View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
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Wisconsin is now mostly snow free, though some areas of the far north received a dusting to a couple of inches earlier this week. Lakes are open throughout southern Wisconsin and are opening in the central part of the state. Northwoods lakes still have ice cover but, conditions are deteriorating quickly and the ice is extremely soft.
Despite somewhat still damp conditions, 36 wildfires were reported in the last week, half of which were caused by debris burning. Fire danger ranged from Low to High across the state. Burning permits were suspended a few days in areas where the fire danger was High. Rain is forecast through the weekend, which will lower fire danger temporarily, but as things dry out, fire danger will increase.
Most trails are now open only to hiking; most mountain bike trails are closed to prevent rutting in the soft soil, and bikers are asked to refrain from riding the limestone-screened rail-trails if the surface is soft which can leave deep ruts when the trails dry out.
The Menominee River has been producing some nice brown trout and a few walleye mainly below the Hattie Street Dam down to Stephenson Island in Marinette. The boat launches and rivers along the west shore are mostly still iced in. All of the landings on the bay side of Door County are still frozen shut. The bay itself is fairly open with some ice chunks out on the water and some ice shoves forming along shore. Along the lake, the Kewaunee Harbor is open and anglers took advantage of the calm weather last weekend out on the lake, mainly trolling close to shore for brown trout.
Lake Michigan tributaries are open but low flows are being reported on most rivers and the steelhead run so far has been slow. A few steelhead were reported from the Branch, Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Root rivers. The Port Washington harbor has been producing a fair amount of brown trout, with the occasional steelhead.
Anglers were out in droves last weekend on the Fox River in hopes of catching some early season walleye. Anglers were fishing both from shore with moderate success and many anglers also took to their boats and lined the Fox fishing the middle of the river.
Male turkeys can be seen fanned out and displaying as the breeding season in nearing. Leftover spring turkey permits went on sale Monday and the licensing center processed 13,000 permits that day. All remaining leftover permits go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 25.
After an early start, the migration timeline has returned to a more average schedule. Recent arrivals include tree swallows, eastern phoebes, American white pelicans, and common loon. Marshes and shallow lakes are hosting a wide variety of dabbling and diving ducks. Tundra swans made a big push this week as well. American woodcock are displaying on territory, so this is a great time to get out and check out the timberdoodles.
Twenty-eight Kentucky elk have arrived at their new home in the Flambeau River State Forest in Sawyer County. The elk will be enclosed in a 7-acre holding pen to satisfy quarantine and animal health testing requirements and to allow the elk to become familiar with their new surroundings. The area surrounding the holding pen is closed to the public during this period and people are asked to avoid the general vicinity of the closed area.
Maple sap collection seems to be in full swing with buckets and bags hanging in many woodlots right now. Other signs of spring were spring peepers being heard in wetlands this week and skunk cabbage emerging in the south.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Sunday, March 26, 2017
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In the past week, 36 wildfires burned 44 acres in DNR protection areas. Half the fires were caused by debris burning. One building was destroyed on a small Douglas County wildfire. Fire danger ranged from Low to High across the state. Burning permits were suspended a few days in areas where the fire danger was High. A couple days of rain are predicted, which will lower the fire danger temporarily. As we dry out, expect fire danger to increase. There is plenty of dead grass and fallen leaves on the land that makes it easy for a wildfire to start and spread. Stay apprised of fire weather conditions by checking the DNR fire danger web page each day after 11 a.m. Search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "'fire." If you're planning on burning leaves and brush as part of your spring clean-up routine, first check the fire danger web page to find out if a permit is required where you want to burn. Then be sure to check the day's fire danger and burning permit restrictions before lighting that match. People are asked to use extra caution when disposing of ash from fireplaces and wood heaters - make sure they are completely cold to the touch before dumping outdoors. Embers can remain smoldering in ash for long periods of time. It's best to spread the ash over bare ground, such as a garden space, and spray with water to make sure any embers are extinguished.
Firewise Tip: Remove leaves and other debris that has accumulated next to buildings, in lawns, and on and under decks. Take special care to clean out dead leaves from evergreen shrubs near buildings. Compost these materials or take to a leaf collection site. - Jolene Ackerman, wildland urban interface coordinator, Madison
After an early start, the migration timeline has returned to a more average schedule of late. Recent arrivals to the southern part of the state include tree swallows, eastern phoebes, chipping sparrows, a few American white pelicans, and common loon. Song sparrows, meadowlarks, bluebirds, and other short-distance migrants also are being seen. Waterfowl continue to steal the show there; however, as most marshes and shallow lakes are hosting a wide variety of dabbling and diving ducks. Tundra swans made a big push this week as well, especially in eastern Wisconsin, while greater white-fronted, snow, and Ross's geese remain in good numbers. Open water is harder to find in northern tier counties, though where present trumpeter swans, goldeneyes, hooded mergansers, pintail, bufflehead, and other waterfowl species are being seen. The first American woodcock have reached the Lake Superior shore, while many are on territory in the southern half of the state. Head out to brushy field edges at dawn or dusk to witness their fascination flight displays! Ruffed grouse are drumming and wild turkeys gobbling statewide now. Small numbers of American robins, red-winged blackbirds, and common grackles have reached the north woods, though winter holds on tight there with observations of Bohemian waxwings, evening grosbeaks, white-winged crossbills, common redpolls, pine siskins, and purple finches. Male American goldfinches are becoming patchy yellow in color as they molt into their bright breeding-season plumage. On the raptor front, great horned owls have nestlings now, bald eagles are on eggs, while both turkey vultures and peregrine falcons are returning statewide. Late March and early April are great for raptor migration so look up, especially on sunny south wind days. Help us track the migration and find out what others are seeing at www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Sugar River Wetlands SNA: March 25, 9 a.m. - noon. Help the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association restore the Sugar River Wetlands State Natural Area during our series of "fourth Saturdays" winter volunteer work days. Volunteers will be cutting and burning (if possible) invasive species like buckthorn, honeysuckle and more to promote the growth of native plant species. It promises to be rewarding, fun, and a great way to experience the outdoors during the winter. Refreshments including hot chocolate and coffee will be available to fuel you through the morning. No skills needed you will be trained onsite.
Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - The calendar says spring is here, but winter isn't giving up that easily. Most of our snow was gone, but we got some new snow overnight. Freezing rain is in the forecast for the next few days. Temperatures are typical for this time of year, but it sure feels cold. Daytime highs have been in the 30s and 40s and nighttime temps have generally been in the 20s. Don't put away that winter coat quite yet. The spring time can be one of the best times to get into the woods. It is much easier, without the cover of leaves, to see birds and other tree dwellers as well as their old nests and nests that are being constructed. Eagles can be seen fishing on the Brule. They have paired up and are nesting. Great horned owls are also nesting and likely sitting on eggs, keeping them warm on these cold and wet spring days and nights. As of today, northwestern Wisconsin counties are at Fire Danger levels of Low to Moderate. However, that can danger level can change quickly if the area experiences a day or two of sun, low humidity and windy conditions. If you have debris or brush to burn, get a burning permit and follow the rules of the day. Spring Steelhead fishing opens on Saturday for the lower stretch of the Brule River--from Highway 2 downstream to Lake Superior. River flow and gauge height conditions are available at the USGS website. The 2017-2018 Hook and Line Fishing Regulations and 2017-2018 Trout Fishing Regulations are available on the DNR website. Please be sure to know and follow the Rules that apply to you. It's not too early to start planning your spring and summer vacations. The campgrounds at Bois Brule and Copper Range are open year-round. You can reserve a campsite at our campgrounds from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend at ReserveAmerica.com. Search for "Brule River State Forest." Not all campsites are reservable--there are many available on a first-come-first-served basis. Prior to Memorial Day and after Labor Day, all the sites are available as first-come-first-served. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - The snow depth is patchy in the woods and the landscape beyond the trees is nearly snowless. With the warm temperatures of this week to come, snow may be gone. The ice on the lakes is extremely dangerous at this point and extreme caution should be used. Snowshoe hare coats began to turn brown, the male red-winged blackbirds return, the river otters give birth, the grouse start drumming and the turkeys start strutting and gobbling. Some of the geese and ducks are heading north and finding open water patches. Deer and elk have been busy in the logged areas feeding on down tree branches and brush. The sap is running, and maple sugar collectors have been gathering and processing. This week should be a good sap running week with the cold nights and the warm days. Pussy willows have begun budding. Bird activity is increasing, so enjoy the easy viewing before leaf-on and take extra precautions with outdoor fires. The weather forecast for this week has a chance of, rain/freezing Friday with a high of 45 and a low of 29. Saturday, a slight chance of snow/rain becoming partly sunny with a high near 42 and a low of 25. Sunday, sunny with a high near 45 and a low near 29. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest -
Stop and go seems to describe the season at the moment. Spring tempts the north, sap starts to run, then winter grabs back at us with single digit temperatures. The snow pack that is in the woods is very hard, making for great long walks to enjoy the silent landscape in the forest. As we await the signs of pussy willows, grouse drumming, woodcock peenting and spring migrant songs, at least our resident chickadees and nuthatches brighten our days with song! - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Langlade County - Signs of spring are beginning to show up. Robins, red-winged blackbirds, woodcock, ducks, geese and sand hill cranes have been observed across the area. Male turkeys can be seen fanned out and displaying as the breeding season in nearing. White-tailed deer are moving out their winter range feeding in surrounding farm fields. - Eric J. Borchert, wildlife technician, Antigo
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of March 15-18. Winter's strangle hold continues to frustrate anglers with cool days and cold nights. Boat landings have been slow to open. Two landings are open on the Oconto River, the Municipal landing and the Landing at Breakwater Park in Oconto County, and the Municipal Ramp and Klingsborns Landing on the Peshtigo River. Water levels are low for this time of the year due to a warm February and early March. We need rain.
Marinette County - Anglers report brown trout being caught by the dam in Peshtigo using stick baits and spinners. A few boaters are using the ramp at the municipal garage in Peshtigo and report no fish as of yet. The Menominee River has been producing some nice brown trout and a few walleye mainly below the Hattie Street Dam down to Stephenson Island, large stick baits are working well. The lower Menominee River remains ice covered with the boat landings still froze in. Very little water is being released from the Hattie Street Dam. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Fishing has been slow at the dam at Stiles with anglers reporting a few trout and the occasional walleye being caught using jigs and plastic or stick baits. The only other angling activity is at the mouth of the Oconto River. No reports of fish as of yet. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - The launches and rivers along the west shore were still iced in as of Sunday March 19. The Suamico River showed no open water yet and the ice was still covering the launch. Duck Creek launch at the VFW was still iced in but the main river channel had large open areas, the launch on W Deerfield was still frozen in with no signs of melting ice yet. The two access points on Longtail are still frozen pretty solid as well. Geano Beach proved to be the most promising with only the launch area still seeing ice. The bay was fairly open with some ice chunks out on the water and some ice shoves forming along shore. No anglers were seen fishing this week. The Fox River saw droves of anglers this weekend in hopes of catching some early season walleyes. Anglers fishing from shore at Voyager Park were having moderate success for walleyes off the wall. Those fishing with live bait proved a better catch than those throwing rapalas and shad raps. Many anglers also took to their boats and lined the Fox fishing the middle of the river from the dam in De Pere to the 172 bridge and beyond. Anglers had better success landing a fish as the week went on but many reported fish under 18 inches. Again, those fishing live bait had a higher catch rate than those using artificial. Anglers reported water temperatures still in the low to mid 30s. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - All landings Green Bay side are frozen shut. Rowley Bay, Moonlit Bay and Baileys Harbor landings are open. A few stubborn fishermen have been breaking the ice at Sawyer Park and getting out into the channel. The docks at Sawyer Park are now in. Expect action for browns to pick up once anglers are able to get out. Steelhead action in local streams has been slow with cold weather and low water levels. More rain and warmer weather is needed to bring more steelhead up from the lake. - Ben Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - Anglers took advantage of the nice calm weather this weekend out on the lake and mainly trolling close to shore for brown trout. Late in the week anglers were doing well close to shore with limits for browns being reported. Not many anglers were seen accessing the Ahnapee River or Stoney Creek this weekend and most anglers reported seeing very few steelhead in the Rivers most likely due to very low water conditions. Fishing pressure has increased over the past week due to the recent mild temperatures and calm winds. Boats have been catching brown trout trolling the shoreline, having the most success in warmer pockets of water. Anglers were catching most fish in less than 15 feet of water on shallow diving crank baits. Water temperatures on the Kewaunee River remain close to freezing and the water level is still low, but anglers are still catching a few steelhead on spawn sacs and wax worms. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - Overall, fishing quality has been low due to poor weather conditions throughout the week and weekend. In Two Rivers, the middle of the week showed very little action at the East and West Twin Rivers. Shoto Dam on the West Twin River had low water levels during the beginning of the week, which made fishing more difficult; however, rainbow trout were still being pulled. Toward the end of the weekend water levels had risen and more anglers were working the dam. The Mishicot Dam area on the East Twin River was still covered with ice until the end of the weekend. A few brown and rainbow trout were caught throughout the week. Brown trout were biting on the Two Rivers piers and harbor, especially near Seagull Marina. Weather made for very choppy water and strong winds along the lakeshore during the weekend. In Manitowoc, a few rainbow trout were pulled near Highway 10 on the Branch River and Manitowoc River. Temperature of the Manitowoc River was ranging between 33 and 38 degrees during the week. Rainbow trout were being caught using spawn sacs under a bobber. Water levels along Cato Falls is rising, and allowing for favorable fishing conditions. There was not much action along the lake shore in Manitowoc. Weather conditions continued to influence the amount of time spent fishing. - Mallary Schenian, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - The calendar indicates spring is here, and the wildlife in the area agree. Here are some of the things observed this week:mourning doves on nests, large numbers of robins, small groups of sandhill cranes, red-winged blackbirds, great-blue herons, reports of nesting goshawks, and even a reported woodcock in the Middle Inlet area. Inland lakes are still ice-covered but access to the lakes is poor. The Peshtigo and Menominee rivers are both open in many stretches. We have not yet seen any sign of spring from the plant world--but we are still getting some single digit low temps, so the plants may be dormant for a while yet. Maple sap collection seems to be in full swing with buckets and bags hanging in many woodlots right now. As spring moves along, migrating birds will begin to show up in bigger numbers. If you have been feeding birds all winter, it might be a good time to let the feeders run empty and then clean them with a 10 percent bleach solution. This will help prevent disease transmission to birds that start showing up when the weather warms. During warm weather it is also good practice to bleach those feeders periodically. We are one month away from the youth turkey hunt weekend but some flocks of turkeys seem to already be breaking up into smaller groups. Lack of snow makes it easier for these birds to disperse and for deer to get around. We have been seeing quite a few road side deer lately—please drive cautiously. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Marinette County is still in the early spring transition. Ice still covers most of the inland lakes; however, conditions are deteriorating quickly and the ice is extremely soft. All trail systems in Marinette County are officially closed to all motorized vehicle travel until further notice. The trail system closes during the spring thaw to reduce damage to the trails. As a reminder, black bears are beginning to emerge from their dens. To reduce human/bear conflicts, please consider removing all bird feeders, pet food, or other accessible food sources that could attract bears to your residence. - Tim Werner, conservation warden, Marinette
Governor Thompson State Park - Now is a great time for hiking, not too hot, no bugs and the leaves are off the trees showing you all of the landscape. You might still find areas of the trails that are snow and ice covered but most of the trails are clear. The South Bay Landing on Caldron Falls is still iced in and you cannot launch a boat at this time. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Peninsula State Park - Trails are in poor condition due to freeze/thaw conditions. Shore Road is completely open through the park, but the interior roads remain closed.
Whitefish Dunes State Park - All trails are open to hiking. The Red, Yellow and Green trails still have patches of ice and standing water, and can be muddy. The best trails at this time for hikers are the Black Trail (2.5-mile loop) and the beach shoreline (1.5 miles). Water levels are typically at the lowest levels right now and the beach is a great place to hike. Pets are allowed on all sections of the beach until April 1 as long as they are on a leash. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Both wood ducks and woodcock have arrived. Some reports of turkeys displaying. Most area lakes have some ice in center of lake but edges are wide open. Water levels on trout streams look perfect for fishing, if one could draw a warm day, would be nice to go catch -n- release fishing. Green-up has not begun; trees are generally not breaking bud yet. Waushara county south has no snow or frost left in ground, Waupaca north has pockets of snow left on north slopes and frost in some areas yet. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - The weekend is going to be a damp one. It looks like temperatures, especially the lows, will finally stay above freezing, but with wind and rain it will still feel pretty chilly. With nearly all of the snow gone and some lakes opened up people are thinking fishing. There have been few that have ventured out at this point, so any success is a mystery. The bare ground does make it easier for hikes, shed hunting, and starting to scout for spring turkeys. With the wet ground it is a great time to brush up on tracking or even take someone new out to learn what all the tracks are. Spring migration is in full swing with waterfowl pairing up, song birds starting to sing on the sunny mornings, owl chicks are hatching any day now, and swans are starting to fly through the area on their way to open water and their traditional nesting sites. Bears are also making their presence known by causing the first bit of damage in the county. Staff have had reports of a couple of bird feeders and even a couple of bee hives knocked over. This can be a reminder to all at the first sign of bears snooping around to remove any outdoor feed--especially high fat bird feed--that will be an attractant. There is little that is more accessible in the woods right now of higher value for bears than what is in your bird feeders. If you remove them at night or completely for a few days, the bear will most likely move on. Bundle up and grab your rain gear; it is still a neat time of year to be out and about! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - As of Sunday March 19, there is no skiing due to lack of snow. All trails are currently open for hiking. The mountain bike trails are also currently closed to the high amount of mud.- Robby Degraff, visitor services associate
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - The Sheboygan River has been producing a few steelhead, primarily around the Kohler Dam area, but fish can be found right now throughout the river. Fish can be caught on spawn under a bobber or drifted with a three-way rig on the bottom. Fishing pressure on the Pigeon River has been fairly low, but there are some steelhead to be found. Most anglers have been using spawn under bobbers. The harbor area has seen little effort lately, but typically brown trout or steelhead can both be found around the harbor or even off the beaches. Typical baits are spoons or small crankbaits for either casting or trolling.
Ozaukee County - The Port Washington harbor has been producing a fair amount of brown trout as of late, with the occasional steelhead. Anglers have been using spawn sacs on the bottom near the power plant discharge or casting jigs with plastic minnows, various spoons, or crankbaits throughout the harbor. The North Pier is currently undergoing construction in the area known as "the catwalk" at the very beginning of the pier and will be closed until the end of June. No boats were interviewed this past week, but anglers often troll the harbor or shallow along the beaches to target the brown trout this time of year. Sauk Creek has become very low and clear this past week, but a few steelhead are still being caught. Spawn Sacs under a bobber or casting spoons have both caught a few fish in the creek.
Racine County - Only a few anglers were fishing in the harbor this week. Only one fish was reported caught. The angler caught a brown trout on a tube jig with a piece of shrimp. The Root River is currently flowing at 333cfs. The water is much more turbid from the melting snow runoff, reducing visibility to about 12 inches. Overall fishing has slowed down with only a few steelhead being caught. The water temperature upstream and downstream of the steelhead facility is 40 degrees. There was not as much angling pressure upstream of the Steelhead Facility this week. Most anglers have concentrated their efforts at Quarry Lake Park. Only a few fish were reported caught. Anglers that had success reported catching fish on hair jigs or tube jigs tipped with a wax worm. The colors that seemed to work best were black/chartreuse, pink/white, and Chartreuse/white. One angler reported catching fish on orange spawn sacs. More anglers chose to focus their efforts downstream of the facility, and mainly at Lincoln Park and Island Park. Not many fish were reported caught. The anglers that did catch fish reported that they had the most success with a single bead, or spawn sacs. A few anglers also caught fish on white tube jigs tipped with a wax worm. A couple of brown trout were reported caught as well.
Kenosha County - Only one angler was interviewed this week. The angler reported catching one brown trout on orange spawn on the bottom. Only a few anglers were fishing in the harbor this week. Only one fish was reported caught. The angler caught a brown trout on a chrome/blue spoon. One angler was interviewed fishing from the beach near the mouth of the Pike River but did not report catching anything.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - This week on the Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area the floating boat ramps at the marsh dam were lowered back into the water, allowing small boats passage over the dam, and the floating cattail debris barrier was reinstalled above the dam. The bottom flow radial gate at the dam was left open 12 inches to allow northern pike spawning and to continue spring runoff passage. About 200 tundra swans were seen in the Theresa Marsh main pool above the dam. We also saw quite a few sandhill cranes, Canada geese, mallards, shovelers and other waterfowl, and a pair of marsh hawks. A bald eagle was seen perched in a tree near the bridge along Highway 28 about a half mile west of Highway 41. Wildlife viewing should be excellent during the coming weeks along Highway 28 where it passes through Theresa Marsh, as migrating waterfowl, wading birds and other birds use it as their stopover area. The remaining Zone 2 turkey tags go on sale again at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 25 and are expected to sell out fast. DNR crews are preparing for spring prescribed burning, and have already started in some areas. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - River levels are dropping but still above normal flow for this time of year, but coming down. Rain is predicted through the weekend so conditions could change. This is a good time to plan summer trips on the river. - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Horicon Marsh is now open and more waterfowl are being seen every day. The most recent Waterbird Survey by the USFWS can be found here. https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Region_3/NWRS/Zone_3/Horicon_Complex/Horicon/Home/Promos/3-16%20Waterbird%20update%20(3).pdf. Flooded farm fields surrounding the marsh are holding a variety of birds including greater-white fronted geese, Ross's geese, tundra swans, canvasback, scaup, pintail, green-winged teal, ring-necked ducks and more. Great blue herons have returned to the Four-Mile Island heron rookery, on the state wildlife area and the eagles are sitting on eggs. Reports of tree swallows, bluebirds, phoebe's and turkey vultures as well. Be sure to visit the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center this weekend as you search for migrating waterfowl at Horicon Marsh. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. While you're there, check out the Explorium. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Dane County - Good numbers of waterfowl are being seen on most marshes and shallow lakes. Diving duck diversity and numbers are about at peak. Tree swallows and Eastern phoebes are arriving. Staff have heard reports of spring peepers. American woodcock are displaying on territory--encourage folks to get out and check out the timberdoodles! - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Bluebirds continue their return to the area, so if you have not already cleaned out your bluebird houses, it is important that you do so quickly. Bluebird houses should be placed 5-6 feet above the ground in pairs (25 feet apart). Pairs should be placed 100-200 yards apart. Entrance holes should face northeast, east, or southeast to prevent sunlight from entering the hole and overheating the box. Boxes should be monitored weekly and undesirable materials such as house sparrow or starling nesting materials or wasp nests should be removed. One should also remove the remains of a successful hatch once the birds have fledged, as bluebirds will initiate a second nest if the first is successful. The Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin has an informative website at http://ww.braw.org. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua