North Woods Rookeries

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Great blue heron in shallow water
Double-crested cormorants nest on telephone poles put up in Green Bay by the Wisconsin DNR. (Photo by John Bates)

The eastern end of Berkhahn Flowage in the Mead Wildlife Area has a large rookery with 80 pairs of great blue herons, 400 pairs of double-crested cormorants, and numerous black-crowned night herons. Five active osprey nests are in the area around the rookery. Hike the dike road from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) headquarters for 3 miles to the end of Berkhahn Flowage. Although the rookery is closed during the breeding season, viewing with binoculars from the dike trail is still excellent. Mead Wildlife Area Headquarters is located on County Road S 2.5 miles south from the junction of County Roads C and S. Or take U.S. 10 west from Stevens Point off Hwy. 51 and go north on S for 7 miles to the refuge headquarters. The Mead is nearly 30,000 acres of wildlife area with diverse habitats and an enormous variety of wildlife.

Also within the Mead Wildlife Area, Teal Flowage has a rookery with cormorants and black-crowned night herons. Teal Flowage is 0.75 mile north on County Road S from the wildlife area headquarters. Hike the dike trail down the south side of the flowage.

Several islands in the southern end of Green Bay have large colonies of cormorants, great blue herons, and black crowned night herons. These can only be reached by boat. Launch from the boat landing at the mouth of the Fox River where it empties into Green Bay.

Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge offers the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the country, and as one would expect in the midst of so much water, herons thrive here. Fourmile Island SNA has the largest great blue heron and great egret nesting colony in Wisconsin. It can be viewed from a canoe along the west branch of the Rock River in the adjacent Wisconsin DNR-owned Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area (no canoeing is allowed in the refuge), but the island itself is closed to entry.

The Cathedral Pines old-growth forest within the Nicolet National Forest has a most unusual great blue heron rookery with 80 nests in the tops of some of the old white pines. A hiking trail takes you close by the rookery. From Lakewood, take Hwy. 32 0.9 mile to Archibald Lake Road (Forest Road 221). Turn south and proceed to Cathedral Drive. Turn right (west) and go 0.4 mile to the hiking trail.

The Cranberry Flowage in Monroe County is a large reservoir next to Hwy. 21 that supports a great blue heron rookery of over 100 nests and a few pairs of cormorants and great egrets. The rookery can be seen from the highway on the northern edge of the reservoir. From Wyeville, take Hwy. 21 west for 2 miles to the reservoir. Or exit from I-94 onto Hwy. 21 and go east for 1 mile to the reservoir.

Grettum Flowage, a part of the Fish Lake Wildlife Area, is a 500-acre reservoir that was first flooded in 1973, and by 1974 great blue herons and double-crested cormorants had established a rookery on it. In 1975, great egrets nested in the rookery, possibly the northernmost nesting site for this species in Wisconsin. Soon after, black-crowned night herons, American bitterns, and green-backed herons moved onto the flowage as well. Look for ospreys and eagles nesting here as well as 14 nesting duck species. Grettum Flowage is south of Crex Meadows. Take Hwy. 48/87 south out of Grantsburg for 4.5 miles to the Grettum Dike Road. The flowage can be viewed from Hwy. 48/87 and from the dike road that crosses it.

Black Brook Flowage, within the Amsterdam Sloughs Wildlife Area in Burnett County, contains a great blue heron colony at the north end of the flowage, along with a few cormorants and great egrets and several active osprey nests. Take Hwy. 35 south from Webster for 2 miles and turn right (west) onto County Road D. Go nearly 4 miles, and the rookery is easily viewed from the dike trail just south of County Road D.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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