When it comes to exploring the sights and sounds of nature, there’s no place quite like the Midwest. With that said, many of the best bird spots are hidden away from the average adventurer. That’s where we come in!
Join us on a journey through five of the most beautiful birding spots in the Midwest that are sure to capture your curiosity - from wetlands full of waterfowl to overlooks high atop forested hillsides where hawks soar.
You'll want to grab your binoculars because these must-see places offer amazing views accompanied by plenty of chirping and vocal displays. Here are five must-see birding spots in the Midwest!
Loess Hills National Wildlife Rescue, Missouri
Loess Hill National Wildlife Refuge near Mound City holds a special place in the bird migration map, welcoming millions of feathered travelers from Canada and beyond as they pass through.
It is the ideal bird spot for any beginner looking to practice their bird recognition skills- or even just for someone who would like to get a close-up view of Canadian Geese, Ducks, Pelicans, Snow Geese, and Swans passing through the wetlands. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see the majestic bald eagles twice a year! Step onto the observation deck at the entrance of the refuge and get your camera ready because you won’t want to miss this!
After you get your bird-watching fill, take a chance and explore further by venturing around 10 miles loop that surrounds the wetlands. You never know what captivating sights await you!
Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, Kansas
This North American marshland is 20,000 acres of avian glory, potentially hosting up to 90% of the Stilt Sandpiper and Baird's Sandpiper population during migration season.
Throughout the fall and spring seasons, you can expect to see flocks of geese and ducks, with ten or so species even nesting in the area. Night herons, American Bitterns, Least Bitterns, and White-faced Ibis are among some of the birding delights you may encounter while exploring this landmark bird sanctuary!
With another 8,000 acres of the Nature Conservancy located nearby, birders can expect an unforgettable birding escapade. You would want to forget your camera for this one!
Hawk Ridge Observatory, Minnesota
Located perfectly atop Lake Superior with wide-open spaces to watch the birds soar through the sky, birders will have a front-row seat to view some of nature's finest creatures.
Peak birding season comes from mid-August through December, when thousands of raptors migrate south from Canada and other northern regions. This countless migration can allow bird lovers to observe species such as eagles, hawks, kestrels, falcons, vultures, and even owls making their way toward a winter sanctuary. Watch in awe as red-tailed hawks and rough-legged hawks fly overhead.
Adventure awaits birders at Hawk Ridge Observatory between August and December - grab your binoculars and go birding!
Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin
Horicon National Wildlife Refuge offers a wealth of fun and adventure for birders of all experience levels.
Twice a year, over 200,000 Canadian geese and other freshwater birds migrate through the area, taking advantage of its 33,000 acres of beautiful freshwater marshes. You may also get to spot some remarkable critters like muskrats hard at work building their round huts that peek out above the water. On rare occasions, you may even catch a glimpse of an an eagle or heron perched atop one of the huts! Pelicans can also be spotted here, but don't blink — they won't last long as they weave through this gorgeous Refuge for what both migratory and resident birds call home during September and May each year.
With so much exciting avian activity surrounding you, you’ll want to make sure you take advantage of the photo opportunities during your visit!
Starved Rock State Park, Illinois
If you’re looking for a truly wild adventure, Starved Rock State Park is calling you. Get ready to traverse 15 miles deep into some old-growth forests and sandstone bluffs!
The part of the park near Illinois Canyon on route 71 has bountiful bird-sighting opportunities with more than 200 varieties of birdlife. Louisiana Waterthrushes Scarlet Tanagers, Pileated Woodpeckers, and Brown Creepers can all be found. Bald Eagles are a winter sighting not to be missed, and in the fall, it's prime time for warblers who seem to pass through in droves! In addition to spotting birds, catch an alluring sight of over 18 canyons glistening seasonally with lovely waterfalls and ice falls!
So pack your bags - this area is a paradise of natural splendor hidden away in the Midwest!