Tag Archives: Bird Identification

Swans of Iowa (3 Species to Know)

Swans are iconic birds known for their elegance and grace. There are 7 difference species of swans in the world, and only 3 species that breed in North America. All three species can be found in Iowa annually. Here is everything you need to know about these species.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan
Identification

Adult Trumpeter Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Tundra Swans by having a more bell-shaped head, and a more “V-shaped” forehead when looking at the bird head on, compared to the “u-shaped” forehead of the Tundra Swan.

Range

Trumpeter Swans are common year-round in select areas of North America and have a spotty wintering distribution that moves north in the summer to parts of northern North America.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Trumpeter Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Trumpeter Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in large flocks. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan (Michael Schramm/USFWS)
Identification

Adult Tundra Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Trumpeter Swans by having a more slender head and “u-shaped forehead when looking at it head on, compared to a more “V-shaped” forehead and bell-shaped head of the Trumpeter Swan. Tundra Swans will sometimes have yellow markings on their bill, but these should not be used as a sole identification marker since Trumpeter Swans and other swan species can have these as well.

Range

Tundra Swans winter in eastern and western North America and migrate through northern North America to their breeding grounds in the far north.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Tundra Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants, as well as seeds, algae, and grains. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Tundra Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in massive flocks during migration. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan
Identification

Mute Swans are large white birds with a long neck, black legs, orange bill, and black knob on the forehead.

Range

Mute Swans are native to Europe and Asia but have been introduced into parts of North America. Certain populations breed in North America while other individuals may be escaped pets or farm birds.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Mute Swans feed on aquatic vegetation, mussels, worms, small fish, frogs, and other small vertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Mute Swans are normally seen as individual birds or in pairs and tower over smaller geese species. They can be found in marshes, open water lakes, or small urban ponds.

Summary

Swans are certainly impressive and elegant birds. Knowing which swans are likely in your state can be a major help when observing them in the field. Have you seen any of these swans before? Let us know in the comments below, and we hope you found this information helpful!

Be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube channel for videos on all things bird related.

Shrikes of Iowa (2 Species)

Shrikes are unique in that they are predatory songbirds with a hooked bill, and cheery call. Nicknamed “Butcher Birds”, shrikes will hang their prey from thorns or barbed wire fences. There are two species of shrikes that can be found in Iowa, and they both look similar with a few noticeable differences.

Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike
Northern Shrike
Identification

Northern Shrikes look similar to Loggerhead Shrikes, with a gray back, white stomach, black mask, and black and white wings and tail. However, an adult Northern Shrike will have a thinner black mask, and a barred stomach, as opposed to a clean white stomach.

Click here for more information about how to tell Northern Shrikes and Loggerhead Shrikes apart

Range

The Northern Shrike has some year-round range in Alaska, but mostly lives in Northern North America in summer and migrates down to the Northern and Central United States in winter.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Northern Shrikes feed mostly on insects and small vertebrates, but will sometimes also eat carrion. Although they do not have talons, Shrikes will use different tactics to kill their prey, including driving it into the ground or using their hooked bill. Once dead, Shrikes will sometimes wedge the prey onto a thorn or wire.

Where to Find this Bird

Northern Shrikes are found in Iowa in winter significantly more frequently than in other months. They can be found in edge habitat with open landscape nearby, and ample perches, whether manmade or natural.

Watch us search for a Northern Shrike in winter

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike
Identification

The Loggerhead Shrike is a gray bird with a thick, black mask, hooked black bill, gray body, clean white stomach, black and white wings, and black tail feathers. They look similar to the Northern Shrikes, but adults will have a thicker black mask and a clean white stomach, as opposed to the barred stomach of the Northern Shrike. Loggerhead Shrikes also have a more head-heavy appearance.

Watch us search for and find a Loggerhead Shrike in Texas
Range

Loggerhead Shrikes can be found year-round in many parts of Southern North America, and move further north in their breeding season, going as far as parts of Southern Canada. During their nonbreeding season, some individuals may expand further south into areas where they are not normally found year-round.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Loggerhead Shrikes feed mostly on insects, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and birds, but they will also eat organisms that are already dead such as roadkill.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Loggerhead Shrikes in open areas that also have isolated perching structures such as low trees, shrubs, or fences.

Listen to the Loggerhead Shrike Call – Jonathan Jongsma (CC by 3.0)
A juvenile Loggerhead Shrike (Bill Grossmeyer photo)

Which of these species have you seen? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

Shrikes of Illinois (2 Species)

Shrikes are unique in that they are predatory songbirds with a hooked bill, and cheery call. Nicknamed “Butcher Birds”, shrikes will hang their prey from thorns or barbed wire fences. There are two species of shrikes that can be found in Illinois, and they both look similar with a few noticeable differences.

Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike
Northern Shrike
Identification

Northern Shrikes look similar to Loggerhead Shrikes, with a gray back, white stomach, black mask, and black and white wings and tail. However, an adult Northern Shrike will have a thinner black mask, and a barred stomach, as opposed to a clean white stomach.

Click here for more information about how to tell Northern Shrikes and Loggerhead Shrikes apart

Range

The Northern Shrike has some year-round range in Alaska, but mostly lives in Northern North America in summer and migrates down to the Northern and Central United States in winter.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Northern Shrikes feed mostly on insects and small vertebrates, but will sometimes also eat carrion. Although they do not have talons, Shrikes will use different tactics to kill their prey, including driving it into the ground or using their hooked bill. Once dead, Shrikes will sometimes wedge the prey onto a thorn or wire.

Where to Find this Bird

Northern Shrikes are found in Iowa in winter significantly more frequently than in other months. They can be found in edge habitat with open landscape nearby, and ample perches, whether manmade or natural.

Watch us search for a Northern Shrike in winter

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike
Identification

The Loggerhead Shrike is a gray bird with a thick, black mask, hooked black bill, gray body, clean white stomach, black and white wings, and black tail feathers. They look similar to the Northern Shrikes, but adults will have a thicker black mask and a clean white stomach, as opposed to the barred stomach of the Northern Shrike. Loggerhead Shrikes also have a more head-heavy appearance.

Watch us search for and find a Loggerhead Shrike in Texas
Range

Loggerhead Shrikes can be found year-round in many parts of Southern North America, and move further north in their breeding season, going as far as parts of Southern Canada. During their nonbreeding season, some individuals may expand further south into areas where they are not normally found year-round.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Loggerhead Shrikes feed mostly on insects, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and birds, but they will also eat organisms that are already dead such as roadkill.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Loggerhead Shrikes in open areas that also have isolated perching structures such as low trees, shrubs, or fences.

Listen to the Loggerhead Shrike Call – Jonathan Jongsma (CC by 3.0)
A juvenile Loggerhead Shrike (Bill Grossmeyer photo)

Which of these species have you seen? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

Swans of Illinois (3 Species to Know)

Swans are iconic birds known for their elegance and grace. There are 7 difference species of swans in the world, and only 3 species that breed in North America. All three species can be found in Illinois annually. Here is everything you need to know about these species.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan
Identification

Adult Trumpeter Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Tundra Swans by having a more bell-shaped head, and a more “V-shaped” forehead when looking at the bird head on, compared to the “u-shaped” forehead of the Tundra Swan.

Range

Trumpeter Swans are common year-round in select areas of North America and have a spotty wintering distribution that moves north in the summer to parts of northern North America.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Trumpeter Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Trumpeter Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in large flocks. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan (Michael Schramm/USFWS)
Identification

Adult Tundra Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Trumpeter Swans by having a more slender head and “u-shaped forehead when looking at it head on, compared to a more “V-shaped” forehead and bell-shaped head of the Trumpeter Swan. Tundra Swans will sometimes have yellow markings on their bill, but these should not be used as a sole identification marker since Trumpeter Swans and other swan species can have these as well.

Range

Tundra Swans winter in eastern and western North America and migrate through northern North America to their breeding grounds in the far north.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Tundra Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants, as well as seeds, algae, and grains. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Tundra Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in massive flocks during migration. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan
Identification

Mute Swans are large white birds with a long neck, black legs, orange bill, and black knob on the forehead.

Range

Mute Swans are native to Europe and Asia but have been introduced into parts of North America. Certain populations breed in North America while other individuals may be escaped pets or farm birds.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Mute Swans feed on aquatic vegetation, mussels, worms, small fish, frogs, and other small vertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Mute Swans are normally seen as individual birds or in pairs and tower over smaller geese species. They can be found in marshes, open water lakes, or small urban ponds.

Summary

Swans are certainly impressive and elegant birds. Knowing which swans are likely in your state can be a major help when observing them in the field. Have you seen any of these swans before? Let us know in the comments below, and we hope you found this information helpful!

Be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube channel for videos on all things bird related.

Shrikes of Michigan (2 Species)

Shrikes are unique in that they are predatory songbirds with a hooked bill, and cheery call. Nicknamed “Butcher Birds”, shrikes will hang their prey from thorns or barbed wire fences. There are two species of shrikes that can be found in Michigan (one rarer than the other), and they both look similar with a few noticeable differences.

Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike
Northern Shrike
Identification

Northern Shrikes look similar to Loggerhead Shrikes, with a gray back, white stomach, black mask, and black and white wings and tail. However, an adult Northern Shrike will have a thinner black mask, and a barred stomach, as opposed to a clean white stomach.

Click here for more information about how to tell Northern Shrikes and Loggerhead Shrikes apart

Range

The Northern Shrike has some year-round range in Alaska, but mostly lives in Northern North America in summer and migrates down to the Northern and Central United States in winter.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Northern Shrikes feed mostly on insects and small vertebrates, but will sometimes also eat carrion. Although they do not have talons, Shrikes will use different tactics to kill their prey, including driving it into the ground or using their hooked bill. Once dead, Shrikes will sometimes wedge the prey onto a thorn or wire.

Where to Find this Bird

Northern Shrikes are almost exclusively found in Indiana in winter. They can be found in edge habitat with open landscape nearby, and ample perches, whether manmade or natural.

Watch us search for a Northern Shrike in winter

Loggerhead Shrike (Rare)

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike
Identification

The Loggerhead Shrike is a gray bird with a thick, black mask, hooked black bill, gray body, clean white stomach, black and white wings, and black tail feathers. They look similar to the Northern Shrikes, but adults will have a thicker black mask and a clean white stomach, as opposed to the barred stomach of the Northern Shrike. Loggerhead Shrikes also have a more head-heavy appearance.

Watch us search for and find a Loggerhead Shrike in Texas
Range

Loggerhead Shrikes can be found year-round in many parts of Southern North America, and move further north in their breeding season, going as far as parts of Southern Canada. During their nonbreeding season, some individuals may expand further south into areas where they are not normally found year-round.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Loggerhead Shrikes feed mostly on insects, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and birds, but they will also eat organisms that are already dead such as roadkill.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Loggerhead Shrikes in open areas that also have isolated perching structures such as low trees, shrubs, or fences.

Listen to the Loggerhead Shrike Call – Jonathan Jongsma (CC by 3.0)
A juvenile Loggerhead Shrike (Bill Grossmeyer photo)

Which of these species have you seen? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

Swans of Michigan (3 Species to Know)

Swans are iconic birds known for their elegance and grace. There are 7 difference species of swans in the world, and only 3 species that breed in North America. All three species can be found in Michigan annually. Here is everything you need to know about these species.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan
Identification

Adult Trumpeter Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Tundra Swans by having a more bell-shaped head, and a more “V-shaped” forehead when looking at the bird head on, compared to the “u-shaped” forehead of the Tundra Swan.

Range

Trumpeter Swans are common year-round in select areas of North America and have a spotty wintering distribution that moves north in the summer to parts of northern North America.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Trumpeter Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Trumpeter Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in large flocks. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan (Michael Schramm/USFWS)
Identification

Adult Tundra Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Trumpeter Swans by having a more slender head and “u-shaped forehead when looking at it head on, compared to a more “V-shaped” forehead and bell-shaped head of the Trumpeter Swan. Tundra Swans will sometimes have yellow markings on their bill, but these should not be used as a sole identification marker since Trumpeter Swans and other swan species can have these as well.

Range

Tundra Swans winter in eastern and western North America and migrate through northern North America to their breeding grounds in the far north.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Tundra Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants, as well as seeds, algae, and grains. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Tundra Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in massive flocks during migration. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan
Identification

Mute Swans are large white birds with a long neck, black legs, orange bill, and black knob on the forehead.

Range

Mute Swans are native to Europe and Asia but have been introduced into parts of North America. Certain populations breed in North America while other individuals may be escaped pets or farm birds.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Mute Swans feed on aquatic vegetation, mussels, worms, small fish, frogs, and other small vertebrates.

Where to Find this Bird

Mute Swans are normally seen as individual birds or in pairs and tower over smaller geese species. They can be found in marshes, open water lakes, or small urban ponds.

Summary

Swans are certainly impressive and elegant birds. Knowing which swans are likely in your state can be a major help when observing them in the field. Have you seen any of these swans before? Let us know in the comments below, and we hope you found this information helpful!

Be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube channel for videos on all things bird related.

Swans of West Virginia (3 Species to Know)

Swans are iconic birds known for their elegance and grace. But did you know there are only 7 difference species of swans in the world, and only 3 species that breed in North America? Two of these three species can be found in West Virginia annually and one can very rarely be found in the state. Here is everything you need to know about these species.

Trumpeter Swan (Rare)

Trumpeter Swan

Identification

Adult Trumpeter Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Tundra Swans by having a more bell-shaped head, and a more “v-shaped” forehead when looking at the bird head on, compared to the “u-shaped” forehead of the Tundra Swan.

Range

Trumpeter Swans are common year round in select areas of North America and have a spotty wintering distribution that moves north in the summer to parts of northern North America.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Trumpeter Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Find this Bird

Look for Trumpeter Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in large flocks. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan (Michael Schramm/USFWS)

Identification

Adult Tundra Swans are bright white birds with a black bill extending to the eyes. Their legs are black. They can be differentiated from Trumpeter Swans by having a more slender head and “u-shaped forehead when looking at it head on, compared to a more “v-shaped” forehead and bell-shaped head of the Trumpeter Swan. Tundra Swans will sometimes have yellow markings on their bill, but these should not be used as a sole identification marker since Trumpeter Swans and other swan species can have these as well.

Range

Tundra Swans winter in eastern and western North America, and migrate through northern North America to their breeding grounds in the far north.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Tundra Swans feed mostly on aquatic vegetation such as roots and stems of aquatic plants, as well as seeds, algae, and grains. They can often be seen with their heads underwater and backsides up as they feed.

Find this Bird

Look for Tundra Swans in or near water, in marshes, or in open or grassy fields, often in massive flocks during migration. They can also be found in mixed flocks with other swan species.

Mute Swan

Mute Swan
Identification

Mute Swans are large white birds with a long neck, black legs, orange bill, and black knob on the forehead.

Range

Mute Swans are native to Europe and Asia but have been introduced into parts of North America. Certain populations breed in North America while other individuals may be escaped pets or farm birds.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Mute Swans feed on aquatic vegetation, mussels, worms, small fish, frogs, and other small vertebrates.

Find this Bird

Mute Swans are normally seen as individual birds or in pairs and tower over smaller geese species. They can be found in marshes, open water lakes, or small urban ponds.

Summary

Swans are certainly impressive and elegant birds. Knowing which swans are likely in your state can be a major help when observing them in the field. Have you seen any of these swans before? Let us know in the comments below, and we hope you found this information helpful!

Be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube channel for videos on all things bird related.

Shrikes of Oregon (2 Species)

Shrikes are unique in that they are predatory songbirds with a hooked bill, and cheery call. Nicknamed “Butcher Birds”, shrikes will hang their prey from thorns or barbed wire fences. There are two species of shrikes that can be found in Oregon, and they both look similar with a few noticeable differences.

Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike
Northern Shrike
Identification

Northern Shrikes look similar to Loggerhead Shrikes, with a gray back, white stomach, black mask, and black and white wings and tail. However, an adult Northern Shrike will have a thinner black mask, and a barred stomach, as opposed to a clean white stomach.

Click here for more information about how to tell Northern Shrikes and Loggerhead Shrikes apart

Range

The Northern Shrike has some year-round range in Alaska, but mostly lives in Northern North America in summer and migrates down to the Northern and Central United States in winter.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Northern Shrikes feed mostly on insects and small vertebrates, but will sometimes also eat carrion. Although they do not have talons, Shrikes will use different tactics to kill their prey, including driving it into the ground or using their hooked bill. Once dead, Shrikes will sometimes wedge the prey onto a thorn or wire.

Where to Find this Bird

Northern Shrikes are almost exclusively found in Indiana in winter. They can be found in edge habitat with open landscape nearby, and ample perches, whether manmade or natural.

Watch us search for a Northern Shrike in winter

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike
Identification

The Loggerhead Shrike is a gray bird with a thick, black mask, hooked black bill, gray body, clean white stomach, black and white wings, and black tail feathers. They look similar to the Northern Shrikes, but adults will have a thicker black mask and a clean white stomach, as opposed to the barred stomach of the Northern Shrike. Loggerhead Shrikes also have a more head-heavy appearance.

Watch us search for and find a Loggerhead Shrike in Texas
Range

Loggerhead Shrikes can be found year-round in many parts of Southern North America, and move further north in their breeding season, going as far as parts of Southern Canada. During their nonbreeding season, some individuals may expand further south into areas where they are not normally found year-round.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Loggerhead Shrikes feed mostly on insects, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and birds, but they will also eat organisms that are already dead such as roadkill.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Loggerhead Shrikes in open areas that also have isolated perching structures such as low trees, shrubs, or fences.

Listen to the Loggerhead Shrike Call – Jonathan Jongsma (CC by 3.0)
A juvenile Loggerhead Shrike (Bill Grossmeyer photo)

Which of these species have you seen? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

Shrikes of West Virginia (2 Species)

Shrikes are unique in that they are predatory songbirds with a hooked bill, and cheery call. Nicknamed “Butcher Birds”, shrikes will hang their prey from thorns or barbed wire fences. There are two species of shrikes that can be found in West Virginia (one rarer than the other), and they both look similar with a few noticeable differences.

Northern Shrike (Uncommon)

Northern Shrike
Northern Shrike
Identification

Northern Shrikes look similar to Loggerhead Shrikes, with a gray back, white stomach, black mask, and black and white wings and tail. However, an adult Northern Shrike will have a thinner black mask, and a barred stomach, as opposed to a clean white stomach.

Click here for more information about how to tell Northern Shrikes and Loggerhead Shrikes apart

Range

The Northern Shrike has some year-round range in Alaska, but mostly lives in Northern North America in summer and migrates down to the Northern and Central United States in winter.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Northern Shrikes feed mostly on insects and small vertebrates, but will sometimes also eat carrion. Although they do not have talons, Shrikes will use different tactics to kill their prey, including driving it into the ground or using their hooked bill. Once dead, Shrikes will sometimes wedge the prey onto a thorn or wire.

Where to Find this Bird

Northern Shrikes are almost exclusively found in Indiana in winter. They can be found in edge habitat with open landscape nearby, and ample perches, whether manmade or natural.

Watch us search for a Northern Shrike in winter

Loggerhead Shrike (Rare)

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike
Identification

The Loggerhead Shrike is a gray bird with a thick, black mask, hooked black bill, gray body, clean white stomach, black and white wings, and black tail feathers. They look similar to the Northern Shrikes, but adults will have a thicker black mask and a clean white stomach, as opposed to the barred stomach of the Northern Shrike. Loggerhead Shrikes also have a more head-heavy appearance.

Watch us search for and find a Loggerhead Shrike in Texas
Range

Loggerhead Shrikes can be found year-round in many parts of Southern North America, and move further north in their breeding season, going as far as parts of Southern Canada. During their nonbreeding season, some individuals may expand further south into areas where they are not normally found year-round.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Loggerhead Shrikes feed mostly on insects, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and birds, but they will also eat organisms that are already dead such as roadkill.

Where to Find this Bird

Look for Loggerhead Shrikes in open areas that also have isolated perching structures such as low trees, shrubs, or fences.

Listen to the Loggerhead Shrike Call – Jonathan Jongsma (CC by 3.0)
A juvenile Loggerhead Shrike (Bill Grossmeyer photo)

Which of these species have you seen? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

How Did WILD Flamingos End Up in Wisconsin?

One of the most exciting moments in birding, is hearing news that a rare bird is nearby, and being able to try and see it. This was the case, when news broke that American Flamingos had made their way to Wisconsin, which was improbable, but not impossible. Earlier in the year, hurricane Idalia had pushed American Flamingos into the United States from further south, and they had been seen in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Louisiana, and more. Although it was a possibility that they could show up in the badger state, it didn’t seem likely based on how far northwest Wisconsin is, until it actually happened. The Flamingos had been spotted on the coast of Lake Michigan in a town called Port Washington, which is just north of Milwaukee.

American Flamingo Range Map

I started the drive to Port Washington, and picked up my friend Nathaniel along the way. As we got closer we counted down the minutes until we would have a chance of seeing wild flamingos on Lake Michigan. 

We arrived to a busy parking lot, and an array of birders and non-birders taking in the strange sight of these unique birds. As we laid eyes on them it almost seemed unbelievable. With so many people, it felt like one of the festivals the Lake Michigan coast is known for, but this time not Summerfest, rather Flamingo Fest.

The 5 Wisconsin Flamingos

Adult American Flamingos are pink in color with black wingtips, a distinctive downturned bill, a long neck, and long legs. Flamingos are born gray and white, and only get their pink coloration from their diet of algae, shrimp, and other small crustaceans, after about 2 years. Adults are around 5 feet tall and Flamingos are normally seen in groups. Their native range extends from the Caribbean to northern South America, and they are often seen wading in the shallow waters of saltwater or brackish coasts. When feeding they will drop their head into the water and sway it from side to side, pumping water in and out of their bill to filter out food. This action may be accompanied by foot stomping, in order to bring more food to the surface. In the Wisconsin group, there were two younger birds still showing their gray color, which was quite a contrast in comparison to the pink adult birds. 

A Young American Flamingo Displaying Gray Coloration

In-between capturing photos and videos and appreciating this incredible site, we also caught up with some of our other friends who had also made the trip to see the birds. The crowd continued to grow and many of the local news outlets also showed up to cover the story. 

My Video About Seeing Wild Flamingos In Wisconsin

Eventually, after watching the Flamingos for about 2 and 1/2 hours, and talking to multiple news outlets, we decided to head out, feeling really excited about seeing the Flamingos in Port Washington. 

Close-up of an American Flamingo

Later in the day, it was reported that the Flamingos eventually flew south, but a number of days later they were re-found at Petenwell Lake in Wisconsin. As the weather cools, it is hoped that their instincts will kick in and they will fly south, hopefully to a warmer climate with an abundance of food. As of now, they seem to be in good health and are finding enough to eat. If they do not leave as winter approaches, an attempt will likely be made to catch and relocate them. The appearance of these birds has made a huge impact on the birding and non-birding community, and hopefully seeing them will inspire more people to learn about birds and bird conservation. Where do you think Flamingos will show up next? Let us know in the comments below!