Tagged in ducks

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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April 2, 2013

Welcome Home Waterfowl!

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.

Tundra Swans

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.

Chicks

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!

Geese by Bob Mosier

George W. Mead Wildlife AreaStevens Point Area

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.

Mama with Geese

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.

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March 11, 2013

Planning Your Spring Birdwatching: Season Preview

Egret Souring in Middleton

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:

 

 

 

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