Horicon National Wildlife Refuge – Fall 2022 Waterbird Blog


“This is week seven of waterbird surveys at the refuge for the fall migration. Mild weather in 50’s and 60’s continues for southern Wisconsin.

Survey numbers for all species were nearly identical to last week. No large influx from any species.

Canada goose numbers remain low this week. Only around 20,000 were counted on the refuge. Fall corn harvest continues as farmers combine corn. Check out harvested fields as the geese make several flights out of the marsh each day to feed.

Dabbling ducks were most numerous on this week’s survey–around 24,000. Top species seen in the thousands were: American wigeon, green-winged teal, mallards, Northern pintails, gadwall and Northern shovelers.

Other species with less than 100 each included: blue-winged teal, wood ducks and black ducks.

Diving duck numbers tripled since last week – around 3700.  Ring-necked ducks and ruddy ducks are here in the thousands. Redheads and lesser scaup were counted in the hundreds. Small groups of canvasbacks and buffleheads were counted with less than 100 of each species.

Other sightings to note:

  • Large flocks of American wigeon can be seen all around the refuge. Listen for their high-pitched whistling as they feed among the American coots.
  • Sandhill cranes are gathering at the marsh for their annual stopover. Several thousand are here right now. You can watch their daily flights in and out of the marsh. Sunrise and one hour before sunset are the best times to see large flocks transition between the roosting and feeding grounds.
  • More than 50 trumpeter swans are here right now. Family groups of 3-5 are common.
  • Shorebirds are still hanging out in the first impoundment along the auto tour (right side). Hundreds of long-billed dowitchers are fueling up for the journey south.


The best closeup viewing of waterfowl is along the auto tour. The south side of Hwy 49 had the highest number of species spotted with some large flocks of ducks and coot.”