Birdwatching

Located along the Wisconsin River and blessed with woodlands, wetlands and grasslands, the Wisconsin Rapids area is one of the nation’s top birding hot spots.

Wisconsin Rapids is located in an ecological landscape known as the Central Sand Plains. You can learn more about the Central Sand Plains from the Wisconsin DNR’s Land Legacy Report.

This vast, sandy plain was once Glacial Lake Wisconsin, a large body of water formed by glacial runoff. The ancient lake once covered 1,800 square miles.

The Wisconsin Rapids area offers opportunities for the birder to see up to 200 bird species. See a list of the Wisconsin Rapids area’s most notable bird species.

Several wildlife areas allow birdwatchers to travel between different habitats and viewing areas with ease. Visit one of the viewing areas.

There are 408 species of birds known to inhabit Wisconsin, including 400 native species. Download a complete checklist of Wisconsin birds. Among these species are 3 that are Federally Endangered, 12 State Endangered, 13 State Threatened, and 76 Special Concern species.

The Wisconsin Rapids area is home to several rare, uncommon, and priority bird species, including whooping crane, trumpeter swan, osprey, sharp-tailed grouse, American woodcock, greater prairie-chicken, red shouldered hawk, northern harrier, short-eared owl, red-headed woodpecker, golden-winged warbler, prothonotary warbler, Henslow’s sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, eastern meadowlark and upland sandpiper, as well as rare sightings of the cerulean warbler, hooded warbler and Acadian flycatcher. There are also some bird species that are more “northern” in occurrence, which can be seen in the Wisconsin Rapids area, such as pine warbler, Blackburnian warbler, hermit thrush, and white-throated sparrow. And waterfowl is abundant in the wetlands of the Wisconsin Rapids area. Sightings include wood duck and hooded merganser.

Neo-tropical migrating birds, particularly many of the area’s songbirds and shorebirds, are best spotted in the Wisconsin Rapids area in the spring during their journey north, and late summer/early fall before they fly to southern Mexico and Central and South America.

For an inside line on migratory and resident birds, wetland and woodland tours at Glacial Lake Cranberries are available during the year to see trumpeter swans, black terns, sandhill cranes, loons and other resident species. Give them a call to arrange a private tour or, stay on site at The Stone Cottage and watch the action from your own front porch.