Horicon Marsh and International Migratory Bird Day

What a way to spend International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) – a trip to Horicon Marsh! Horicon Marsh is 2/3 National Wildlife Refuge and 1/3 owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. At over 21,000 acres, Horicon is a birder’s paradise and also a difficult place to cover in a day or even a weekend.

Horicon Marsh
Horicon Marsh

We casually birded a large portion of Horicon Marsh and netted 72 species of birds. About an hour into our trip my camera’s battery went “bwaant-bwaaaa!” (actual sound not made) and the battery was dead. Doh! Luckily we had a backup camera but Dakota (Veery’s son and Birdfreak’s nephew) took over photo duties.

Dakota, a young member of the Birdfreak Team
Little "D"

Tree Swallow
Tree Swallow

What’s great about Horicon Marsh is that many of the birds are easy to find and offer long, detailed fews. Hardly any bird is a glimpse or partial view. We had lengthy views of two great warblers – Cape May and Blackpoll.

Blackpoll Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler

Bud Cook Nature Trail – home to TONS of Bobolinks and Sedge Wrens. We also saw Northern Harriers, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, and Sandhill Cranes.
Birding at Bud Cook

Bobolink – trying to blend in with the dandelions
Bobolink
Bobolink

American Coot
American Coot

Yellow-headed Blackbird – seriously, one of the coolest bird sounds
Yellow-headed Blackbird

Forster’s Tern – abundant along with Black Terns
Forster's Tern

There was only one minor glitch in our birding. First a little background about Dakota. At 9 years old Dakota is a fine birder. He is relatively well-behaved and superb at spotting birds (and usually at identifying them). What’s great about him is his drive to find birds and now to photograph them too. His been bird-banding several times, including the Lazuli Bunting sighting, and has always been polite and liked by the banders.

So the problem was this: while we were walking up from our trail after seeing Cape May Warblers a snobby lady sternly told Dakota to “Not touch the nets!”, referring to the mist-nets they had set up for a bird-banding session. This was unwarranted as Dakota was NOT touching the nets nor did he have any intention to touch them. There was no bird and nary a bug and no reason for him to “touch the nets”. It is this sort of nagging, annoying person that discourages youthful birders from this hobby/sport and from wanting to conserve bird habitat.

We walked away from the bird banding disgusted but excited to know that we were on our way to see Bobolinks, Blackbirds, and Blackpolls while that lady was destined to continue her patrol for any children that wander within a foot of their precious nets.

5 thoughts on “Horicon Marsh and International Migratory Bird Day

  1. Horicon Marsh sounds like a paradise. I grew up in Northern Illinois, but didn’t become a birder until I moved away. Still, we visit at least once a year – more often twice a year and often drive to Northern Wisconsin from Northern Illinois when we are in the area in the summer. I’m putting Horicon Marsh on our places to visit for the next time we head to Wisconsin from Elgin.

    Thanks – I’d never heard of it.

    Oh – and the story about the net lady – I have a similar story about an artist who admonished my children to not touch his art. They had no intention of touching it – I guess he’d met kids that did touch it and assumed all others would do the same.

  2. Sounds like a fantastic trip. I know the pain of having the camera die mid-trip, but it looks like you nailed some excellent photos anyway.

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