Wildlife & Habitat

  • Greater sandhill crane

    Greater sandhill crane

    Well-known for their elaborate courtship dances, graceful flight and prehistoric calls, sandhill cranes are the most common cranes in North America. Cranes build their nests on dry land or attached to vegetation above the water line to “float” with rising water levels. Within 24 hours of hatching crane chicks can walk and swim. Families (mother, father, and young) typically stay together for nine to ten months, until early in the spring following the young bird’s hatching.


    Approximately 50 cranes use the refuge for nesting habitat during the summer but hundreds use the refuge as a staging (gathering) area during the fall migration.

  • Butterfly milkweed

    Butterfly milkweed

    Butterfly milkweed is a native plant that produces orange clusters of blooms from early summer to late fall. Found in upland prairies and savanna habitat, it acts as the host plant for monarch butterflies, but hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators are also attracted to its nectar.

  • Uplands

    Oak Savanna

    Upland habitats consist of closed canopy upland deciduous (drops leaves) forest dominated by white, black, and bur oak; upland dry prairie; and oak savanna.

  • Sedge meadow

    Sedge Meadow thumbnail

    The majority of the refuge is sedge meadow, wet prairie and shallow marsh wetlands dominated by many species of sedges and grasses. However, other wetland types such as fens – a rare wetland type in Wisconsin that harbors many state threatened and endangered plants, lowland forest, shrub-carr thickets, deep marsh, and open water occur on the refuge as well.