Birds of Wisconsin — Why is THE BEST Birding in Bayfield?
Spring and summer are a birdwatcher’s heaven in Bayfield, Wisconsin. New to birding? Get a list of twenty common species you might see (or hear!) right outside your cottage window here in Brickyard Creek.
One perk of being a Boreal Forest Citizen (whether you’re a full-time Brickyard Creek resident or visiting for the weekend), is enjoying the incredible variety of birds who live and migrate through Bayfield County. Some say we have the BEST birding opportunities in the state!
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Why is THE BEST Bird Watching in Bayfield?
We’re in luck! Brickyard Creek’s geographic location on the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore along with the surrounding area provide an important refuge for birds. The area has been identified as one of the heaviest traveled migratory flyways in the Great Lakes Region.
Precisely what makes the Chequamegon Bay area one of the best birding locations in the state? According to the National Parks Service:
Chequamegon Bay’s unique landscapes form a central point for a diversity of habitats, including open water, mudflats, coastal wetlands, open fields, pine barrens, and varied forest types. As a result, the bay area hosts a wide variety of bird species that depend on these habitats during the breeding, migration, and winter seasons. (source)
Not only does the Bayfield area offer extraordinary natural beauty, but it also provides unparalleled bird watching opportunities here in northern Wisconsin.
Our good friend, Erica Peterson the president of The Friends of the Apostle Islands, provided a list of birds you might see (or hear!) right outside your cottage window here in Brickyard Creek.
Erica served as a Park Ranger on Stockton Island many years ago but now volunteers as an opportunity to give back to Bayfield for all its beach walks, bog smells, wild storms, eagle sightings, and night skies. One of her goals is to help steward the park’s vital future. Brickyard Creek often volunteers with The Friends of the Apostle Islands on projects.
Birds of Brickyard Creek
Here are ten species of birds you might encounter when you’re at Brickyard Creek. If you’re not 100% sure you’ve identified the species correctly, click on the “More ID Info” and find additional photos, video, and bird call recordings for each bird on from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. We encourage you to print this list and keep track of the birds you see in the area!
1. American Redstart
A lively warbler that hops among tree branches in search of insects, the male American Redstart is coal-black with vivid orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail. True to its Halloween-themed color scheme, the redstart seems to startle its prey out of the foliage by flashing its strikingly patterned tail and wing feathers. Females and immature males have more subdued yellow “flash patterns” on a gray background. These sweet-singing warblers nest in open woodlands across much of North America. (More ID Info)
Photo by Andy Raego
2. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are fairly small woodpeckers with stout, straight bills. The long wings extend about halfway to the tip of the stiff, pointed tail at rest. Often, sapsuckers hold their crown feathers up to form a peak at the back of the head. (More ID Information)
Photo by Shawn Taylor
3. Eastern Bluebird
Marvelous birds to capture in your binoculars, male Eastern Bluebirds are a brilliant royal blue on the back and head, and warm red-brown on the breast. Blue tinges in the wings and tail give the grayer females an elegant look. (More ID Info)
Photo by Kelly Colgan Azar
4. Red-Winged Blackbird
One of the most boldly colored birds, the Red-winged Blackbird is a familiar sight atop cattails and soggy roadsides. Glossy-black males have scarlet-and-yellow shoulder patches they can puff up or hide depending on how confident they feel. Females are a subdued, streaky brown, almost like a large, dark sparrow. Their early and tumbling songs are happy indications of the return of spring to Brickyard Creek. (More ID Info)
Photo by Katja Schulz
5. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
A flash of green and red, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is eastern North America’s sole breeding hummingbird. These brilliant, tiny, precision-flying creatures glitter like jewels in the full sun, then vanish with a zip toward the next nectar source. Flower gardens are great ways to attract these birds, and some people turn their yards into buzzing clouds of hummingbirds each summer. Enjoy them while they’re around; by early fall they’re bound for Central America, with many crossing the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight. (More ID Info)
Photo by Matt Tillett
The Ovenbird’s rapid-fire teacher-teacher-teacher song rings out in summer hardwood forests. It’s so loud that it may come as a surprise to find this inconspicuous warbler strutting like a tiny chicken across the dim forest floor. It’s olive-brown back and spotted breast are excellent disguise as it gleans invertebrates from the leaf litter. Its nest, a leaf-covered dome resembling an old-fashioned outdoor oven, gives the Ovenbird its name. (More ID Info)
Photo by Kent McFarland
7. Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Bursting with black, white, and rose-red, male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are like an exclamation mark in the woods. Females and immatures are streaked brown and white with a bold face pattern and enormous bill. Look for these birds in forest edges and woodlands. Listen, too, for their distinctive voices. They sound like American Robins, but listen for an extra sweetness, as if the bird had operatic training; they also make a sharp chink like the squeak of a sneaker.
Photo by Kelly Colgan Azar
8. Great-Horned Owl
With its long, earlike tufts, intimidating yellow-eyed stare, and deep hooting voice, the Great Horned Owl is the quintessential owl of storybooks. This powerful predator can take down birds and mammals even larger than itself, but it also dines on daintier fare such as tiny mice and frogs. It’s equally at home in wetlands, forests, grasslands, and almost any other semi-open habitat between the Arctic and the tropics. (More ID Info)
Photo by Sunny
8. Black-Capped Chickadee
A bird almost universally considered “cute” thanks to its oversized round head, tiny body, and curiosity about everything, including humans. The chickadee’s black cap and bib; white cheeks; gray back, wings, and tail; and whitish underside with buffy sides are distinctive. Its habit of investigating people and everything else in its home territory, make it one of the first birds most people learn. (More ID Info)
Photo by Tim Sackton
9. Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Shrubs and trees fill with the streaky brown-and-yellow birds and their distinctive, sharp chips. Though the color palette of the Yellow-rumped Warblers is subdued all winter, you owe it to yourself to seek these birds out on their spring migration or on their breeding grounds (Bayfield is included in their breeding ground!). Spring molt brings a transformation, leaving them a dazzling mix of bright yellow, charcoal gray and black, and bold white. (More ID Info)
Photo by Becky Matsubara
10. Pileated Woodpecker
The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. It’s nearly the size of a crow, black with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest. Look (and listen) for Pileated Woodpeckers whacking at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their main prey, carpenter ants, leaving unique rectangular holes in the wood. The nest holes these birds make offer crucial shelter to many species including swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens. (More ID Info)
Photo by Sunny
Additional Species on the Brickyard Creek Bird List
Here are a few other birds you might find in the woods of Brickyard Creek or near the lake. Click and see additional photos, video, and bird call recordings for each bird on from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
- White-Breasted Nuthatch
- Red-Breasted Nuthatch
- Song Sparrow
- Downy Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- American Goldfinch
- Tree Swallow
- Belted Kingfisher
Birds of Wisconsin Field Guide
If you’re new to birding, Brickyard Creek community member Zina Harrington recommends the Birds of Wisconsin Guide. She explains:
“This pocket-sized field guide is perfect for beginners. It features over one-hundred local species of bird and is organized by color making it easy for novices to navigate. The photos (vs traditional sketches) are large making identification simple.
We love that it also has a complementary audio guide, too. The track number at the bottom of each page in the field guide directs you to the correct CD track. We and the girls have learned a handful of calls. It makes a bird hike feel like a quiet game of hide-and-seek when you know the specie’s songs.”
Find a copy at the Apostle Island Booksellers downtown!
Printable Bird Guides for Bayfield County
Here are a few more in-depth printable bird lists:
Bird Checklist for Big Bay State Park
Wisconsin Department of National Resources
Full Checklist of Wisconsin State Birds (PDF)
Second Edition, 2008
Full Checklist of 300 + Chequamegon Bay Birds (PDF)
Compiled by Ryan Brady and Dick Verch, May 2007
Write for the Boreal Forest Citizen
The BYC Vision Committee invites you to Check Your Pulse, consider these guiding questions, and share your responses with your neighbors on our BYC Community website.
- What makes Brickyard Creek special?
- What is the draw?
- What is the hold?
If you are willing to share your responses to these original guiding questions with your neighbors, please send them to the BYC Manager, Jeffery Garrett for posting here on our BYC Community website.