The Mississippi River environment serves as a migration corridor not only for waterfowl, but also for numerous other birds such as raptors, shorebirds, and neo-tropical migratory songbirds. In the spring and summer, the river provides important nesting habitat for many species. Even in the coldest months the area serves as wintering ground for northern bird populations, in addition to year-round residents. Bald Eagle watching during the colder winter months is popular for winter visitors.
Birding & Prairie Report
If you would like to report bird sightings, please email the Chamber. List date and location with your report. These reports will be posted on the Bald Eagle page of this web site where updates of viewing locations for Bald Eagles are also posted.
Birding is great in the Prairie du Chien area all year long. There are several parks, Wisconsin DNR properties, Effigy Mounds National Monument, and the Upper Mississippi River Refuge as public lands available for birding. Wyalusing State Park (WI) and Pikes Peak State Park (IA) are two parks with many trails and history of birding at migration time as well as some interesting nesting birds such as the hooded warbler and the yellow-throated warbler. Effigy Mounds has a lot to offer as well. The monument is located along the Mississippi River with varied habitats for birding. There are 14 miles of trails, including a trail into the Yellow River bottoms. The trails cover habitat from woodland to prairies. Cerulean warblers and scarlet tanagers are common nesters. The hawk watch in the fall is one of the best migration catching activities along the Mississippi River.
The Upper Mississippi Refuge is one of the largest refuges in the United States. Birding on the refuge can be as simple as walking along a trail or taking a boat into the backwaters to a rookery or eagle nest.
In the city of Prairie du Chien, there are many locations to observe birding activity. On the south side of the city along Vineyard (Coulee) Road, La Riviere Park is a 300 acre nature park with lots of birding activity. The various habitats at this park include woodlands, grasslands, native prairie, and park lands. Birds of interest include lark sparrow, Carolina wren, and scarlet tanager. Additional birding can be done along the riverfront.
All parks/birding areas have bird lists. Most are found on the internet and many, such as the Prairie du Chien web site, will have birding updates posted.
Spring birding brings the warbler migration peak around May 4-8. A bird list can be found at the park, recorded since 1987, noting the arrival dates of migrants and summer visitors. Warbler migration has been very consistant over the years. The first or second weekend in May should be the time to see these birds in the area. Bird walks are conducted at La Riviere Park on May 1 and May 8 at 7:30 a.m. and at Effigy Mounds on May 8 at 10 a.m.
La Riviere Park brings Dennis Kirschbaum, conducting Timberdoodle (woodcock) dance activities during some evenings in late April. There may be organized activities planned or self-guided activities.
Contact Dennis Kirschbaum at (608) 326-2718 for updates or info on specific places or birds you would like to see, or contact the Chamber office via email at infoprairieduchien.org.
Ambrough Slough Loop
Located north on County K in Prairie du Chien, then follow Ambrough Road along sloughs and backwater for two miles.
In the spring migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, gulls, Sandhill Cranes, Egrets, herons, Pileated Woodpeckers, American Redstarts, Prothonotary Warblers, and Warbling Vireos can be seen.
Effigy Mounds National Monument
Three miles north of Marquette, IA, off Highway 76, Harpers Ferry, IA
Excellent birding for warblers, vitreos, and other forest birds. Waterfowl can be found in the backwater ponds. Special events include Hawk Watch Weekend held in late September. The monument is open year-round. It was established to preserve outstanding examples of a prehistoric American Indian mound building culture that regularly constructed mounds in the shape of mammals, birds, or reptiles. The monument contains 2,526 acres with 206 mounds, of which 31 are effigies. The Visitor Center contains museum exhibits, a video presentation, and a book sales outlet. Visitors may view the mounds, see spectacular views from bluffs along the Mississippi River, and experience more than 100 acres of prairie by walking along 14 miles of hiking trails. Three conical mounds are accessible to disabled visitors via a boardwalk trail. In the summer months ranger-led programs are available. Special summer and evening hikes are available-call the park after June 1 for specific information. Admission is free. A winter film festival is held January through March, with films shown each Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
La Riviere Park
Located on Vineyard Coulee Road southeast of Prairie du Chien, WI
Resident warblers include Blue-wings, Ceruleans, Common Yellowthroats, Ovenbirds, American Redstarts, Wood Thrushes, Rufous-sided Towhee, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Black and Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Scarlet Tanagers, and Carolina Wrens. On the Toboggan Slope and Dan La Riviere Trails, species such as Lark Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, Wild Turkeys, Ruffed Grouse, Ring-necked Pheasants and several species of woodpeckers can be seen. A 300 acre city park in its natural setting with native prairie. Provides hiking, nature, bird watching, skiing, riding trails, picnic area, shelter house, and horse camping. Operated by Prairie du Chien Parks Department.
West on Blackhawk Avenue, downtown Prairie du Chien
Prime location for viewing Bald Eagles. Riverfront park on St. Feriole Island in Prairie du Chien. The park features the Walk of History, detailing earliest periods of Wisconsin’s Second Oldest Community. Named for John Lawler, known for building the pontoon bridge and the city’s greatest philanthropist. The park has excellent facilities for family picnics, boat landing, and public restrooms.
Leitner Hollow Road
Two miles south of Lynxville and north of Lock & Dam 9.
Wild Turkey, Eastern Bluebird, cuckoos, warblers, vireos, and an excellent variety of woodland birds. This narrow, two mile dead-end road is not recommended for winter travel, but excellent for walking.
Viewing of Warblers, vireos, and thrushes. A 25 acre, wooded, city park atop a majestic bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in Lansing, Iowa. Spectacular views of the river and its backwaters; as well as vistas of three states seen from two overlooks. The Lansing bridge, 30 miles north of the Marquette-Jolliet Bridge in Prairie du Chien, is the northern gateway to Crawford County.
Nelson Dewey State Park
Located across from Stonefield Village in Cassville, WI
Park Info (608) 725-5374, Camping Reservations (888) 947-2757
Wide variety of warblers, vireos, and other songbirds, with raptors during fall migration and Bald Eagles year round, especially in winter. Part of the original estate of Wisconsin's first governor, Nelson Dewey. Features a panoramic overlook of the Mississippi River. Indian mounds, camping, hiking, picnicking, playground, bird and wildlife observation area. Weekend and holiday tours of the home and grounds. Admission charged.
Picatee Creek Road
Picatee Creed Road is approximately five miles north of Prairie du Chien on Hwy 35, cross the railroad tracks and follow the paths.
Waterfowl during spring migration, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Swamp Sparrows, and Red-shouldered Hawks.
Pikes Peak State Park
Broad-winged Hawks, Barred Owls, Bald Eagles, American Redstarts, a variety of woodpeckers, vireos, warblers and thrushes. One of Iowa's most beautiful state parks. Popular recently constructed scenic overlook. A favorite spot of photographers who take majestic shots of two great rivers in any season or weather. Also contains campsites, picnic grounds, waterfall, and hiking and nature trails. Named for Lt. Zebulon Pike, army surveyor of the Mississippi in 1805, who suggested a fort be built on this site.
St. Feriole Island
Two approaches to the island, Blackhawk Avenue entrance and Washington Street entrance, Prairie du Chien, WI.
Warblers, Snow Buntings in winter, vireos, gulls, shorebirds, Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, and Savannah Sparrows. Area of earliest settlement and activity in Prairie du Chien. Site of the Battle of Prairie du Chien during the War of 1812 and of the first Fort Crawford where three important Indian treaties were signed. Fourth Ward residential neighborhood until it was relocated following the record flood of 1965. Home of the Villa Louis, the Dousman family estate built on the site of Fort Crawford. Contains Lawler Park on the riverfront. Host to annual events including the Prairie Villa Rendezvous, Prairie Dog Blues Fest, and the Villa Louis Carriage Classic. Ideal for walking and biking. Scenic location for watching ducks and eagles in season. Boat landings and picnic areas are also located on the island.
"Upper Miss" Refuge
McGregor District Office located along Business Hwy 18 between Marquette and McGregor, IA
The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge provides many opportunities to hunt, fish, camp, view wildlife, or enjoy a relaxing afternoon. Highlights in the Prairie du Chien area include the Sturgeon Slough Hiking Trail, accessed from the rest stop located on Highway 18 between Prairie du Chien and Marquette. Displays and information can be found at the District Office.
Yellow River State Forest
North of Marquette, IA, off Hwy 76
Excellent variety of songbirds, Whip-poor wills, American Woodcocks, and woodpeckers. Good area for nesting hawks and owls. One of the nation's most picturesque regions, with 5,800 acres of timbered hills and valleys. There are 25 miles of hiking trails, 13 miles of equestrian trails, plus many miles of snowmobile and cross-country ski trails. Includes stocked trout streams, marsh areas, picnic areas, and camping areas. Open for hunting and fishing. Open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. No admission charged. Groups welcome. Administered by the IDNR. For maps and information on camping, hiking, etc., phone (563) 586-2548.
Wyalusing State Park
10 miles south of Prairie du Chien, WI
Perhaps the best place in Wisconsin for Kentucky, Cerulean, Yellow-throated Warblers, Prothonotary Warblers, Bell's Vireos, Henslow's Sparrows, Wild Turkeys, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, Turkey Vultures, and Bald Eagles. Features views of the historic junction of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers where the first Europeans, Marquette and Jolliet, landed in 1673. Has 110 family campsites, group camping facilities, picnic facilities, 22 miles of hiking and nature trails, and a year round naturalist. Naturalist programs held throughout the year. Astronomy education programs held the second and fourth Saturdays, weather and moon phase permitting, contact the park for details. Admission charged.
Birding information from the Audubon Great River Birding Trail publication.