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A wide range of bird species can be observed at Schlitz Audubon because of our varied habitats and our location within a migratory flyway on Lake Michigan. Since 1974, 260 species, including 36 warbler species, have been seen at Schlitz Audubon. We are also a designated Important Bird Area due to the habitat provided by Lake Michigan for certain waterfowl, as well as our contiguous uplands which provide crucial habitat for migrants, breeding, and overwintering birds. The best time of day to hit our birding trails to go birdwatching is in the early morning when bird song will be most vibrant, or in early evening when the birds are feeding before their nighttime journey in migration.
Migratory Bird Patterns
Spring migration happens between late March and early June; Fall migration occurs between late July and early October. There are also many year-round residents you can see in the winter months at the Center as well, including migratory birds, such as the Eastern Screech Owl, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Cardinal, and a variety of woodpecker species.
Spring Migration in Southeastern Wisconsin
Spring migration is the most exciting time of year for birdwatchers. The burst of color and bird song on a May morning is what brings many to the trails. Fiery oranges, golden to olive yellows, vibrant blues, and even striking patterns of black and white draw our eyes and binoculars. In Milwaukee, we have hundreds of species that will migrate through in spring, including warblers, tanagers, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, sparrows and other songbirds. Many species travel thousands of miles to get to their northern breeding grounds and stop in Milwaukee for a day or two to refuel on their journey. Late March through early June is the best window of time to see migrants, with different families of birds peaking at specific times within this window. Check eBird for recent sightings.
While there are no wrong hiking trails to explore at Schlitz Audubon, this is a good route to start with. Walk by Mystery Lake, then take the paved path down to Lake Michigan, and then head back up to the building by following the North Lake Terrace Hiking Trail. During spring migration, this route should give a great variety of the birds of Wisconsin, including many warbler species.
Record Your Birding Observations
When you’ve finished birdwatching for the day, head into the Great Hall and mark your sightings on our birding chart. These observations are entered into eBird and are added to our legacy of observations that have been collected since 1974. Because of these observations, Schlitz Audubon has one of the longest-running Citizen Science birding projects in the region.
If you observe any species that are not on this list, please contact Zoe Finney at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to add such observations and expand our Center’s official birding list!