed by sparrows and robins by the middle of March. The same sequence happens in northern Wisconsin two to three weeks later.
In April, bald eagles, osprey, falcons and other raptors can be seen passing through the state. Sandhill cranes will be heard trumpeting all across the land. In the southern part of the state, the calls of songbirds will be heard by mid-April. Songbirds arrive in the Northwoods by early- to mid-May.
These waves of songbirds include many species of warblers, which have traveled thousands of miles from Mexico, Central America and South America. April and May are prime time for seeing these neotropical beauties.
By mid-May, birders across Wisconsin are presented with a cornucopia of bird species. Birdwatchers can see everything from brilliantly colored orioles to common loons.
During the spring migration, every single day brings new birds. Grab your binoculars and head out into the field. The spring migration only happens once a year. Don’t miss it!
Some good spring birding spots:
- Mississippi River at Onalaska
- Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton
- Black River Country
- George W. Mead Wildlife Area near Stevens Point
It’s time to hit the trail and enjoy the beauty of fall
Fall has many faces. During the first days of fall, when leaves have just a hint of color, we are gently reminded that the end of the summer is near. When the leaves burst into full color, there is a joy you can feel right down to your toes. And, after the leaves are gone, there is a tranquility that permeates the forests and the fields.
This fall, take a walk and experience fall’s many moods. Here are six fall walks you don’t want to miss.
West Bend is home to the West Bend Riverwalk, one of the state’s most relaxing strolls. The Riverwalk follows the Milwaukee River for three miles. Along a portion of this paved trail, you’ll find the West Bend Sculpture Walk, which is made up of more than two dozen works of modern sculpture. It’s one of the most interesting walks in Wisconsin.
Pheasant Branch Conservancy’s nature trails in Middleton are one of the best opportunities to see wildlife this fall. The trails wind through 550 acres of forests, fields and wetlands. Bring your binoculars – the birdwatching is outstanding in this urban oasis.
For fall color viewing, you can’t beat the Schmeekle Reserve’s nature trail in the Stevens Point Area. The 280-acre reserve offers five miles of trails and boardwalks. The trails connect to the 30.5-mile Green Circle Trail, which allows hikers and bicyclists to circle the Stevens Point Area.
Minutes from Boulder Junction, you’ll find the Fallison Lake Trail, a winding pathway through a beautiful piece of the Northwoods. The trail features interpretive signs to give you insight into the area’s plants and animals. It’s an interesting place for a fall walk.
The Presque Isle Nature Trail in Vilas County is another marked nature trail. You’ll see everything from old-growth forest to forests in their early stages of growth. If you’re feeling adventurous, the trail links to many more miles of trails.
In the Rhinelander Area, one of the best places to hike this fall is the Holmboe Nature Preserve. This one-mile trail runs along the Pelican River and offers some wonderful forest views. It’s a great little trail and one you shouldn’t miss.