Waterfalls and Warblers


(April 2019) As the snow melts in Bayfield County, and our rivers and streams are at their highest, spring is the best time to make a trip out of visiting the waterfalls in northern Wisconsin. Director of Bayfield County Tourism Mary Motiff describes the tallest and most picturesque waterfalls and introduces the new brochure that includes maps and descriptions of the waterfalls in this episode or Bayfield County Wild. Plus, Co-host Nancy Christopher talks with Ryan Brady, a conservation biologist, about birding and why it’s so popular in Bayfield County.

Lost Creek Falls in late spring
Ryan Brady with Ovenbird by Skip Perkins


There are more than 20 waterfalls within Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas and Iron Counties. Iron County has the most, followed by Bayfield County with five waterfalls. The tallest is Big Manitou Falls in Douglas County. Mary says it would take a good week to explore and hike all 20 of them, but you can make multiple trips and see one or two at a time. A new brochure is now available that features all of the waterfalls with photos, descriptions and an overview map to make the most of your journey. You can order the brochure online.


A conservation biologist and bird monitoring coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Ryan Brady says his life is for the birds…literally. Ryan talks about the world’s #1 sport, birding, and its significance in Bayfield County. According to Ryan, this is one of the best regions in the U.S. to spot birds because of the wide variety of habitats. Bayfield County has water, wetlands, shorelines, grasslands, forests and even Pine Barrens, which are globally unique. Plus, a lot of this is public land where people can come and enjoy the birds along with all the trails and other wildlife you might see.

Spring is Ryan’s favorite time for birding because the birds are singing and in their most colorful plumage. This time of year, we see lots of migrating birds and waterfowl such as sandhill cranes, swans and blue heron, followed by insect-eating birds like the Orioles. Bayfield has seen an increase in several bird species, including Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Trumpeter Swans, Turkeys and Canadian Geese. Among the declining species are the Eastern Whippoorwill, the common Night Hawk, Evening Grosbeaks and Meadowlarks, Bobolinks and grassland birds. The decline in these species is mostly because of changes in habitat. 

Bayfield County has seen some rare species like the Whooping Crane, Piping Plovers, Scissortail Flycatchers and Lewis’ Woodpeckers. The rarest, however, were the Wilson’s Plover, Tropical Kingbird and Ross Gull, which has only been seen once in 2001 and comes all the way from the Arctic and Bering Sea.

Ryan says there are things we can do to draw more birds to our backyards.  Birds are looking for water, food and shelter, so he recommends having water bird fountains and shallow ponds. Planting trees, shrubs and other plants will help to attract insects and arthropods as food sources. Brush piles are also great for providing natural shelters for birds.

If you would like to get involved in helping birds, Ryan also recommends a number of clubs and associations that encourage membership like the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative and Wisconsin Audobahn Chapters. You can also become a volunteer by getting involved in one of Wisconsin’s many  citizen science projects. Lastly, if you are already birding, you can share your bird counting on Ebird.org or get involved in the 2019 Great Wisconsin Birdathon by either collecting pledges or simply donating to the cause. 


For 13 years, the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center has been hosting the Chequamegon Bay Birding & Nature Festival. This year’s event is being held May 16-18. The festival offers 3 days of birding and nature activities on the southern shore of Lake Superior at the peak of spring migration. There will be more that 100 field trips and programs about nature, including birds, butterflies, wildflowers, snails, spiders, elk, frogs, fish and mushrooms.


  • April 6:            Syrup Saturday at the Iron River National Fish Hatchery
  • April 6:            Cellar Jazz Concert at the White Winter Winery in Iron River, WI     
  • April 26 – 27: Washburn Brokedown Blues Fest

View the full schedule of events on our website and Facebook page.


Our guest is Naturalist Emily Stone. As the naturalist/education director at the Cable Natural History Museum in Cable, Wisconsin, Emily writes a weekly “Natural Connections” column published in more than a dozen local and regional newspapers. She has also earned multiple Excellence in Craft awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America. 


Bear Paw Cafe

Enjoy delicious food in a cozy, cabin-like atmosphere. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Bear Paw’s specials include chicken wings, seafood and BBQ ribs. Don’t leave without trying a trademark, delicious caramel roll or their unique, homemade potato chips.

Bayfield County Rustic Yurts

Enjoy all that nature has to offer while staying in a cozy yurt near Bayfield and Cable. Explore thousands of acres of forests, as well as miles of maintained, non-motorized recreational trails. Peace and quiet are yours here, with the wonders of the North Woods surrounding you.

Quality Inn Ashland

Located in Bayfield County on the shore of Lake Superior near the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, the Apostle Islands and Big Top Chautauqua, the Quality Inn gives you plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities and adventures.

Bay Front Inn 

Family-owned and operated, Bay Front Inn is in beautiful Bayfield, WI between the Bayfield City Dock and Madeline Island Ferry Line. So close to the water, it’s the perfect lodging choice for anyone planning on enjoying activities on Lake Superior or for those who just want to relax and hear the gentle sound of rolling waves.