Wildlife & Habitat

Whooping Cranes
  • Blanding's Turtle

    Blanding's Turtle

    Blanding’s turtles are relatively small (usually less than 10 in. long) with a domed shell and are identified by their yellow throat and chin, which make them look like they are smiling. Blanding's turtles nest in sandy uplands and rely on shallow, calm wetlands for the aquatic plants and insects they eat. The habitat they need is disappearing, and they are designated as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in both Wisconsin and Illinois. 

  • Bald Eagle

    Bald Eagle

    Throughout Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, both public and private lands are home to several species of raptors, including the bald eagle. Bald eagles prefer habitats featuring open water and an abundance of fish; they use the Fox River and nearby Chain 'O Lakes area during spring and fall.

  • Tamarack

    Tamarack Tree Branch

    The American tamarack tree is found on Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. It has been known by different names to different people over the centuries including eastern larch, American larch, black larch, takmahak, and hackmatack. It is from this tree the refuge gets its name; "Hackmatack" is a Native American word for the tamarack.

  • Grasslands and Oak Savanna

    Oak savana

    Tallgrass prairies and oak savanna are among the most decimated and threatened landscapes in the Midwest and the world. The original grasslands in Wisconsin included the tallgrass prairie, which was intermixed with oak savanna. The Illinois portion of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge historically consisted of wetlands, oak savanna, woodlands, and prairie. Today, with the exception of existing conservation estate land, only small, often isolated pockets of these habitats exist on the refuge.  The landscape also includes the sculpted remnants of moraines, kames, kettle marshes, and bogs from its glacial past.