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Wildlife of the Chequamegon Bay Area


120orangebirdThe Chequamegon Bay area is among the best birding locations in Wisconsin.  Situated along the south shore of Lake Superior, the bay is a unique landscape feature that forms 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.  Abundant public lands and extraordinary natural beauty further provide visitors with unparalleled bird watching opportunities in this exceptional area of northern Wisconsin.
More than 300 bird species have been observed in the Chequamegon Bay area since 1972.  Among these are 35 species of waterfowl, 26 species of raptors, 34 species of shorebirds, 31 species of warblers, and nearly 20 species of sparrows.  The area’s signature species include Piping Plovers (Long Island holds the only nesting pairs in the state), Common Terns (one of only two nesting colonies in the Lake Superior basin occurs here), a small population of Great Gray Owls (esp. in far northern Bayfield County), Sharp-tailed Grouse in the pine barrens, an outstanding migration of raptors during the spring months, and a variety of boreal species at the southern edge of their ranges.  Numerous rarities have been spotted here, the most significant being a Ross’s Gull in 2001 (the only ever observed in Wisconsin).


Did you know the festival tallies an average of 180 bird species each year? our lowest annual total is 174 (2011) and highest is 186 (2016). Since the first festival in 2007, festivalgoers have observed an amazing 243 bird species! Amid the many regulars (like 27 warbler species) some of our rarest finds include Snowy owl (2015), Summer Tanager (2x), N. Mockingbird (2x), Louisiana Waterthrush (only Ashland County record), a pair of Loggerhead Shrikes (2007), and a Black-bellied Whistling Duck (only ~10 state records). But best of all came just last year when a Tropical kingbird was found on a festival trip to Thompson’s West End Park in Washburn, marking the first time this species of southern Arizona and Texas has been confirmed in Wisconsin!

For a list of birds that may be seen during the festival:
PDF download FestivalBirdSeenLists20161.pdf

For up-to-date sightings join the Chequamegon Bay Birding group on Facebook:

For numerous bird photos taken in the area:

For information on birds of the Apostle Islands:

For a full year-round checklist of Chequamegon Bay birds:
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Resource Page


deer120For many of the reasons mentioned about birds above, the Chequamegon Bay area also hosts a tremendous variety of other wildlife.  Mammalian highlights include wolves, bears, fishers, otters, beavers, badgers, and more.  Butterflies and dragonflies, including numerous specialty species, abound during the warmer months.  Numerous wetlands host a deafening chorus of frogs, such as Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs, while reptiles such as Wood Turtles and Northern Ringneck Snakes frequent inland areas.

For a list of Chequamegon Bay wildlife:
PDF download Wildlifelist.pdf

For wildlife photos taken in the area:

For information on area butterflies, see “County Lists” at:

For information on area dragonflies, see “Checklists of Species” at: