State of Wisconsin

American Robin Turdus migratorius ©Alan & Elaine Wilson - Creative Commons Website
Birding Wisconsin

While Wisconsin lacks the scenic grandeur of the west and the notoriety of the east, it does contain variety and surprises that few states can match. It’s a place where boreal forests of the north meet hardwood forests of the east and the grasslands of the west. Rough dimensions of the state are 300 miles north & south by 150 miles east & west. The northern third of the state contains thousands of lakes surrounded by forests of White Pine, Hemlock, Maple, and Yellow Birch. These lakes provide nesting areas for Bald Eagle, Osprey, and Common Loon. The western boundary is the Mississippi River and its associated wetlands and bottomland forests. The eastern boundary is Lake Michigan with its sandy shores. The latter two serve as major flyways for numerous migratory birds… ducks, swans, raptors, and passerines.

While more than 400 species have been observed in Wisconsin, a more realistic number to shoot for in a given year would be 300. This of course would require lots of driving to find rarities.

Warblers are high on the most-desired list for birders in Wisconsin; with over 30 species occurring and over 20 species nesting in the state. Warblers such as Kentucky, Cerulean, Prothonotary, and Yellow-throated can be observed in the southern part of the state, especially along the Mississippi River in places like Wyalusing State Park. While the north woods are home to Blackburnian, Cape May, Northern Parula, Nashville, Canada, and Magnolia. The peak time for warbler watching is the first two to three weeks in May.

Other highlights include…

Wintering Bald Eagles along the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers. Where dams keep the water open, eagles can easily be observed. Sauk Prairie along the Wisconsin River and Cassville along the Mississippi are consistently good during the winter.

Waterfowl migrations along the Mississippi River. Each Spring and Fall, thousands of geese and ducks pass through. Most impressive are the thousands of Tundra Swans that congregate along the Mississippi in October and November. Good spots to observe the Swans are Rieck’s Lake in Alma and Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge north of La Crosse.

Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the country. Hundreds of thousands of geese and ducks pass through here each spring and fall. In addition, several species of ducks along with herons, egrets, bitterns, and rails nest here.

Recommended guidebook is Wisconsin’s Favorite Bird Haunts published by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. Revised in 2009, it contains detailed descriptions with maps of birding hotspots in every county of the state.

  • Jim Marrari

    East Troy, WI |

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 438

    (As at October 2018)

    State Bird - American Robin Turdus migratorius


  • iGoTerra Checklist

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    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • Birding Trails: Wisconsin

    | By Steve Betchkal | Sandhill Crane Press | 2017 | Paperback | 400 pages, colour photos, colour maps | ISBN: 9781940239002 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Minnesota and Wisconsin

    | By Bob Janssen, Daryl Tessen & Gregory Kennedy | Lone Pine Publishing | 2003 | Paperback | 376 pages, illustrations, map | ISBN: 9781551053240 Buy this book from
  • Birds of Wisconsin

    | By Owen J Gromme | University of Wisconsin Press | 1998 | Hardback | Milwaukee Public Museum Hardcover | 236 pages, 107 colour plates | ISBN: 9780299158606 Buy this book from
  • Wisconsin Birds

    | (A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species) | By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2000 | Unbound | 12 pages, colour illustrations, 1 colour map | ISBN: 9781583551707 Buy this book from
  • Wisconsin Birds : A Seasonal and Geographical Guide

    | By Stanley A Temple, John R Cary & Robert E Rolley, | University of Wisconsin Press | 1997 | Edition 2 | Paperback | 320 pages, Figures, maps | ISBN: 9780299152246 Buy this book from
Festivals & Bird Fairs
  • Horicon Marsh Bird Festival

    Horicon Marsh Bird Club invites birders of all skill levels – as well as anyone who enjoys the great outdoors – to the 22nd annual Horicon Marsh Bird Festival (May 2019). This weekend-long event provides family-friendly activities and educational experiences designed to showcase Horicon Marsh’s role as an important habitat for birds and wildlife.
  • Aldo Leopold Audubon Society

    Welcome to the webpages for the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society serving Central Wisconsin. It has been my pleasure to provide leadership and work with an outstanding group of people on the Board of Directors of ALAS as we strove to implement the ALAS vision and represent nearly 550 members of our chapter…
  • Audubon Society in Wisconsin

    Offices & Chapters
  • Chappee Rapids Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    The Chappee Rapids Audubon Society is a Michigan - Wisconsin organization whose purpose is to conserve, appreciate, and protect wildlife and the environment.
  • Chequamegon Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    The Chequamegon Audubon Chapter is a regional resource dedicated to providing an open forum for discussion and action on issues related to the environment, educating members and the public about the natural world and the threats those natural systems are facing, and supporting efforts to identify and preserve unique areas.
  • Chequamegon Bird Club

    The Chequamegon Bird Club is a group of people interested in learning about birds and sharing their experiences watching birds. Some members are very knowledgeable, having been birdwatching for many years, and others are just beginners. We learn from each other and from guest speakers and programs at our meetings.
  • Coulee River Audubon Society

    Serving the communities of La Crosse, Vernon, and Monroe Counties in Wisconsin and Houston and Winona Counties in Minnesota.
  • Fond du Lac County Audubon Society

    We encourage all who have an interest in nature and the quality of our environment to become members of the National Audubon Society, and of our local chapter, the Fond du Lac County Audubon Society. Part of your dues comes back to the local chapter and part pays for your subscription to Audubon magazine, published bimonthly
  • Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    66 Meadowlark Drive Hudson, WI 54016 - 715-271-1663 - Also see the Facebook Page.
  • Green Rock Audubon Society

    Green-Rock Audubon Society, Inc. was incorporated in 1991 as a Section 501 C (3) non-profit corporation and is a local chapter of the National Audubon Society. Between 2000 and 2004 we acquired a conservation easement and 250 acres of land so we are a land trust. In 2007 we began aggressively restoring our property.
  • Horicon Marsh Bird Club

    From backyard bird watchers to field ornithologists and researchers, Bird Club activities are available for novice and expert birders alike. We encourage families and youth to join us in observing and studying Wisconsin birds.
  • Hoy Audubon Society

    Hoy Audubon Society serves eastern Kenosha and Racine Counties, Wisconsin. The name commemorates Dr Philo Romayne Hoy after whom Hoy's Screech Owl was named.
  • Lakeland Audubon Society

    Lakeland Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society that functions as an independent non-profit organization. Our mission is to support the Audubon Society’s programs while also providing local educational opportunities. We strive to accomplish this mission by donating Audubon Adventure kits to local elementary schools and by having speakers at our monthly meetings that cover a variety of nature related subjects. Our chapter is based out of Elkhorn Wisconsin, serving residents of Walworth County and the surrounding areas.
  • LoonWatch

    LoonWatch is a program of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College in Ashland, WI. It was founded in 1978 to monitor the population, reproductive success, and habitat use of the common loon in northern Wisconsin. The other goal of LoonWatch is to raise public awareness and appreciation of the common loon through outreach and educational programs. All of the monitoring observations come from volunteers, called Loon Rangers, living across Wisconsin. Our contact information is: LoonWatch, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, Northland College, Ashland, WI 54806
  • Madison Audubon Society

    Together with our members, we celebrate, enjoy, and protect Wisconsin's birds and natural heritage. We're a coalition of passionate individuals: bird watchers, wildlife enthusiasts, naturalists, and educators... ...and together, we protect vital wildlife habitat and share the joy of Wisconsin's natural world with thousands of people.
  • Milwaukee Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    The mission of the Milwaukee Audubon Society, Inc. (MAS) is to protect and restore Wisconsin’s natural heritage and ecology through active leadership, education, advocacy and stewardship.
  • Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin

    Another newly designed NC site in its early development - Welcome to the Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy home page! Here you'll find information on the many ways we're working with the people of our state to help preserve the diversity of living things by protecting the habitats in which they live…
  • Northeastern Wisconsin Audubon Society

    We are one of over 500 local chapters of the National Audubon Society, including 14 chapters in Wisconsin. We have over 800 member families that live in seven counties and 55 communities throughout northeast Wisconsin. National Audubon assigns members to chapters based on their zip code. National members may always request to be assigned to a specific chapter which may differ from their zip code assignment. In addition to members assigned by National Audubon, we have members who belong to our local chapter only, from a desire to support conservation, education, and bird habitat protection in this region.
  • Oshkosh Bird Club

    The Oshkosh Bird Club was founded on May 4, 1970 in order to stimulate interest in and promote the preservation of birds. Club members are actively involved each year in field trips, bird counts, and local bird projects. The Oshkosh Bird Club meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Rowland Room on the lower level of Evergreen Manor Retirement Community, 1130 N. Westfield St., Oshkosh, Wisconsin
  • Sheboygan County Audubon Society

    Interested in birds and the natural world? Come to a meeting, visit our hawk watch, or take a walk with us! We will introduce you to the world around you! Also see our Facebook page.
  • Winnebago Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    We serve Winnebago County and the Fox Valley region of Wisconsin.. The Winnebago Audubon Society's mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the Earth's biological diversity…
  • Wisconsin Metro Audubon Society

    Facebook Page
    Join the Wisconsin Metro Audubon Society, a chapter of the National Audubon Society, serving the southern and western areas of Milwaukee and surrounding communities. Reap the benefits of being a member
  • Wisconsin Society for Ornithology

    The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology is a volunteer, nonprofit organization that was established in 1939. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment, study and conservation of Wisconsin’s birds. We provide opportunities for all people to enjoy resident and migratory birds, while being a leading steward of and ambassador for Wisconsin birds. WSO sponsors birding field trips throughout the year, hosts an annual birding convention, publishes a quarterly journal and monthly newsletter, offers research grants, and serves as an informational resource center on bird-related issues. Membership exceeds 1,400 from across the United States and around the world.

Abbreviations Key

  • NC Hixon Forest Nature Center

    Facebook PageSatellite View
    Hixon Forest Nature Centre welcomes you to our world of birding, environmental education, hiking, prairie restoration and other wonderful events. The Nature Centre is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness, understanding, enjoyment, and protection of local natural areas. These natural areas include forest, marsh, rare native prairies, bluffs, and rivers - all habitats of incredible numbers of wildlife.
  • NC Hunt Hill Nature Centre & Audubon Sanctuary

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Hunt Hill was donated to the National Audubon society in 1955 by Frances Hunt Andrews. Her dream was to see the property used as an environmental education centre where people could have the opportunity to enjoy and learn about nature in the same way that she did.
  • NC Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (SANC) is a 185-acre stretch of untouched land along the shore of Lake Michigan. Escape from the world of concrete to hike six miles of trails, walk along the beach, and enjoy the spectacular view from their 60-foot observation tower…
  • NC Wehr Nature Center

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Rustling leaves, shimmering seas of grass, a cool rush of water over rock, birds and waterfowl calling, a rainbow of wildflowers, a scamper of animal feet… all of these natural treasures and many more await you at the Wehr Nature Center…
  • NC Woodland Dunes Nature Center

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Woodland Dunes is an oasis of marshland, swamps, sandy fields and meadows and wooded ridges between Manitowoc and Two Rivers, Wisconsin.
  • NF Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

    InformationSatellite View
    It is located within the Nicolet unit of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and is administered by the US Forest Service. The area protects four large, crystal-clear springs at the headwaters of Blackjack Creek, part of the Eagle River and Wisconsin River drainage.
  • NWR Fox River

    InformationSatellite View
    Fox River National Wildlife Refuge is managed by staff at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, it encompasses 1,054 acres (4.27 km2) of wetland and upland habitat along the Fox River
  • NWR Gravel Island

    InformationSatellite View
    Founded in 1913, the refuge consists of two Lake Michigan islands that act as nesting grounds for native bird species. The refuge is part of the Wisconsin Islands Wilderness Area, and as such it is off-limits to the public to preserve the habitat of the islands. It is inhabited by large colonies of shore birds and waterfowl in addition to hosting a pair of great black-backed gulls, one of farthest westward breeding sites of the species.
  • NWR Green Bay

    InformationSatellite View
    Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge of the United States located in the state of Wisconsin. It includes three islands in Lake Michigan: Hog Island, Plum Island, and Pilot Island. The islands are near Washington Island off the tip of the Door Peninsula of Wisconsin.
  • NWR Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Over 32,000 acres in size, Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States. The marsh provides habitat for endangered species and is a critical rest stop for thousands of migrating ducks and Canada geese. It has been recognized as a Wetland of International Importance, a Globally Important Bird Area, and a unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve.
  • NWR Necedah

    InformationSatellite View
    Necedah National Wildlife Refuge is located within the 7,800-square-mile (20,000 km2) Great Central Wisconsin Swamp, the largest wetland bog in the state. It includes extensive forest habitat (pine, oak, aspen) and large tracts of rare oak barrens habitat.
  • WS Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary

    InformationSatellite View
    The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary is a 600-acre municipal urban wildlife refuge. It is the largest park in the Green Bay, Wisconsin Park system and home to the second largest wildlife rehabilitation program in Wisconsin. Facilities include a nature education center, observation building, hiking trails, woodland building and numerous animal habitats.
  • Wisconsin State Parks

    WebsiteSatellite View
    This section of the DNR Website will give you information about many of our larger state properties that are excellent places to hunt, hike or watch wildlife. Wisconsin can take pride in its vast treasure of natural resources, particularly its wildlife. Public lands managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provide many opportunities and public spaces for you and your family to hunt, fish, hike, canoe, watch or photograph wildlife. Escape from your daily routine amidst the forests, prairies and wetland meadows and enjoy the natural beauty of Wisconsin.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • ABA's Birding News - Wisconsin

    Bird news
    Part of ABA
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Horicon Marsh Boat Tours

    Facebook Page
    Come journey with us to the very heart of the marsh on our two hour narrated Birding Adventure. Both casual birdwatchers and experienced birders will enjoy seeking out the over 305 species of birds Horicon Marsh has to offer. Bring your bird book, binoculars and let’s go birding!
Trip Reports

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • 2021 [07 July] - Nick Bray

    Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho & Utah!
Places to Stay

Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • Courthouse Square B&B

    Guests frequently comment about the peace, quiet and natural beauty of the setting of this B&B. Fragrant flower and herb gardens, the multitude of birds and mischievous squirrels, can be enjoyed at the many benches placed throughout the gardens and on the shore of the small pastoral lake.
Other Links
  • CD - Bird Song Ear Training Guide - Who Cooks for Poor Sam Peabody?

    This Audio CD is designed for anyone who wants to improve their ability to recognize bird songs. It features the sounds of 189 different bird species found in the Midwest and Northeast States. Each bird song recording is followed by a short description of the sound along with a common mnemonic used to remember it. Many well-known song mnemonics such as Who cooks for you? for the Barred Owl and Poor Sam Peabody for the White-throated Sparrow are included. Following the song and mnemonic, the source of the sound is revealed. By naming the bird at the end of each track, the listener is allowed to wonder and guess at the nature of the sound. Active listening, similar to what one experiences in the field while searching for an unknown bird song, is a key to engaging the memory process
  • Great Wisconsin Birding Trail

    Welcome to Wisconsin Birding, the premier birding site for Wisconsin. Within you`ll find everything you need for your birding fun. Check out the forums for birding hot spots, bird sightings, birding buddies, and more.
  • Nicolet National Forest Bird Survey

    The Bird Survey takes place each year during the second weekend in June. Everyone with an interest in birds and a desire for adventure is invited to participate in the Bird Survey. Volunteers work in small groups led by at least one expert in bird song identification. Computerized results are used to guide forest management policies and have been the subject of numerous scientific research articles and master`s theses. Results also provide visitors with information about habitat preferences and hot-spots for northern Wisconsin`s bird species.
  • On The Feeder

    Website is dedicated to sharing the hobby of backyard birding with anyone who desires to bring nature up close. After all, our tagline is Backyard Birds Bring Nature Up Close.
  • Turtle Flambeau Flowage

    Whatever the time of year, the wilderness of the Flowage provides a breathtaking backdrop for some of the most captivating wildlife you could ever hope to see. Springtime brings the new young of the year out to cavort among the delicate green of budding birches. Fox kits tumble and play, otters slide gleefully down the river banks and spotted whitetail fawns wobble on spindly, under legs. Summer provides long, glorious days of bright yellow sunshine that glitters off the dancing waves while bluebirds soar over head, butterflies flutter about, and curious black bears poke about.
  • Wisconsin Birds

    Website is part of the network of Web sites. You can visit the Birdzilla Web site or one of our other networked sites for even more wild bird information
  • Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas

    The Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas (WBBA); an on-going project administered by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, began in the spring of 1995 and data collection will continue for at least five years.
  • Bird It Up

    Last update August 2016 - A Wisconsin birding blog by an obsessive individual - Considering this blog is focused on birding I think I should start here. If you would have asked me 10 years ago – at say, the age of 30 – if I’d be an obsessed birder, I would have called you frickin’ nuts. Granted it was 10 years ago, 2004, that I first got this feathered obsession. I was camping at Three Johns in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Eagle River and we had a pair of loons nesting on the lake. For a week I was pretty taken with following their movements, listening to their calls, and seeing them swim (yes, I have a shot of one underwater near our canoe), take off, and land…
  • Joseph Devereaux - Birdstud's Birdchat

    Last update october 2017 - I'm a simple guy with very definite opinions about lots of stuff. I cling to the old-fashioned ideas of personal responsibility and hard work. I love capitalism and can celebrate anyone's successes. Having said that; I love watching birds and enjoying nature, however I don't hug trees and curse hunters. I believe in the great circle of life and survival of the fittest. I want to be a blessing while on this earth...that can mean all kinds of things.
  • Laura Erikson's For The Birds

    LAURA ERICKSON, 2014 recipient of the American Birding Association’s prestigious Roger Tory Peterson Award, has been a scientist, teacher, writer, wildlife rehabilitator, professional blogger, public speaker, photographer, American Robin and Whooping Crane Expert for the popular Journey North educational website, and Science Editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She’s written eleven books about bird
  • Mike McDowell - The Digiscoper

    Wisconsin Birding and Digiscoping…
Photographers & Artists
  • Artist - Martin R Murk

    A native of Wisconsin, Martin R. Murk's wildlife art has earned him many awards, including the 1982 Wisconsin Wetland's for Wildlife Artist of the Year, 1984 Wisconsin Ducks Unlimited Artist of the Year, 1986 Wisconsin Waterfowler's Artist of the Year - as well as the 1987 Great Lakes Wildlife Artist of the Year. Winner of the 1977 Federal Duck Stamp Competition, the 1979 Wisconsin Trout Stamp and the 1980 Wisconsin Duck Stamp contests, Marty also designed Wisconsin's first Great Lakes Salmon and Trout stamp and the first North American Endangered Species Conservation stamps in 1982.

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