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310. Lake Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Lake Park is the crown jewel of birding sites in the Milwaukee area.

Milwaukee’s park system took shape in the late 1800s under the direction of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who felt that access to nature had a civilizing and restorative effect on the urban public. More than a century later, his vision for Lake Park, which overlooks Lake Michigan, remains intact, featuring woodlands, meadows, and access to the lake.

Birds can be found throughout the park’s 138 acres, and three spots in particular stand out.

The Locust Street Ravine winds through a wooded area near the north end of the park. It is an especially important stopover habitat for warblers, buntings, and other spring migrants.

Around the middle of the park, south of the main parking lot and just north of the North Point Lighthouse, stands the statue of Civil War physician Brigadier General Erastus Wolcott. Bird feeders near the statue attract a steady stream of sparrows, cardinals, and others, including a few surprises over the years.

Across Lincoln Memorial Dr. is a rugby field, and at the north end of the field is a line of trees that local birders refer to as Milwaukee’s “Magic Hedge” for its propensity for luring spring migrants and rarities, including Prairie Warbler and Grasshopper Sparrow.

310. Lake Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Directions

Lake Park is the crown jewel of birding sites in the Milwaukee area. From downtown, head north on Lincoln Memorial Dr. for about 3.25 miles to N. Lake Dr. Turn left and drive south about 0.4 miles, then turn left into the park. Stay to the right and park in the lot between the restaurant and the golf course.

Downloadable Files

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
43°4’3.10″N 87°52’13.15″W

Habitat

Woodlands, riparian area, open grass, lakeshore.

Terrain

Mostly flat with wheelchair-accessible paved trails. Some areas with stairs leading to dirt paths.

Birds

Greater and Lesser Scaup, Surf, White-winged, and Black Scoters, Bufflehead, mergansers, Wild Turkey, Horned Grebe, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, sandpipers, gulls, Caspian and Common Terns, Red-headed, Red-bellied, Downy, and Hairy Woodpeckers, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, flycatchers, vireos, Horned Lark, swallows, kinglets, nuthatches, wrens, Eastern Bluebird, thrushes, Fox, White-throated, Le Conte’s, Savannah, and Song Sparrows, Baltimore Oriole, 35 warbler species, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting.

When to go

Year-round. Best birding in spring and fall.

Amenities

Seasonal bird walks for warblers, ducks, and swifts (currently paused due to the pandemic). Restrooms at Lake Park Friends office near tennis courts and on lower level of Lake Park Bistro restaurant (east side of building).

Access

County park. No fees. Parking lots off Lake Dr. and Lincoln Memorial Dr., plus street parking in adjacent neighborhood. Reachable via city bus routes 44U, 21, 22, and GoldLine.

Tips

The most reliable spot for Red-headed Woodpecker, which is at Lake Park from late April through October, is along Locust Street Ravine and in the woods near picnic area four. Bring a spotting scope for watching birds on Lake Michigan.

For more info

Lake Park Friends 
Birds of Lake Park in Milwaukee
Lake Park map from Milwaukee County Parks

Sites nearby

Bradford Beach
Due south and east of Lake Park. Parking lots just south and west of beach. Great for ducks, shorebirds, gulls, herons, and more.

Lakeshore State Park
Three miles south of Lake Park, adjacent to Discovery World science center. Waterfowl, shorebirds, migratory songbirds, and more

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Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of BirdWatching magazine and BirdWatchingDaily.com. You can reach him at [email protected].

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