Field Trips

To sign up for field trips, see the 2016 SOS Symposium registration form.

Contact for field trips:

Richard Staffen
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources
Natural Heritage Conservation Bureau

Trips for Early Arrivals – Tuesday Afternoon (1:00 – 4:00pm) – Oct. 4, 2016

Fee: No Charge. Advance registration is required.
Shuttles depart from Four Points Sheraton.


Cedarburg Bog – Trip Leaders: The Cedarburg Bog Team.

Cedarburg Bog is the most intact large bog in southeastern Wisconsin and composed of a mosaic of vegetation types. Once part of a large glacial lake, the bog is a relict community – a southern example of the type more commonly found in northern Wisconsin. There are six lakes remaining within the bog, all with varying sizes and depths. The 245-acre Mud Lake is the largest, followed by the 34-acre Long Lake. Surrounding the lakes are areas of emergent aquatic vegetation while just outside this zone is a successional shrub-carr area. Most unusual is a string or “patterned” bog, unique here because it lies far south of its usual range in North America. It is composed of ridges of stunted cedar and tamarack that lie in an open flat sedge mat. There is a very diverse flora and fauna; many that are more common in northern boreal forests and that are at their southern range limit here. Recently, the trip leaders performed weekly migratory bird counts in both spring and fall at Cedarburg Bog – Mud Lake and will share their knowledge of the birds and habitats of this unique site.

Horicon Marsh – Trip Leader : Bill Volkert (Retired WDNR Naturalist at Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area).

Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States. Located in southeast Wisconsin, Horicon Marsh has been formally recognized as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention of the United Nations. The best migration time to see the greatest variety of birds is from mid-April to mid-May and mid-September through October. Over the years, approximately 300 species of birds have been sighted at Horicon Marsh. Among them are many common wetland and upland birds and some of Wisconsin’s rarest bird sightings.

Thursday Morning (6:30 – 9:30am) – Oct. 6, 2016 — Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

Fee: No Charge. Advance registration is required.
*Shuttles at various times from Four Points Sheraton (see below for more details).


6:45-8:00 AM – TWO OPTIONS

Bird Banding Up Close – Trip Leaders: Jennifer Callaghan, Tim Vargo, Brian Russert, Schlitz Audubon staff.

Comprehensive Tour of Schlitz Audubon Habitats – with Experienced staff and volunteers. Includes discussions of bird migration monitoring efforts, restoration efforts for migratory birds, and volunteer program; opportunistic birding along the way.

8:00-9:30 AM – TWO OPTIONS

Viewing of the documentary “The Messenger” followed by birding trip around Schlitz Audubon – Leaders: Schlitz Audubon staff and volunteers.

The movie begins promptly at 8:00 AM and ends at 9:15 AM. Following the movie, go on a quick guided bird hike along Lake Michigan or stay at the Nature Center to visit the gift shop, have coffee on the big porch, or browse the posters from Tuesday evening poster session.

Schlitz Audubon Sampler – Trip Leaders: Schlitz Audubon staff and volunteers, Jennifer Callaghan, Tim Vargo, Brian Russert.

This trip will divide into three smaller groups and rotate around the following stations: Live Raptor Education Demonstration; Bird Banding Demonstration; Birding hikes around Schlitz Audubon.Schlitz Audubon Nature Center protects 185 acres of natural habitat for birds, wildlife, and humans alike. Their land is at the heart of everything they do. It has allowed them to establish a 40-year reputation of excellence in environmental education for people of all ages.

*Thursday morning activities are on site at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. There will be two shuttle service pick-ups provided from hotel to Schlitz Audubon: 6:30am and 7:30am.

**Limited capacity vans can shuttle up to 30 people to Schlitz Audubon at 9:30am for those unable to attend morning activities. Please be sure to sign up for your trip options and shuttle times on the registration form. Bird banding options are dependent on appropriate weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather, nature center tours and birding hikes will be substituted for the banding demonstration.

Friday Afternoon Trips (12:30 – 4:00 PM) – Oct. 7, 2016 – Various Local Trips

Fee: $10.00 (includes box lunch and soft drink; see lunch menu on the Social Programs page).
Shuttles depart from Schlitz Audubon at 12:30 PM with drop offs around 4:00 PM at Four Points Sheraton and at Schlitz Audubon parking lots.


Forest Beach Migratory Preserve – Lead by Shawn Graff, Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, and Andrew Struck, Ozaukee County Planning and Parks.

Located along Lake Michigan in the town of Belgium, Forest Beach Migratory Preserve is 116 acres. This preserve contains a 5-acre hardwood forest with ephemeral (seasonal) ponds, open grassland and prairie, a partially wooded ravine and 5 constructed wetland ponds. The site was previously a golf course but Ozaukee – Washington Land Trust (OWLT) purchased the land because the property’s location and attributes lend itself to supporting migratory birds along the Lake Michigan Flyway. Immediately upon acquisition, OWLT began stewardship activities including invasive and exotic plant control. Today the preserve hosts a “patchwork quilt” of habitats that support all kinds of migratory birds, reptiles and mammals. An interpretive trail system invites visitors to meander through the preserve learning about the restoration efforts and the unique restored habitats.

Urban Ecology Center – Tim Vargo.

The Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee consists of a network of three urban community centers whose programs center around neighborhood-based environmental education, community engagement and Citizen Science research. We will tour the built and natural environments centered around the Riverside Park branch and explore how the UEC community has found unique and fun ways to work towards ecological, social and economic sustainability.

Milwaukee Co Parks/Warnimont Park – Brian Russart/Julia Robson.

Warnimont Park contains a diversity of habitat types (northern forest, lowland forest, upland shrubs, grasslands, clay bank fens, coastal ravines, and rocky beach) and is an important migratory bird stopover site within Milwaukee County. Given its location and available habitat, it is no surprise that the Warnimont eBird hotspot lists 189 species observed within the park or in the adjacent waters of Lake Michigan. The park is easily accessible to birders through the 1.7 mile paved multi-use Oak Leaf Trail or the 3.1 miles of the Forked Aster Hiking Trail that explore the site’s 248 acres.

Milwaukee Lakeshore State Park – Tom Kroeger (WDNR Parks and Recreation Specialist – Lakeshore State Park).

Lakeshore State Park is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and is the only urban state park in Wisconsin. It is a 22 acre park that includes a 1.7 mile trail, canoe and kayak access, fishing, and camping. Year-round bird residents include Canada geese, ring-bill and herring gulls and mallards. Locally-nesting barn and tree swallows fly low over the prairies, dining on flying insects in warm weather. Peregrine falcons and bald eagles are frequent visitors. Several species of sparrows and red-winged blackbirds nest in the developing prairies. Fall and winter bring a wide variety of migrating waterfowl that use the island as a stopover and resting place. Regular winter visitors include scaup, goldeneyes, buffleheads, and mergansers from the north. Snowy owls make a regular winter appearance as well.

Havenwoods State Forest – Havenwoods staff member (Beth Mittermaier/Judy Klippel – WDNR).

Havenwoods is a natural environment even though it is profoundly different from the original wilderness that covered this land. Humans have shaped Havenwoods’ past and they will continue to guide its future. Havenwoods became a state forest in 1980. The forest is now a place where all people can come to take a hike, see migrating birds, attend a nature program and volunteer their time and energy to see that Havenwoods remains a haven for people and wild things.

Transportation to and from Tuesday and Friday field trip sites will be provided in the form of vans or buses for all attendees.

What to Bring to Field Trips:

  1. Binoculars
  2. Warm Clothing
  3. Rain Gear
  4. Hiking Boots