Bird watching has gained popularity in recent years. It’s no surprise giving how accessible the hobby is. Expert or novice, destination or backyard, young or old, expensive equipment or no equipment at all—everyone can find enjoyment in birding. And, it has its benefits too! Spending more time in nature has been proven to positively impact your mental and physical health. You can improve your mood, soak up some vitamin D and get in some cardio all while identifying feathered wildlife.
Jefferson County offers several wonderful opportunities for bird watching. The counties’ numerous habitats attract a variety of bird species. The lakes provide wonderful stopovers for “wow” birds like pelicans and loons. The wetlands bring in hundreds of migratory waterfowl. The prairies are sanctuaries for nesting birds. And, the woods are home to many year-round residents.
If you are new to birding, your backyard is a wonderful place start. However, it is just as fun to venture out! We’ve compiled a list of places in Jefferson County to do just that:
Zeloski Marsh (Lake Mills)
The Zeloski Marsh Unit within the Lake Mills Wildlife Area is truly a birder’s paradise. The property is a wetland restoration success that now contains nearly all breeding populations of priority wetland bird species for Southern Wisconsin!
Tip: Bird on your bike from the Glacial Drumlin Bike Trail.
Dorothy Carnes County Park & Rose Lake State Natural Area (Fort Atkinson)
As a designated Bird City, it’s no wonder Fort Atkinson boasts great birding! Dorothy Carnes County Park & Rose Lake SNA features two miles of trails and an accessible viewing platform. The Greater Lake Koshkonong Important Bird Area is nearby for more to explore!
Tip: Stop at the Hoard Historical Museum for their Bird Room exhibit.
Lunde Woods at Brandt-Quirk Park (Watertown)
Lunde Woods is the perfect spot for the youngest members of your flock! The Friends of the Library Storybook Trail is open for reading. The trail begins back by the baseball complex on the path next to the railroad tracks and meanders through the woods.
Tip: Look & listen for everyone’s favorite—woodpeckers!
Madison Audubon’s Faville Grove (Lake Mills)
Madison Audubon’s Faville Grove Sanctuary is another restoration success story. Aldo Leopold himself fought to preserve this rich, biodiverse landscape. The property has multiple nest boxes for wood ducks, American kestrels, bluebirds and more. And, it’s home to numerous rare plants such as the eastern prairie white-fringed orchid.
Tip: Visit on a spring evening to watch woodcock’s perform their mating dance!
Jefferson Marsh State Wildlife Area & Jefferson Tamarack Swamp State Natural Area (Jefferson)
As the largest forested wetland in Jefferson County and one of the most extensive in southeastern Wisconsin, this three-thousand-acre property has been monitored for birds since the 1800s. Its size makes it a great refuge for birds and animals.
Tip: Cerulean warblers have been spotted here; males boast a beautiful blue plumage.
This map provides the locations of each site listed as well some bonus places to visit:
Did you know? The return of the American robin signifies the start of spring while sightings of dark-eyed juncos typically usher in the cold. As a beginner birder, you’ll discover birds open your eyes to new ways of viewing the world.