Discover one of the best places to view the vast migration of flying geese and other water fowl during their fall migration in Wisconsin.
Flying Geese – A Sign of Changing of Seasons in Wisconsin
I’m ever amazed at how uncanny the call of a flock of migrating flying geese signals a change of seasons in Wisconsin.
Each year between mid-August and early November, I’m reminded to listen more intently to the sounds about me, especially for the distinct honking of migrating Canadian Geese.
The start of the season usually begins with a lone call or even two, but the defining moment comes when overhead I hear the honking of a large flocks of geese flying in their V-formation.
DID YOU KNOW? Spring migration of waterbirds occurs between March and April. The timing coincides with the waterways opening up from winter thaws. This migration peaks around the first or second week of May. Check out this Wildlife Report for more information.
Here in Wisconsin, millions of geese migrate south to warmer venues, while at the same time, signaling the changing of the seasons from fall to winter.
Horicon Marsh – Flying Geese Paradise
One of the best places to view the largest congestion of geese and other beautiful waterfowl is to visit Horicon Marsh.
Horicon Marsh is located in located in northern Dodge and southern Fond du Lac counties and about 63 miles or about an hour and a half (give or take) from either Milwaukee or Madison.
This glacial lake is noted as one of the largest freshwater cattail marshes in the United States. It’s made up of over 32,000 acres which includes the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area.
Interestingly, each year over 175-250,000 geese make their annual stop in the Marsh’s lush waterways.
But besides Canadian Geese, you’ll see many other bird species including, ducks, pelicans, and great blue herons, as well as non-bird inhabitants like frogs, snakes, turtles, muskrats and more.
It’s definitely a place rich with wildlife and native plants.
Horicon Marsh Education & Vistor Center
To get your bearings, stop by the Horicon Marsh Education & Visitor Center which is located on the south side of Horicon Marsh on Hwy 28 between Horicon and Mayville, WI.
You’ll find friendly volunteers and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff who will happily answer your questions.
Be sure to also check out the interactive exhibits, craft area and the gift shop to purchase a remembrance of your time in Horicon.
How to Watch Migrating Waterfowl at Horicon
There are several ways to get your fill of everything bird migration. The best ways are by bike, automobile or hiking trail. Use this MAP to help you get the most of your experience of Horicon Marsh.
However, it’s best if you allow enough time to truly enjoy the experience. Pack a picnic and enjoy one of the areas picnic rest spots.
Plan Your Visit
Here is some additional information to plan your visit to view the flying geese at Horicon Marsh:
- The Education & Visitor Center is free, however, you will have to pay for entrance to the Explorium.
- Public use areas in Horicon Marsh are generally open daily from dawn to dusk. But as a rule of thumb be sure to check visiting hours here: Horicon State Wildlife Area – Horicon National Wildlife Refuge
- Dogs are allowed, but you must keep them on a leash and clean up after them.
- To get a closer look at the available waterfowl, check out one of two photo/bird blinds on the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area. They’re available on a first come, first served basis.
- Don’t leave home without your binoculars and bird field guide. But, if you don’t have these, stop by the Friends Visitor Services Desk.
- And, while you’re there, ask for a themed nature backpack.
- Visiting in winter? Yes, you can. And, if there’s enough snow, you can rent snow shoes.
- According to the Department of Natural Resources: the following are not permitted on the refuge: “ATV’s and snowmobiles; collection of plants, berries, seeds, mushrooms, antlers or other artifacts; fireworks; camping; campfires; overnight parking, geocaching, and drones.”
- Want to get your feet wet? Or maybe not…you can rent canoes and kayaks or take a guided boat tour at Horicon Marsh Boat Tours.
- For lodging, restaurants and special events, check out Dodge County Tourism.
For more amazing destinations and tips for traveling both here in Wisconsin and elsewhere, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Travel Section.