When you think of “big events” here in the Baraboo hills, your first thought might not be the annual bird migration, but maybe it should be. It is a real rarity to see so many different types of birds gathered in one place at one time. What’s more, they are easy to find and often you can watch them from the road with little effort (and no fees) required. You simply need to get out there!
When it comes to nature, it often feels like the Baraboo area is at the heart of everything! The annual migrations are no different. Right now you can see everything from hooded mergansers, scaups & wood ducks to pelicans, cranes and heron within minutes of Devil’s Lake State Park! Even trumpeter swans have been seen in the area! While some of the critters you’ll see will stay through the summer, many species will be here for just a matter of days before heading further north so it’s important to get out there quickly before they’re gone.
The best times to go out looking for wildlife, especially on the water, is in the early morning or late evening when the birds are settling in for the night. If you decide to head out to have a look for yourself, just remember most waterfowl are pretty skittish. It’s best to stay in your car when possible. Binoculars are a good idea. Also, remember not only to watch, but listen! Some folks are simply much better at locating and IDing animals and birds by the sounds they make, rather than on sight. Most of all, have fun and keep in mind that you are sharing in an huge annual event that few people actually take the time to see. How cool is that?!
While bird identification isn’t necessary, it can be fun to put a name to a face, or bill, or beak, or paw… A good ID book or app can enhance the evening’s discovery. When it comes to birding books, we use a Crossley Guide. It’s a bit expensive, but worthwhile. Our favorite App is the Autubon Field Guide that has information for mammals, flowers & trees as well.
Where do you start? Well for us, our favorite nearby places to look for migratory species right now are Gallus Slough near Merrimac, the wetlands on Marsh Rd and DL near Parfrey’s Glen and certainly the slough at Mirror Lake State Park. But keep in mind that any bit of open water may be full of critters right now!
Use the map below to see some of the species that have been seen at each location.
Have you visited any of these local spots this spring? What migrating species have you seen this year?