Wisconsin Birding Destination
I love Wisconsin birding! Between the beer and the SCUBA travel I don’t often post about my bird passion. Bird watching seems to be a lost art, known as an activity of past generations. However, according to Birdwatching.com it is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities. Over 50 million Americans report that they participate in birdwatching.
Wisconsin is lush with lakes, prairies, wooded acres and wetlands, what better place to indulge in a passion for birds. The four diverse seasons of the Upper Midwest creates the unique conditions that make Wisconsin birding so vibrant. Migratory breeds fly back and forth through the state. The open rivers are home to wintering raptors, the marshes are incubators for spring nesting cranes. The people of Wisconsin reflect this beauty with their environmental awareness and protection.
Bird watching in the City
Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin, stands proudly on the west shores of Lake Michigan. The city and surrounding communities faithfully maintain abundant green space and protected habitats. One such area is the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, located less than 20 minutes north of downtown along the bluffs of Lake Michigan.
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
In the 1800’s this land was Nine Mile Farm. It was owned by the Schlitz Brewing Co and family. Nine Mile Farm was the farm used to rest the Schlitz draft horses and it was exactly nine miles from the brewery in Milwaukee. Well into the 20th century environmental activists from the community started a relationship with the Audubon Society to set this land aside as a bird sanctuary. Today it boasts 6 miles of hiking trails, spectacular views of Lake Michigan, habitat for 250 species of birds and a beautiful Interpretive Center. The organization’s mission focuses on educating the community about local wildlife and Wisconsin birding.
Schlitz Audubon Raptor Program
In addition to providing educational support of Wisconsin birding the Schlitz Audubon has a raptor rescue program. The program consists of 16 birds. All of the birds are unable to be released back to wild. They are permanent residents of the Center.
“They have taken up the mantle of “feathered ambassadors” and are dedicated to providing information
about their wild relatives, habitat concerns, and issues facing raptors today. These powerful and
graceful birds, each with their own story, make an enormous impact, providing a true connection
and appreciation for all wildlife and the habitat we share. Nothing is more thrilling than meeting
a bird of prey up close and personal.” Schlitz Audubon Raptor Program
The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center travels with these magnificent birds around the state to share with the people of Wisconsin. They also provide several opportunities throughout the year for the community to experience the raptors in the natural setting of the park grounds.
I have attended a couple of these events this last year. In the fall it was a family day with the raptors and I took my grandson. This spring just a few weeks ago they presented a Raptor Photo Shoot. This day in the spring was a much smaller group restricted to photographers specifically. It was like a “red carpet” affair, these birds were really strutting their stuff for the Wisconsin birding photographers.
What is a Raptor?
A raptor is a bird of prey. There are 30 species of hawks, falcons, and eagles, as well as 18 species of owls breeding in North America. These birds have specific characteristics that help them to be unparalleled hunters. Raptors have keen senses so that they can see, hear and smell their prey from great distances. Raptors have large razor-like talons for grasping and large hooked beaks to tear their prey. They are pretty badass!
Let’s meet these birds.
The Schlitz Audubon is a perfect place to get out with nature. The trails and grounds are great for hiking and of course bird watching. Schlitz Audubon created its Raptor program to provide public education about these birds. They make them available frequently for young and old to learn. Watch for announcements of their many appearances at home in the Schlitz, and all over the state at special events.