5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Wisconsin

By Rachel Smith

5 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Wisconsin

Birdwatching is among the most exciting and fascinating activities to partake in. And in Wisconsin, there’s no telling what kinds of amazing birds you’re going to encounter. Maybe you’ll spot a snowy owl. Maybe you’ll be graced with a majestic hawk soaring overheard. Grab your binoculars and enjoy these five magical birdwatching hikes in Wisconsin. 

1. Horicon National Wildlife Refuge

If you’re looking for a birding experience like no other, head to the Horicon Marsh. You’ll be welcomed by the United States’ largest freshwater cattail marsh. Over 300 different bird species are attracted to this area. Typically spotted in the marsh are the Black-crown night heron, purple martin and osprey. Some rare species to keep your eyes peeled for are the horned and eared grebe, red shouldered hawk, and the vesper sparrow.

2. Whitefish Dunes State Park, Sturgeon Bay, WI

Located on the eastern shores of the Door Peninsula, Whitefish Dunes State Park provides an 865-acre area right on Lake Michigan. The park offers a diverse habitat that’s perfect for birding. You’ll find tons of different waterfowl, blue-gray gnatcatchers, and rough-winged swallows. On a good day, you might even spot a snowy owl, Bonaparte’s gull, or a Caspian tern. Choose how exotic your hike for birding will be at the Whitefish Dunes State Park.

3. Bark Bay Slough State Natural Area

Bark Lay Slough is nestled between Lake Superior and the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Head toward the shoreline for some of the best birdwatching in the state. Keep an eye out for our country’s signature bird—the majestic Bald eagle. Other species to keep on your radar are the northern harrier, American bittern, and yellow rail. Soak up the spectacular views and don’t forget your camera for this one!

4. Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, Green Bay, WI

Take a brisk hike across the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, which has been noted as one of the best places to birdwatch in the state. The sanctuary essentially provides the perfect habitat for our winged wildlife. Their forest, fields, marsh, nature trails, and ponds attract birds during every season. Over 250 species have been spotted in the sanctuary including black duck and white-eyed vireo. on a good day, you might even spot a summer tanager and Ross’s goose.

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5. Retzer Nature Center, Waukesha, WI

The Retzer Nature Center is another perfect area for attracting and watching birds. Forest, streams, ponds, restored prairies, pine plantations, and grassland allow for an ideal birding experience. The Adventure Trail is a five-mile hiking trail offering 30 interactive stops that educate on Wisconsin’s wildlife. Want more of an organized birding experience? Join their weekly bird hike on Fridays during the spring. You’ll see upland sandpiper, bobolink, northern harrier, and Henslow’s sparrows. Stay around long enough and you might spot a mockingbird, yellow-breasted chat, or yellow-throated vireo.

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