September 3, 2010

Wisconsin Is Not A Flyover State This Fall

During the fall bird migration, Wisconsin is where the birds want to be

In the Midwest, fall brings the biggest mass migration of wildlife of the entire year. The shorter days and cool nights signal to animals that it’s time to get ready for the long winter ahead. For the majority of birds all across the northern part of the continent, that means migrating.

Wisconsin is home to some of the most important resting places for migrating birds, particularly waterfowl. Protected wetlands and clean water equals safety and food, two things that migrating birds need most.

If you’ve never witnessed the spring migration through the Badger State, you’re missing one of the most exciting events of the year. Don’t let the migration fly right past you. Here are two outstanding places to see the fall migration.

Pelican in Horicon Marsh, Dodge CountyHoricon Marsh
For birds flying over Wisconsin, the Horicon Marsh in Dodge County must look too good to be true. At 32,000 acres, it is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States and one of the best places for a migrating bird to land, rest up and feed.

Through the entire fall, and even into early winter, Canada geese fly from the marsh to surrounding cornfields and back from sunrise to sunset. At times, the swirling flocks of geese seem to fill the entire sky.

There are many ways to see the fall migration at Horicon Marsh. Boat tours are offered in Horicon. An auto tour runs around the marsh, providing a great opportunity to see flocks of geese heading to the fields or returning to the marsh. A number of observation decks are scattered throughout the marsh, giving birdwatchers a chance to get a good glimpse of the many species of ducks and shorebirds that stop here to rest and feed.

To learn more about the marsh and other fall activities in Dodge County, visit

Geese in Onalaska, WILake Onalaska
The Mississippi River is a superhighway for migrating birds. The pools and wetlands of the Mississippi River that run along Wisconsin’s western border are some of the most important migratory stopover points in North America.

More than 40% of the continent’s waterfowl travel through the Mississippi River Corridor. The pools of the Upper Mississippi are magnets for birds looking for a place to rest. One of the largest of these huge pools, Lake Onalaska, is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of huge flocks of ducks, geese, swans and other birds winging it toward warmer environs.

The Great River State Trail, which runs for 24 miles from Onalaska to Trempealeau to the north, offers a number of vantage points for viewing migrating birds. The Sunny the Sunfish scenic overlook just north of Onalaska provides views of much of this 7,700 acre pool. For a truly up-close view of the birds, a canoe or kayak is the best way to explore the expansive backwaters.

Learn more about exploring the Onalaska area at

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