Birders Are Flocking to Marinette County
As the days lengthen and temperatures warm, the wetlands, fields and forests in Marinette County come alive with the sounds of our returning feathered friends, including red-winged blackbirds, loons, and warblers.
You may have picked up the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail, a mapped auto trail guide that directs the nature traveler to the state’s premier wildlife venues. If not, it’s available through the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. It features full-color guides for each of the five birding and nature trail regions. The Lake Michigan Region outlines favorite birding areas in Marinette County.
Bloch Oxbow State Natural Area
This 614-acre State Natural Area (SNA) is one of the best examples of northern dry-mesic forest remaining in Wisconsin. The Peshtigo River flows through the area, attracting many species of waterfowl and wading birds. The woodlands support warblers, scarlet tanagers, great-crested flycatchers, and Baltimore orioles. A great blue heron rookery and a large colony of bank swallows are also found here. You might spot a caspian and forester’s tern. Directions: From the intersection of Hwy. 41 and Cty. B in Peshtigo, go south 1.3 miles on Cty. B to Cty. BB 2.8 miles to a parking area east of the road. The best pines are east of BB.
Dunbar Barrens State Natural Area
Dunbar Barrens is a 1,330-acre pine barrens located on gently rolling glacial outwash. Because this area is so open and dominated by grasslands, it’s a great place to see vesper, field, and clay-colored sparrows, as well as eastern kingbirds, bobolinks, eastern meadowlarks, eastern bluebirds, and eastern towhees. This area is not accessible during spring breakup. Directions: From the intersection of Hwy. 8 and Cty. U west of Dunbar, go west 2.1 miles on Hwy. 8, then north on an unimproved access road 1.3 miles, then west 0.4 mile to the southeast corner of the site.
Governor Thompson State Park
This 2,187-acre state park includes a mix of upland and wetland forest to provide diverse habitats that host a variety of birds. A restored pine barrens might provide you with a northern harrier for your birding checklist. This property is an excellent place to see broad-winged hawks and red-shouldered hawks, as well as ruffed grouse, red-headed woodpeckers, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers. Directions: Located about 15 miles northwest of Crivitz via Cty. A to Cty. X to the High Falls Reservoir bridge. Cross the bridge, then north on Parkway Rd., west on Ranch Rd., and north on Paust Ln. to the park.
Peshtigo Harbor Unit–Green Bay West Shore State Wildlife Area
Four miles of frontage on Green Bay draws large concentrations of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds to this State Wildlife Area. The Peshtigo River flows through the bottomland forest. Interpretive trails allow visitors to experience the area. Signature species include waterfowl, terns, rails, bitterns, harriers, and sparrows. Directions: Located 5 miles southeast of Peshtigo. South of the Peshtigo River, take Hale Rd. to Harbor Rd. to the area. North of the river, take Cty. B to Cty. BB.
Seagull Bar State Natural Area
Seagull Bar is a sand spit and marsh complex on Green Bay. The sand spit shelters a lagoon and large area of shallow water with emergent vegetation. This area is the only dune complex with a system of sand ridges and wetlands on Green Bay. During some spring and fall migrations, shorebirds gather there by the thousands to rest and feed. The lagoon is attractive to all species of waterfowl. Directions: Via Leonard Street in the southeastern corner of the city of Marinette, drive to Red Arrow Park on the shore of Green Bay. Walk southeast into the natural area. Parts are closed during nesting season.
This spot is a favorite for avid birders or those just wanting to take in some natural beauty. It offers needed habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds along the bay. It’s also a great place to see birds rare to this region as they rest during migration seasons. To find the observation deck, take Shore Drive south; at University, it becomes Cty. BB. Follow that for approximately 7 miles, take a left onto Pond Road, and go approximately half a mile to the deck. There will be a sign at Pond Road.
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