Grab your binoculars! Where to go birdwatching in Wisconsin

Source: Wisconsin Bed & Breakfast Association

By Christina Lorey

April 2, 2024

Bird migration peaks in mid-May, as tens of millions of birds fly into or over Wisconsin. 

DID YOU KNOW? According to eBird records dating back to 1900, 454 different bird species have been documented in Wisconsin, which puts our state in the middle of the pack nationally.

A few more fun facts…

The American Robin is Wisconsin’s official state bird. While it wasn’t made official until 1947, school kids picked the state bird back in 1926, when the governor at the time decided to let public school students decide–and they went with the ones they grew up reading about in books. The American Robin is also the state bird of Connecticut and Michigan. Click here to learn more.

House finches are the most commonly observed birds in Wisconsin. Northern Cardinals and Sandhill Cranes are also popular, especially in Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay. Downy Woodpeckers and even Great Blue Heron are also common.

Red-shouldered Hawks are one of Wisconsin’s rarest breeds. You can spot them, as their name suggests, by the red hue on their shoulders, which really stands out against its mostly brown and white body. The extraordinarily long legged Whooping Cranes, the tallest birds in North America, are another extremely rare and endangered species.

Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology suggested we change our state bird. Because Wisconsin is home to 12.6% of the world’s population of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, ornithologists proposed we switch. Wisconsin also has 25% of the world’s remaining Golden-winged Warblers, a migratory songbird that’s suffered one of the steepest population declines in the last 50 years.

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge is often regarded as the best spot for birdwatching in Wisconsin. Spanning about 10 square miles, you’re likely to spot Henslow’s Sparrow, Virginia Rail, Sora, Grasshopper Sparrow, and Dickcissel, among other birds. Click here for directions and hours.

MAP: Best Places for Bird Watching in Wisconsin


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.



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