Why Birding is Special at Wyalusing State Park

Special Contributing Blog Author
by special request
Bettie Harriman, Oshkosh, WI
Wisconsin Society for Orinthology (Web Link)
Most Wisconsin birders try to make it to this beautiful state park in the southwest corner of the state at least once in May-June of each year. The reason? It is “one-stop shopping” for several more southern species of birds that nest each year in Wisconsin. On a visit to Wyalusing in late May you will probably either hear or see (or both) the Henslow’s Sparrow (a Threatened species in our state) in the fields along either side of the entrance road at the top of the hill past the Visitor’s Center.
Walking down Long Valley Road allows a birder to find three more Threatened species: Cerulean and Kentucky Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher—all are more southern species that nest along the steep slopes of this park. Birding around the boat landing at the end of this road will reveal nesting Prothonotary Warbler, still another southern species that uses cavities in trees along the backwaters of large rivers and is considered a Species of Special Concern in Wisconsin. You might hear (even if you don’t get to see) Red-shouldered Hawk and both Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos calling from the deep wooded areas or watch a Yellow-throated Vireo or Baltimore Oriole building a nest. On a good migration day, dozens of other warblers and forest nesting species can be heard and seen as they move through on their way farther north or settle in to nest here in the park. And some years, even more surprises await visiting birders—two warblers, also more common farther south, take up residence at the Park, the Yellow-breasted chat and Prairie Warbler.
But the species that brings birders to Wyalusing each year is the Yellow-throated Warbler. Wyalusing State Park is the only location in Wisconsin where this species (listed as Endangered in Wisconsin) is sure to be found every year—maybe not by everyone or every time one visits, but it will be found by some birders every year. Recently, it has been observed building a nest and carrying food for its young, proof that the species nests in the park.
It’s no wonder Wyalusing State Park has been voted the state park with the best birding trails.