Wisconsin Nature

Birding Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a historically-rich and ecologically robust state, hosting amazing birding opportunities year-round. Pristine lakes and rivers can be found through oak savannahs, wetlands and mixed prairies in the southern tier of the state with northern hardwoods and expansive coniferous woods throughout the northern portion of the state. Having two of its borders resting upon Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, Wisconsin is an incredible place to experience inland birds as well as an impressive array of waterfowl and shorebirds. The four seasons are one of Wisconsin’s highlights, with ever-changing colors and views topping off such diverse birding experiences. Due to the location of Wisconsin this beautiful state receives far-northern breeding birds at the southern edge of their range (like Boreal Chickadee) as well as more southerly birds at the northern limits of their range (Cerulean Warbler and Henslow’s Sparrow). Scarlet Tanagers can be found breeding throughout the entire state when in appropriate habitat. Parasitic Jaegers and a wide array of gulls can be found along the state’s waterways annually.

Winters are cold and snowy, with Redpoll and Crossbill irruptions taking place in the northern tier of the state (Northwoods) every few winters. Snowy Owls can be found in the state every winter, with some winters catering to more of them than others! Wisconsin is a major flyway for boreal-breeding birds,, and the northern hardwoods cater to impressive numbers of breeding Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Ruffed Grouse, Least Flycatchers, and Blackburnian Warblers. Speckled throughout the northern tier of the state are tamarack bogs and spruce forests where Black-backed Woodpecker and Spruce Grouse are uncommon year-round residents.

In the summer listen and watch for breeding Common Loons throughout the state’s northern lakes. Massive movements of waterfowl pass through every spring and fall as ducks migrate into Wisconsin. In the central part of the state the habitat specialized Greater Prairie Chicken can be found booming on select lekking grounds in March and April. Northern Harriers patrol these fields year-round, and the fields can be shared with impressive amounts of Rough-legged Hawks once the winter chill is upon the state. Contributor: Erik Bruhnke, VENT 


What to See in Wisconsin

Notable Mammals and Other Wildlife

  • Coyote
  • Pine Marten
  • Wisconsin Badger
  • Brown Bat
  • Raccoon

Other Attractions

Where and When to Go

Nature & Birding Hotspots in Wisconsin

  • Harrington Beach Hawkwatch
  • Lakeshore State Park
  • South Shore Yacht Club
  • Necedah National Wildlife Refuge
  • Buena Visa Marsh
  • International Crane Foundation
  • Wisconsin Point
  • Horicon Marsh
  • Prentice Park and Long Bridge (Ashland)
  • Prairie du Sac
  • Manitowoc Lakefront
  • Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area
  • Devil’s Lake State Park
  • Wyalusing State Park


Wisconsin Birding and Nature Tours

Wisconsin Great River Road- A 'do it yourself' tour! Along this scenic river and adjacent wetlands countless opportunities at viewing migrating, native and nesting bird species are provided. While traveling this road birders and nature tourists become connected to various wildlife refugees, learning centers , and state parks.

Wisconsin Ecolodges/Accommodations

Best Time to Go

Visit Wisconsin

Contributor: Erik Bruhnke: Naturally Avian Birding Tours and VENT birding.


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