BIRDING In Alma
A Wisconsin Birding Hot Spot On The "Mississippi Flyway"

American White Pelicans On Their Fall Migration Through Alma, Wisconsin
Shared by K C Goodman With Alma Area Chamber Of Commerce


ALMA VISITOR CENTER

118 N Main Street, Alma, Wisconsin
608-685-3303 | info@almawisconsin.com

ALMA is well known for bald eagles, tundra swans, herons and pelicans.  Rieck's Lake offers opportunities to view migrating tundra swans.  From December through February, wintering bald eagles congregate around Lock & Dam #4 to feed and are seen sitting on the ice.

 

There are many great opportunities for birding photographs so take your camera everywhere ... you never know what you'll find in your travels.  All the photos on this web page were taken in our area by local amateur photographers.

 

Most birding is personal and private, but there are group birding opportunities sponsored by Wings Over Alma Nature & Art Center throughout the year: Birding By Mini Train  

 

For up-to-date information on the birds in Alma while you are visiting, contact Wings Over Alma at 608-685-3303 or visit their website:at www.wingsoveralma.org

The Upper Mississippi River serves as a major flyway for waterfowl, bald eagles abound and you may get a rare glimpse of some of Wisconsin's endangered species such as the trumpeter swan or the peregrine falcon. 

 

On June 1, 2009 the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge was designated a Wetland of International Importance. The 27th US wetland to receive this designation and the 2nd in Wisconsin.

UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER NATIONAL WILDLIFE & FISH REFUGE
This Refuge was established by an Act of Congress on June 7, 1924, "as a refuge and breeding place for migratory birds, fish, other wildlife, and plants."  The north end begins at the confluence of the Mississippi and Chippewa rivers near Wabasha, Minnesota and the south end is near Rock Island, Illinois. Just over 240,000 acres of wooded islands, marshes, and backwaters comprise the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge.  Created The Refuge is celebrating it's 88th anniversary and the idea and dream of the Refuge still lives.  The 240,000-acre refuge winding through 4 states for 261 miles provides a home for hundreds of species of fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and native plants.  It is a place where the rare and uncommon seem common place. 

WINGS OVER ALMA NATURE CENTER
The Center offers a 50-foot viewing deck overlooking the Mississippi River and Lock & Dam 4.  Spotting scopes and binoculars are available for your use where you can view bald eagles, a variety of waterfowl & birdlife, as well as the activity on the Great Alma Fishing Float.
  Winter is a favorite time for bald eagle viewing from the deck.  The eagles gather just below the dam on the ice for fish and the Center has had seasons with hundreds of bald eagles at one time.

 

RIECK'S LAKE PARK
Two miles north of Alma is Rieck's Lake Park offering two wildlife observation decks, camping and open-roofed shelters for family gatherings.   Rieck's Lake has often been a favorite for tundra swans along the Mississippi River Flyway as they migrate in the fall and spring.  Wings Over Alma provides a seasonal count of tundra swans and their locations during swan season (late October to early November).  Information posted at www.wingsoveralma.org or call the Center at 608-685-3303.

DRIVING THE BACK ROADS OF BUFFALO COUNTY
Throughout the year, driving the back roads of Buffalo
County, Wisconsin can be a rewarding experience for viewing wildlife and birding.  Western Buffalo County is ranked 17th among the top 50 birding spots in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Society for Ornothology.  Wild turkeys, pheasants, sandhill cranes, red-tail hawks, bald eagles, golden eagles, canada geese and several varieties of ducks can be seen throughout the county.

 

The National Eagle Center has released rehabilitated golden eagles in Buffalo County with radio tracking and they continue to return to the county during their migration.  A Golden Eagle survey is held in Buffalo County each year.

GREAT WISCONSIN BIRDING &

NATURE TRAIL  
The Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail is a mapped auto trail that reaches into every area of Wisconsin, including Buffalo County.  Full-color viewing guides with maps and descriptions of every site leads the nature traveler to warblers, shorebirds, eagles, loons, cranes and all manner of mammals found in some of the state's premier wildlife venues.  

Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative Birding Guides 

TIFFANY WILDLIFE  STATE NATURAL AREA
Located 16 miles north of Alma is Tiffany Wildlife State Natural Area (also known as Tiffany Bottoms).  This 717-acre portion of the most extensive river delta in the Midwest contains a representative portion of the larger Tiffany Bottoms floodplain forest. Flowing into the Chippewa River and the Mississippi River, the Bottoms abound in wildlife and contain rare and uncommon birds such as red-shouldered hawk, great egret, cerulean warbler, prothonotory warbler, great-blue heron, pileated woodpecker, and blue-gray gnatcatcher.  Tiffany Bottoms is owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and was designated a State Natural Area in 1958.  It is also included as part of the designation of the Upper Mississippi River as a Wetland of International Importance.  The Bottoms can be accessed from all four sides, including State Hwy35 & State Hwy 25.
BIG SWAMP WILDLIFE AREA
Big Swamp Wildlife Area is an 844-acre property in Buffalo County.  Find it 5 Miles west of Mondovi south of Hwy 10 and approximately 25 miles from Alma.  Currently access is only available from County Hwy A on the south side of the property.  The property consists of upland hardwoods and marsh.   Big Swamp Wildlife Area is owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.   Acquisition began on the property in 1956 with the goal of protecting winter pheasant cover for pheasants and has since grown to 844 acres in size.  Management on the property is limited as much of the acreage consists of tamarack swamp and lowlands, although there is a mix of upland hardwoods on the property.  The property is surrounded by private lands so it is important that users know and respect the property boundaries.

MERRICK STATE PARK
Located along the lazy Mississippi River north of Fountain City and about 10 miles from Alma, the 322-acre Merrick State Park is popular with anglers and boaters. The marshy backwaters are home for egrets, herons, muskrats and otters.   Merrick State Park is owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and has been a park since 1919 when the land was donated.   It is also included as part of the recent designation of the
Upper Mississippi River as a Wetland of International Importance.

WHITMAN DAM WILDLIFE AREA
Whitman Dam Wildlife Area is a 2253-acre property in Buffalo County.  Find it 3 miles southeast of Cochrane across the main river channel from Merrick State Park.  Access available from Merrick State Park or at the end of Whitman Dam Road west of Kamrowski Road.  The property consists of floodplain forest and marshland.  
Whitman Dam Wildlife Area was established in 1965 from land donated to the state of Wisconsin for Merrick State Park in 1919.   It is also included as part of the recent designation of the Upper Mississippi River as a Wetland of International Importance. 

For Additional Information


Alma Area Chamber of Commerce
Visitor Center at Wings Over Alma

118 N Main Street
Alma, Wisconsin 54610, USA


Phone:  608-685-3303
Email:   
info@almawisconsin.com


Birding Photos Courtesy of K C Goodman