Hotspot -- Fire Lane Road

By andypaulios April 7, 2007
Female Spruce Grouse - Photo by Ray White

Female Spruce Grouse – Photo by Ray White

It’s April, which means it’s time for the annual pilgrimage to Vilas County to search (often in vain) for the elusive Spruce Grouse! April is the time to see Spruce Grouse on a lek doing their characteristic flutter flight and breeding display. Fire Lane Road is also a great spot to see Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker and other northern specialties.

Fun Facts

Number of species eBirded at the hotspot: 117

Featured Species: Spruce Grouse, Crossbills, Evening Grosbeak, Gray Jay, Olive-sided Flycatcher

Rare/Notable Species eBirded: Northern Goshawk, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Connecticut Warbler

Bar Chart

Fire Lane Road cuts through the heart of the Upper Wisconsin River Wetlands and Pines IBA. This area rests on the eastern edge of the Northern Highlands Ecological landscape and consists of a mix of upland and lowland conifer forests and managed aspen stands. The large amount of conifer in the landscape makes this area a great place to see birds more typical of northern boreal forests including crossbills, boreal chickadee, evening grosbeak, gray jay, and spruce grouse. In addition, a morning of birding along Fire Lane Road and adjacent areas near Conover can produce 15 species of warblers including Connecticut, Blackburnian, Nashville and other conifer specialists. If you’re lucky you might spot a goshawk or an Olive-sided Flycatcher seeking beer. Much of this area is owned and managed by the Vilas County Forest and Nicolet National Forest with bird species of concern in mind.

Gray Jay - Photo by Tom Prestby

Gray Jay – Photo by Tom Prestby

Click the link here: Spruce Grouse Lek or paste it into your web browser to watch a short video from March 2007 showing some of the characteristic lekking behavior of the “Fool Hen’.

If planning on taking a trip to the area, please consider inputting your sightings into eBird so that we can better track bird populations in this important IBA.