With its abundance of protected public wild lands, the Minocqua area is a great place to see rare and endangered birds in their natural habitats. Many of these areas can be easily accessed by car or on foot. A canoe or kayak can also be useful for up-close investigations of birds and the pristine ecosystems in which they reside.
Area hiking trails are great destinations for birdwatchers who wish to meander through spectacular scenery on well-marked paths.
The following are a few of the area’s most prized birdwatching locations:
The Rainbow Flowage is an official Wisconsin Important Bird Site. This 5,000-acre habitat is home to merlins, spruce grouse, black-backed woodpeckers, gray jays, boreal chickadees, olive-sided flycatchers, yellow-bellied flycatchers, palm warblers, Canada warblers, Northern waterthrush and evening grosbeak. Bald eagles and osprey nest around the flowage; waterfowl congregate during migration; and shorebirds congregate in the fall, when flowage drawdowns expose mudflats.
North Lakeland Discovery Center is a featured site along the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail. Diverse populations of nesting and migrating songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl can be found along the center’s 25 kilometer trail system. In addition to self-guided tours, the center offers many bird-related learning programs.
Northern Highland - American Legion (NH-AL) State Forest’s more than 220,000 acres of lakes and woodlands offer the best opportunities to see bald eagles in their nesting habitats. Birders may also spot the alder flycatcher, vesper sparrow and yellow-bellied sapsucker. Rare sightings include the gray jay, Nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrow and LeConte’s sparrow.