DC Everest Park is a 12-acre park overlooking Lake Wausau, located at the south end of 3rd Avenue within the city of Wausau. The park is situated along the west side of the Wisconsin River where it enters Lake Wausau and offers a great view of the lake and a place to see a variety of migratory waterfowl and resident birds. The park offers two parking lots that are free and open to the public. The south lot has two boat lands and parking for vehicles with boat trailers and a few stalls for passenger cars. A second lot located on the west side of 3rd Avenue has many stalls for parking.
Occasionally, Lake Wausau doesn’t completely freeze over until early December, so lingering waterfowl are possible. There isn’t much to find for forest birds at this park due to limited forest habitat, but sparrows, warblers, etc. can be found during migration in some trees and underbrush located along the western side of the park. Birds that associate with water will mostly be what you are seeking. Using a spotting scope will give you better views of what is present on the lake than just simple pair of binoculars. Scan the lake for gulls, terns, loons, grebes, etc. As you look towards Rib Mountain, there is a large Great Blue Heron rookery on an island. As Great Blue Heron return to nest in the spring, look for Great Egret that might be present among the heron (they even nested one year with the herons). Looking further west, you will see an Osprey nesting platform that has had a pair of Osprey for several years, but was abandoned in 2015. At one time, there used to be a sandbar at the mouth of the Wisconsin River that flows into Lake Wausau, but it hasn’t reformed for several years now. This sandbar was a hotspot for some of the best birds that have appeared on Lake Wausau.
In early spring, when only the river channel has opened up on the north end of the lake, hundreds, or even thousands of waterfowl (mostly Common Goldeneye, and both Common and Hooded Mergansers) begin to migrate in and will roost here for the night. Arriving at dusk is the best time to see this impressive gathering. Later in the spring, when the ice on Lake Wausau has melted away, the variety and number of waterfowl will increase. Common Loons appear on the lake, and sometimes in good numbers. It’s not uncommon to see 50 or more Common Loon on the lake during peak migration. At one time American White Pelican were a rare sight on Lake Wausau, but now some are expected every spring and summer as their numbers increase statewide. Horned Grebe can also be seen in good numbers, mostly in the spring. Mid-April until early May are the best time to look for this grebe. On April 19, 2008, over 500 Horned Grebe were seen on the lake.
Everest Park has also had its share of rare bird sightings over the years. Rare sightings include; an adult Brant recorded on May 11, 2009, American Avocet (3 records total, highest number were 11 birds seen on the sandbar on August 26, 1997), Franklin’s Gull (two records, June 16, 1999 and September 4, 1998, both single birds), Iceland Gull (one record, April 19, 2003, one bird. See link below), Sabine’s Gull (two records, August 26, 1997 with one adult bird still mostly in breeding plumage(!), and September 7 & 8, 2016 with a sub-adult, 1st summer plumage, present. A rare sighting of an adult Arctic Tern was recorded on Lake Wausau on October 5, 2013. It was only the second “inland” record to date for Wisconsin away from the Great Lakes. Snowy Egret (two records, May 9, 1996 and May 22, 2020), Cattle Egret (one record, October 7, 2016, one bird present when Lake Wausau had a drawdown for dam repairs) and Eared Grebe (4 records, all spring sightings).
Other birds of interest, not rare (either locally or statewide) but worth mentioning, include; Cackling Goose (most sightings occur in the fall when this goose is found mixed in with Canada Geese), Greater White-fronted Goose (one record, March 20, 2003, three birds), American White Pelican (now annual on Lake Wausau), Red-necked Grebe (mostly spring sightings), White-winged Scoter, Surf Scoter, Black Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Merlin, and Harris’s Sparrow.
Everest Park is a great place to look for birds out on Lake Wausau! So make sure you visit this park as often as you can. You never know what might be found here.
This article was written by Wausau area birder, Dan Belter.