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Four dedicated, novice birders from the Prairieview program woke up before sunrise and geared up for their first “bird walk” at Wisconsin Interstate Park. The bird walk was led by the Polk County’s most sought after “bird man,” Brian Collins. Brian teaches at Unity High School located in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin and spends his summers working all over the state conducting bird surveys.

The girls were welcomed with enthusiasm to the bird walk, which was attended by a diverse group of local people all wanting to spend their Saturday morning the same way (on the trail counting birds)! Geared up with binoculars, pencils and bird count pamphlets, we set out on our morning adventure. The first exciting species noted was the Great Blue Heron which included views of their nest, hatchlings and the adults carrying building material up to the nest. Next up was the great Bald Eagle who dipped down into the marsh to gather nesting materials before heading back to its nest, giving us an extended amount of time to view the raptor in action. The morning continued to get better as the expert birders were hearing several species of birds at the same time, calling them out and the girls worked hard to find the different spotted birds with their binoculars. All in all, we either saw or heard 43 different species. At the very end of the hike, a special treat was in store as the parks education ranger, Julie Fox, pointed out a small hole in a bare tree near the trail. Much to our surprise, the hole was indeed the home to a pair of Ruby Breasted Nuthatches. We were mesmerized for several minutes, watching the pair trade places and do some cleaning of their house by ousting sawdust with their beaks. We had a fantastic morning and it was so fun being on the trail with experts on the topic. If the girls spotted a bird, there was someone right next to them willing to help identify the bird and share their knowledge.

With cold fingers and a new appreciation for early Saturday mornings, we enjoyed a hot chocolate and fresh cake donut from the local bakery before heading back to Northwest Passage. Our conversation on the way home was full of contagious enthusiasm for the morning experience and each girl talked about their favorite bird of the day.

Brittany Bosak, Prairieview Teacher

Here at Northwest Passage, we enjoy watching our kids learn. Our teachers work hard to come up with lesson plans to get them out of the classroom and exploring the local area to learn about wildlife. InaNewFlight is a bird unit dedicated to teaching our youth about the many different species of birds and their hardworking lifestyles.


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