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Wildlife Watching at Maurice K. Goddard State Park

The large lake, abundant wetlands, old fields, and mature forests provide a diversity of habitats that attracts wildlife in all seasons.

Once pushed to the edge of extinction, bald eagles and ospreys have rebounding populations. Both of these fish eating raptors nest near Lake Wilhelm.

The combination of old fields and mature forests are home to many birds, including:

  • American woodcock
  • Common snipe
  • Common nighthawk
  • Many species of warblers

In the spring and fall, waterfowl by the thousands stop at the lake for a quick rest and snack. Some of the noteworthy waterfowl, include:

  • Loon
  • Teal
  • Merganser
  • Goldeneye
  • Bufflehead

The winter is a good time to see the many woodpeckers, including the pileated woodpecker.

In the summer, turtles are abundant in the quiet waters by the Marina. The wetland across Lake Wilhelm Road from the marina entrance has a waterfowl observation station and is a great place to see osprey and beaver.

Birding Resources

The common birds brochure lists the birds most likely to be seen in the park and in which habitat:

Common Birds of Maurice K. Goddard State Park (PDF)

The bird checklist is a comprehensive listing of all birds found in the park, their season, their habitat, and the likelihood of being seen:

Bird Checklist of Maurice K. Goddard State Park (PDF)

Cavity-nesting Trail

Once a rare sight because of habitat loss, the eastern bluebird is again a common sight at Maurice K. Goddard State Park due to a highly successful, volunteer cavity-nesting trail program. The habitat in northern Mercer County is very suitable for this beautiful bird but lacked natural cavities for the birds to nest in. The trail program places nest boxes in appropriate habitat throughout the park.

For more than 20 years, volunteers have maintained such nesting boxes in old fields, meadows, farm fields, and recreation areas. Over time, the trail program has expanded to include additional cavity-nesting species. Also taking advantage of the boxes are:

  • House wrens
  • Tree swallows
  • Chickadees

The larger nest boxes located near the lake are used by waterfowl, such as wood ducks and mergansers.

Near the marina and dam, racks of nesting gourds are utilized by purple martins, which are highly social birds.

Similar to the plight of the eastern bluebird, purple martins are no longer as common as they once were due to lack of natural nesting cavities. However, the purple martin population is growing in the park. Visitors can still see this largest member of the swallow family thanks to the dedicated volunteers.