Breeding Bird Studies
Bird Migration in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve
Passerine Migration. The Lakeshore Nature Preserve is perhaps best known for its warbler migration. Between April 25 (some years a little earlier) and May 22 (some years later) 30 or more species of warblers are usually observed in the area, though not usually all at once. Rarer warblers such as Hooded, Cerulean, Yellow-throated, Black-throated Blue, Prothonotary, Mourning, and Connecticut are reported at least once most years. Picnic Point can have spectacular passerine migrant “fall out” in the spring. These unusual weather related events can isolate hundreds or thousands of migrating birds on the Point for several days, often allowing visitors to see 20 or more warbler species (and multiple individuals of many species) in a couple of hours in May. In the fall (August 20-Oct 5), Frautschi Point usually has more song bird migrants, but the Picnic Point Marsh also frequently has good warbler diversity. In the fall the field edge can be productive for woodland migrants. The prairie, garden, and old fields support a diverse set of sparrows, especially from mid-September through October.
Although waterfowl migration was probably better in the past, most waterfowl visit annually. The diving duck numbers and diversity are best late in the fall (after Thanksgiving until freeze up) and in spring immediately after the ice breaks up, when there are fewer boaters. Although University Bay is usually the best area for divers, Second Point Bay (between Picnic Point and Frautschi Point) should also be checked. The Class of 1918 Marsh supports a diverse population of dabbling ducks throughout the fall. In low water years, when the Class of 1918 Marsh is very shallow or dry, the dabbling ducks use the shallower portions of University Bay.
Shorebirds and wading birds can periodically be found at the 1918 Marsh and University Bay, often at Gull Island by Willow Creek. Hawks regularly migrate through and can be best seen from the open areas and the Class of 1918 Marsh.
To learn more about bird migration, some history of the birds of the Preserve, and where and when to find them, see:
The Preserve has been used by bird watchers for many years. For Laura Erickson’s memories of the watching birds in the Preserve, see: Reminiscences of Picnic Point and the Preserve
Finally, take advantage of the Friends bird watching Field trips. Mark your calendar. Also see summaries of recent bird watching field trips with photos.