Sandhill cranes take flight in Kenosha County.

Capturing Kenosha: The great spring bird migration is underway

With the fresh spring air comes the return of many Wisconsin birds who made their way south for the winter

By Thomas CorraoKENOSHA.COM

After retiring in 2021 with 38 years in public service, Corrao brings a passion for photography with his popular local sunrise and nature photos (available for personal use only). Corrao can be found on Instagram (@straycompasslifeguy) and YouTube (Stray Compass Life Channel).

Springtime in Kenosha is a time when millions of migrating birds head north from their winter homes in the tropics and use Kenosha County as a major stopover.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, this migration spans from February to May, and over 350 varieties of birds migrate annually to reach their breeding grounds. These birds follow food sources in different places at different times of the year, and their journey can span thousands of miles.

A white pelican transiting through Kenosha County.
The red-breasted merganser feeds by diving from the surface to pursue aquatic animals underwater, using serrated bills to capture slippery fish.

Did you know many species of birds migrate at night, especially songbirds? That explains why we don’t see them in the sky during the day. Birds follow different migration routes, some following the Lake Michigan shoreline while others follow rivers like the Fox River. In Kenosha County, Bong State Recreation Area is an excellent spot to witness migratory birds as it boasts wetlands that serve as essential stopovers for many species.

One of the photographers who have captured the beauty of these migratory birds in Kenosha County is Alex Wiezbicki, a resident bird photographer. His photos include bufflehead ducks, hooded mergansers, blue-billed scaup, ospreys, red-breasted mergansers, white pelicans and wood ducks. The songbirds that have arrived in Kenosha County include bluebirds and robins. The orioles and hummingbirds won’t be far behind.

Blue-billed scaup
Bufflehead duck

Far up in the Arctic, there is a huge hatch of insects in the spring each year, providing a good source of protein on which to raise baby birds. This is why birds migrate to these breeding grounds in the north. However, they leave and return yearly because in the winter, there is nothing to eat.

Kenosha County is an ideal place to witness the spring bird migration due to its location along the Lake Michigan shoreline and the Fox River. In addition to the waterfowl and songbirds that are commonly seen during the spring migration, other species such as the snowy owl, which is a rare visitor from the Arctic, occasionally appear in Kenosha County during the winter and early spring.

Other raptors, such as the osprey and the rough-legged hawk, can also be spotted during this time, making for a truly exciting birdwatching experience.

An osprey with a fish.
Drake wood duck

The spring bird migration through Kenosha County is not just a beautiful and inspiring natural event, but also an important reminder of the interconnectedness of our world and the importance of conservation. Many of the species that pass through the region are threatened or endangered, and their survival depends on the availability of healthy habitats and ecosystems.

By learning more about these amazing creatures and taking steps to protect their habitats, we can help ensure that they continue to thrive for generations to come.

Some may ask, if millions of birds are migrating right now, why don’t we see them in the sky? As mentioned earlier, many species of birds migrate at night, especially songbirds. This is why they are not visible during the day. However, with patience and a keen eye, one can spot these incredible creatures during the spring bird migration in Kenosha County.

Hooded merganser